Persimmon Leaf Drop – Why Is Persimmon Tree Losing Leaves
By Teo Spengler
A popular tree for home orchards are persimmon trees. These delightful little trees suffer few serious diseases or pests and are relatively easy to care for. However, if you notice your trees losing leaves, there could be a few reasons behind the cause. Learn more here.
Curled Persimmon Leaves – Why Persimmon Leaves Are Curling
By Mary H. Dyer, Credentialed Garden Writer
Although persimmon trees are generally durable and easy to grow, persimmon leaf curl is an indication that something isn’t quite right. If you’ve noticed curled persimmon leaves, careful troubleshooting is in order. Find reasons for curling leaves on persimmons here.
When Are Persimmons Ripe: Learn How To Harvest Persimmons
By Amy Grant
When they are less than perfectly ripe, they are terribly bitter, so knowing when to pick persimmons at their peak is essential. But how do you know when persimmons are ripe? Click this article to find out about harvesting persimmon fruit.
American Persimmon Tree Facts – Tips On Growing American Persimmons
By Teo Spengler
While not grown commercially as much as the Asian variety, though having a richer taste, if you enjoy persimmon fruit, you may want to consider growing American persimmons. Click this article for American persimmon tree facts and tips to get you started.
Persimmon Tree Care: Learn How To Grow Persimmon Trees
By Susan Patterson, Master Gardener
Growing persimmons is a great way to enjoy something different in the garden. The tree is very attractive and valued for both its wood and its fruit. Find out how to grow persimmons in this article.
How to Eat a Persimmon Like a Pro
The fall harvest brings in the bright sweetness of apples and the warm richness of pumpkins and squash. It’s also the season of persimmons, a somewhat less common fall fruit. Typically in season from September to December, persimmons are likely to be at the local farmers market around this time of year.
There are several types of persimmons, and the key is to know which kinds are astringent and which are sweet. The astringent persimmons are still a wonderful food when they’re ripe. If you’ve ever had an unripe persimmon, the experience is memorable. Often described as “furry,” for me the experience was akin to trying to eat a sweet yet dense cotton ball. It doesn’t taste like a good idea, and eating a lot of unripe persimmon can cause digestive problems.
How to Grow an American Persimmon Tree
The botanical name for persimmons, Diospyros, means “fruit of the Gods.” If you haven’t had the privilege of tasting the American persimmon in particular, imagine that you can stand under a tree, and dessert will fall from its branches right into your hands. In this case, dessert is in the form of a bite-sized, succulent, honey-sweet burst of flavor that is healthy for you.
Does this sound too good to be true? We promise this is not gardening mythology. It’s fact. And you can grow this divine treat in your own backyard. Just be sure to wait until the fruit is ripe to sample it — unripe persimmons are incredibly bitter.
The American persimmon (Diospyros virginiana) tree has grown for thousands of years in the wild from as far north as Connecticut and south down into Florida. They grow naturally as far west as Nebraska. The tree is very adaptable and can be grown in the US Department of Agriculture Hardiness Zones 5 to 11. You will most likely find a cultivar appropriate for your region.
The appearance of the American persimmon tree is pleasing to the eye. It boasts bluish-green leaves in spring and summer, and fall leaf colors range from yellow to blazing red depending on variety and climate. Its branches and leaves droop giving an overall relaxed appearance to the tree. The ripe fruit provides a burst of golden color and adds to the languid look. It can grow to be a very tall, long living tree reaching up to fifty feet and higher. A young American persimmon tree will grow rapidly, but its growth will taper as the tree matures and begins to bear fruit.
How To Plant American Persimmon
American persimmon trees are some of the easiest fruit trees to grow and maintain. However, they are not as easy to come by as other fruit trees. You might have to search a few local nurseries to find a young, healthy seedling to transplant into your landscape. There are several online sources for the American persimmon tree if you are unable to find one locally.
Make sure you purchase a variety that will grow well in your region. A transplant from the wild is not recommended because the tree has a long tap root. If the tap root is disturbed, the tree will often not survive. The fruit from a cultivated variety is likely to be more appealing than that of a native tree, too.
Many varieties of American persimmon trees are not self pollinating, so planting a male and a female plant will be the only way to guarantee that your trees will fruit heavily. If you only have space for one tree, you can graft a male branch onto a female tree. Or, you can purchase a seedling that is self-pollinating.
American persimmon trees are not fussy about soil conditions. However, they do not like extremely wet or dry conditions. Maintain a slightly moist soil around your young tree. Fertilize your young tree once in early spring and once in midsummer with a regular lawn fertilizer. Prune your tree to maintain its shape as it matures. You should also prune branches that are crossing over other branches or branches that have broken or died.
Pests and Problems
American persimmon trees are resilient to most diseases. The most troublesome problem you will have with your persimmon tree will be your competition with the local wildlife over your fruit. The wildlife may be able to tolerate the tartness of the fruit before the fruit is ripe enough for you to enjoy, so be on guard.
Varieties to Try
- ‘Meade’ is the hardiest of all American persimmons, and it can withstand temperatures to -30° F. Its fruits are seedless. The fruit matures early making it a good choice for regions with short growing seasons. It is also self-pollinating.
- ‘Early Golden’ is a popular, easy-to-grow variety. It produces fruit early in the season and is hardy to USDA Zone 5.
- ‘Eureka’ is the type of persimmon you would most likely find in the grocery store. But this is a Japanese variety of persimmon, not an American one.
Irrigate 'Fuyu' persimmon trees in spring and summer when rainfall is inadequate to maintain moisture and prevent leaf and fruit drop. Persimmon trees generally require 36 to 48 inches of water annually. Fertilizer is required only when growth is less than 1 foot per year or leaves lose their deep green color. When the need for fertilizer is indicated, use a balanced fertilizer – such as 10-10-10 or 10-20-20. Spread 1 pound of the fertilizer for each inch of trunk diameter under the tree canopy in late winter or early spring when new shoots emerge.
How to Plant & Grow Fuyu Persimmons
"Fuyu" persimmons look like squat, orange tomatoes, and lack the astringency common to some other types of persimmons. Their nutritious fruits can be eaten while still crunchy -- like apples. The trees are easy to grow, as they have few pests and require little care. They also blaze in the fall with orange and red foliage, and are sometimes considered ornamentals. "Fuyu" persimmons thrive in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 7 to 10.
Soak the roots of bareroot saplings in a bucket of water, possibly with a capful of growth enhancer added, for several hours before planting them. Water potted saplings. Purchase a sapling or saplings in the spring. Keep in mind that a single tree can self-pollinate to some extent, but two will provide better pollination.
Cut one of the trees back to 3 feet.
Dig a hole as deep as its root ball and twice as wide. Choose a position in full sun that is also protected from strong winds.
Set the "Fuyu" persimmon sapling at the same depth it grew in the nursery. Pack soil around its roots until the ground is slightly higher than level, as the soil will settle somewhat after planting.
Drive a plant stake into the ground on the windward side of the sapling. Attach it to the stake with tree ties.
Water the sapling thoroughly, so the recently disturbed soil is damp all the way down. Spread a 2-inch layer of compost around the base of the tree, but keep it from touching the trunk. Plant the second sapling in the same way, 15 feet from the first tree.
Water the saplings deeply once a month from May to October.
Choose three to five strong, evenly distributed, and somewhat horizontal branches -- that make at least a 45-degree angle with the trunk. Cut out all other growth. Do this the following year, in late winter or early spring.
Remove the plant stake. Add a new layer of compost mulch.
Leave two or three secondary branches on each primary limb the third year. Thin the growth, in subsequent years, enough to allow light to reach all parts of the tree. Remove weak branches, as well as those that rub against each other.
- Persimmon trees may take up to six years to produce fruit.
- Pick persimmons when they are orange, but still firm. Snip the twig above the calyx with pruning shears and leave the calyx attached to each fruit. Handle persimmons carefully, as they bruise easily. Set them on a counter, to ripen and soften a bit more, for better flavor.
- Although American persimmons reportedly taste better after a freeze, Oriental types such as "Fuyu" should be protected from freezing temperatures. The fruits will continue to ripen after being picked, so you can harvest them when the color is only yellowish-orange if necessary.
A former master gardener with a Bachelor of Arts in writing from Houghton College, Audrey Stallsmith has had three gardening-related mysteries published by WaterBrook Press, a division of Random House. Her articles or photos have also appeared in such publications as Birds & Blooms, Horticulture and Backwoods Home.