Atis tree and sugar apple are two common names for Annona squamosa, a species of small tree or shrub native to tropical areas of the Americas. They are sometimes cultivated for their scaly, brownish-green fruit, which is filled with sweet, creamy-white flesh and large black seeds. Seed germination is the primary means of growing new atis trees, but they will only germinate if sown in rich, moist soil and kept in a warm place. Although the trees are slow-growing when young, they will be ready to plant in the garden in six months and will bear fruit in three to four years.
Soak atis tree seeds in a bowl of room-temperature water for three days before sowing them. Dry the seeds on a dishrag or paper towel for 20 minutes immediately before sowing them.
Fill 10-inch nursery pots with a soil mixture comprised of three parts loam, two parts compost and one part perlite. Use sterile loam and neutral to mildly acidic compost for the soil mixture.
Sow one atis tree seed in each 10-inch nursery pot. Bury the seeds under three-fourth of an inch of soil. Firm the soil with the flat of your hand to anchor the seeds.
Water the soil mixture in each pot until it feels lightly moist at a depth of 1 inch. Keep the soil moist at a 1-inch-depth at all times but let the surface of the soil dry out slightly between waterings to prevent mold growth on the soil.
Set the pots in a greenhouse or outdoors against a sheltered, south-facing wall. Rotate the pots a half-revolution every other day to ensure even sun exposure on the sides of the pots, which will keep the soil warm.
Watch for germination two weeks after sowing the atis tree seeds, but do not be worried if it takes a month for the seedlings to emerge.
Move the atis tree seedlings to a lightly shaded spot for the first few months after they emerge to protect them from sunburn. Water regularly after the seedlings emerge but avoid getting moisture on the leaves or stem.
Transplant the atis tree seedlings into a permanent bed six months after they germinate. Choose a sunny spot with excellent drainage. Space the trees 15 to 20 feet apart.
Feed the atis trees once a year in early spring with 3-10-10 ratio fertilizer. Apply the fertilizer according to the directions on the label to protect the atis tree roots from damage.