How to grow persimmon?

Propagating persimmons: Germinating seeds, grafting, and transplanting

If you haven’t already, please read my previous post to learn about persimmon spacing, varieties, and other factors to consider when planning your persimmon orchard. This post is a quick rundown on three methods of persimmon propagation.

Starting persimmons from seed. The cheapest (and probably least problematic) method of growing persimmons is to gather seeds from wild trees and sprout them right where you want your own persimmon to grow. I’ve had mixed success with sprouting persimmon seeds, but I now know that if you use a couple of tricks, your persimmons will germinate quite well. First, gather whole persimmon fruits and remove the seeds, but don’t let the seeds dry out. Your seeds will need to stratify, so plant them in fall or winter, no more than an inch deep in the soil. Persimmon seeds won’t germinate until late spring, so if you want to be able to keep track of them, you might try planting your seeds in outdoor pots at this time of year, then transplanting them into their final location as soon as they germinate and before they send down their long tap root. If you choose the pot method, plant your seeds in soil taken from the woods to promote germination.

As I cleaned my first batch of persimmon seeds, I noticed that a layer of pulp continued to cling to the seed, so I’m experimenting with whether persimmon seeds also need a fermentation stage. I planted half of my seeds directly into pots of woodland soil, and am letting the other seeds soak in water for a week or two the way I do with tomato seeds. I’ll report back this spring about which method gave me better germination rates.

Grafting persimmons. Starting persimmons from seed is relatively easy, but your final tree may or or may not be exactly the way you want it to be. You can develop your own, locally adapted persimmon varieties by setting aside a patch of land to test out dozens of different seeds. The persimmons in your test strip can be planted much closer together since you just need them to grow to about five feet tall, at which point they will begin to fruit. Select your favorite varieties from this test bed (maybe an early, mid-season, and late tree?) and graft scion wood onto seedlings started at the same time in their permanent location. I won’t go into the basics of grafting here, but I’ve read that persimmons can be grafted using the same methods you would use to graft apples.

Transplanting persimmons. If at all possible, it’s best to plan your persimmon orchard so that you don’t need to transplant. However, if for some reason it’s essential to move a persimmon from one spot to another, orchardists have developed a method that is time-consuming but which seems to work.

The best time to transplant is at the beginning of the third growing season. To prepare, prune the roots the previous summer by digging your spade into the soil a few inches from the trunk of the tree in alternating sections, as is shown in the image to the right. Two months later, repeat the process, cutting into the areas that were left uncut last time. This process will make your persimmon grow roots close to the trunk where you’ll be able to dig them up (although you’ll still lose the taproot.)

During the next dormant season, lay out black plastic in the area you plan to transplant into. This will warm the soil up so that when you transplant the persimmon in early spring, it is ready to grow immediately. Prune back the top of the tree extensively so that only half to a third of the branches remain, then transplant the persimmon into its new location. Keep the persimmon very well waterered until mid summer — a flush of growth right off the bat doesn’t mean that your tree is established and can be ignored. If your persimmon is still alive, stop watering in August to let it harden off for the winter.

After reading all of that, you probably think, like I do, that it’s best to just start seedlings! I’m currently gathering seeds from persimmons that ripen at various times, with the goal of putting some directly into the forest pasture in the spring and others into a test strip for later grafting onto male seedlings in the pasture. Like many parts of my forest pasture experiment, growing persimmons is a long term project, with seedlings slated to bloom in four to eight years and then the grafted persimmons not beginning to fruit until three years after that. Maybe by 2020, persimmons will make up a significant portion of our chickens’ diets.

Keep your chickens healthy with a homemade chicken waterer.

This post is part of our Persimmons lunchtime series. Read all of the entries:

  • Persimmons in permaculture
  • American and Asian persimmons
  • Planting persimmons
  • Propagating persimmons: Germinating seeds, grafting, and transplanting
  • How to ripen persimmons

Want more in-depth information? Browse through our books.
Or explore more posts by date or by subject.

Persimmon (Diospyros virginiana)

Fruit Seed Seedling

Propagation Method

Seed collection: Persimmon fruits are berries usually containing 5 to 8 seeds. They can be collected in early fall after the fruit begins to soften. For larger trees, fruits should be collected soon after they fall from the branches and before they are eaten by small animals.

The fruit of persimmon is edible. Seeds can be easily removed from fruit after they are cut open. Any remaining fruit flesh adhering to the seed can be rubbed off in running water.

It may be more easily removed if the seeds are soaked in water several days. They can be stored dry for long periods in air tight containers in the refrigerator.

Seed dormancy: Persimmon has physiological dormancy.

Seed germination: Stratify seeds using moist chilling for 60-90 days to satisfy physiological dormancy. Following stratification, sow seeds in a nursery container to produce a seedling or sow them in a plastic container in the classroom to observe germination.

Return to propagation selection page

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Edible Landscaping – Edible of the Month: Persimmon

The botanical name for persimmons is Diospyros which, literally translates as “food of the Gods.” Anyone who has tasted a ripe persimmon fruit knows exactly what these early horticulturists meant. Creamy, yellow-orange flesh has a sweet, spicy flavor and succulent texture.

Even if you aren’t into the delicious fruits, the persimmon tree has many outstanding ornamental characteristics that still make it the perfect choice as an edible landscape plant. The slow growing, medium-sized persimmon tree has dark green, magnolia-like leaves that turn a brilliant orange-red in fall. The bright orange or red globes of persimmon fruits hang on the tree long after the leaves have dropped, giving the tree a ghostly appearance. The fruits are loaded with iron and vitamin C.

Here’s how to grow a persimmon tree in your yard.

Planning

Persimmon trees are hardy in USDA zones 5 to 11. However, you’ll have to select the right type for your area. There are two types of persimmon trees. The Asian persimmon (Diospyros kaki) grows in USDA hardiness zones 7 to 11, and is known for its large fruits on smaller trees. It’s the type often sold in grocery stores.

The American persimmon (D. virginiana) is a faster growing, larger tree that’s hardy to USDA zone 5. It produces smaller fruits, which some consider richer in flavor than its Asian cousins.


Persimmon trees can grow in many regions of the country from New England to California.

Persimmon fruits are grouped as astringent and non-astringent. The astringency is due to tannins that dissipate as the fruits soften. Astringent fruits make your mouth pucker when eaten while still hard, but have a rich, sweet, full flavor when allowed to ripen to a jelly-like consistency. Non-astringent fruits can be eaten when hard or soft. Asian persimmons can be astringent or non-astringent depending on the variety. American persimmons are all astringent.

Varieties

While some persimmon varieties, such as ‘Meader,’ are self-fruitful, persimmons tend to produce best with a pollinator variety. Asian types will not pollinate American types so grow at least two varieties of each to produce the best quality and quantity crop.

Here are some varieties to try in your yard.

Nonastringent Persimmons (Edible when either hard- or soft-ripe)

Fuyu- Reddish-orange fruits have a sweet, crisp, mild-tasting flesh. The fruits ripen in midseason and can hold on the tree for up to two months. The trees are hardy to USDA zone 8.

Jiro- These midseason, orange fruits are similar to ‘Fuyu,’ but are larger with a flattened shape. The trees are hardy to USDA zone 7.

Izo- These early ripening, orange fruits have a sweet, pale orange flesh and are hardy to USDA zone 7. It’s well adapted to the Southeast coast.

Astringent Persimmons (Edible when soft-ripe)

Hachiya – These early maturing, large, acorn-shaped, orange-red fruits have a sweet taste and smooth texture. It’s a standard variety grown in California and is hardy to USDA zone 8.

Tanenashi – Large, heart-shaped reddish-orange fruits with yellow flesh are produced mid- to late in the season. This variety is good for drying and hardy to USDA zone 7.

Early Golden – Yellowish orange, sweet fruits are early, and grow on a large tree. This is the most widely planted American persimmon, and is hardy to USDA zone 5.

Meader – This early maturing fruit is the hardiest of all American persimmons, it can withstand temperatures to -30° F. Fruits are round, orange, and seedless.

Rosseyanka – This Russian hybrid is a cross between an American and Asian persimmon. It has the leaf and fruit shape of the American type with the fall leaf color and fruit size of the Asian persimmon. It’s self-fruitful and hardy to zone 5.


Colorful orange, red, and yellow persimmon leaves in fall make this tree a beautiful addition to any yard.

Planting

Persimmon trees grow best in full sun on well-drained soil. The mature trees can range from 15 feet up to 40 feet tall depending on the variety, so find a location that will be appropriate for your tree size. The American persimmons can tolerate a wider variety of soil types and part shade better than the Asian types.

In spring or fall dig a hole three times wider than the root ball and as deep. Plant the bare root, or containerized persimmon tree, and water.

Care

Keep trees well watered and mulched. Apply a complete organic fertilizer annually so the trees are producing one foot of new growth each year. Don’t over fertilize with nitrogen or the fruits will be more likely to drop prematurely.

Prune in late winter removing suckers and opening the tree to have six- to eight-scaffold branches evenly distributed around the tree. Mature trees require little additional pruning. Thin fruits so there are one or two per shoot. Persimmons have few insect and disease problems. Raccoons, birds, and opossums sometime help themselves to ripe fruit. To prevent this, harvest the fruits of even astringent-types when fully colored but still hard, and allow to ripen indoors in a paper bag with a ripe banana.

Harvest

Harvest non-astringent varieties when fully colored and still hard. Astringent Asian varieties can be harvested when the fruit turns translucent and easily separates from the branch. Leave astringent or non-astringent Asian types on the tree to ripen as long as temperatures stay above 25° F. American persimmons drop from the tree when ripe.

For more on persimmons:

Persimmons

Paean to Persimmons

After 40 years of trial and error, we now grow persimmon trees that produce fruit even after our coldest winters(wind chills of -40 C ). Our Canadian persimmon fruit mellows(when fully ripe) into a delicious, sweet, orange-fleshed delicacy. Our Canadian persimmon fruit look just like the Asian kaki persimmon….except smaller( golf ball size) and tastier( more pronounced “fruit of the Gods” flavour. If your area gets very cold winter temps into -30 to -40 C range, we suggest planting only Canadian Persimmon TAYLOR trees grown from our fruit seeds and not grafted trees. Why? The graft makes the persimmon tree less resistant to winter cold. The quality of the fruit on the seedling trees produced from our seeds is excellent. Some seedlings may be self-fertile but plant several to ensure better cropping. Canadian persimmon seedling trees resist -35 C ( Zone 3 or colder) and show no pest or disease problems. Fruit harvest is late Oct. on the bare branches. Our CANADIAN persimmon makes a small, beautiful, easy-care tree that should be planted more….by fruit lovers looking for something unique. Neither “Polar Vortex” winters nor cold spring frosts seem to affect our Canadian Persimmon TAYLOR trees productivity……once mature they give masses of orange fruit every year without fail. We sell 3 yr old seedling trees that are 2- 4 ft tall and if grown well they should produce persimmons approx 5 yrs after transplanting

Canadian Persimmon TAYLOR…..$89

Fruitscaping with Persimmon Trees

Persimmons are one of the loveliest trees to be found. They have smooth, gray to tan bark, and broad, leathery, jade-green leaves (2-3 inches wide and 4-6 inches long). The large varieties average 25 to 30 feet at maturity, a good size for lining driveways and paths, or as a specimen or accent tree.

The small ones are usually very heavy bearers, and are great in small groups in the shrubbery border, with low annuals or ground-cover beneath them. All persimmons have spectacular fall colors — bright yellows to clear oranges, light pinks to fire-engine reds — and the whole show happens just as the fruit colors up!

Persimmon fruits look like translucent orange orbs, hanging amongst leathery green foliage. They are still something of a rarity in this country, but those in the know agree there is no more beautiful sight than a group of golden persimmons ripening to a sweet perfection on a sunny windowsill. The smooth, custard-textured flesh closely resembles sweet bananas and mangos. Enjoy persimmons fresh in fruit salads or sliced and served with cheese and wine, They are wonderful for cooking used as a sweetener in sauces and marinades. Think of them like bananas when you bake them in breads, pies and puddings. We have found the astringents to be the best for drying, Dried, they taste like maple syrup.

Recommended Fertilizers

  • Starter Fertilizer: Plant with Espoma Organic Bio-tone® Starter Plus. This will increase root mass and help avoid transplant loss in difficult planting conditions.
  • Fertilizer to Maintain: Our varieties of Persimmon Trees work great with Espoma Organic Citrus-tone Fertilizer.

Growing Guide

View Our Full Persimmon Trees Planting and Growing Guide

Additional Information

The trees, very hardy and well adapted to our area, are known to live upwards of 75 years. They require little attention once established and often reward high nitrogen feeding by dropping their fruit.

Over 500 varieties have been developed throughout the Orient, with fruit ranging from small plum-sized to football-sized, with just as many flavors and textures. We’ve narrowed it down to what we feel are the very best varieties. All the persimmons we offer have been grown in university test orchards in Northern and Central Florida, and have proven to be solid, consistent bearers.

There are two basic types of persimmon fruit — astringent and non-astringent, or puckered versus non-puckered. You can be easily fooled into eating an astringent persimmon, because the astringent varieties turn orange and look ripe long before they really are. They should be eaten only when completely jelly soft to the touch. Non-astringent persimmons may be eaten while still firm and crisp. As a group, the astringent varieties are sweeter, richer, and juicier, while the non-astringent types are crispy, mellower and more sugarcane or cantaloupe-flavored.

Fun Recipe

Dried Persimmon Recipe

1. Don’t wait until your Astringent persimmons are ripe (mushy). For less mess in the dehydrator, choose persimmons that are slightly soft. You can also dehydrate Non-astringent persimmons with these same instructions.

2. Wash the persimmons and cut the “cap” off the top. Slice the persimmons 1/4″ – 3/8″ thick. You don’t have to peel them – the peel is yummy too!

3. Place your persimmon slices on your dehydrator trays. Fill the trays but don’t overlap the persimmon slices.

4. Stack the trays in the dehydrator. Turn it on and set the dehydrator to 155 F.

5. Check every 8-12 hours and turn the persimmons (flip them over) when you do.

It should take 24 hours to dehydrate a full batch of persimmons (5 trays full). Once completely cooled, place dried persimmons in a zipped freezer bag and put in the refrigerator or freezer for long term storage. Dried persimmons are best when eaten at room temperature.

Planting Persimmon Trees

Successfully establishing a young fruit tree in your yard starts with your planting site and method. Once a fruit tree is established, it needs little assistance to grow and bear fruit; but you’ll want to make sure you give your trees the right foundation.

NOTE: This is part 3 in a series of 9 articles. For a complete background on how to grow persimmon trees, we recommend starting from the beginning.

Fruit trees require fertile soil for good growth, so before you plant, check your soil pH. Contact your local County Extension Office for information about soil testing in your area, or purchase one of our digital meters for quick and accurate results. If the soil pH where you plant your tree is 6.0-7.0, you’re in good shape. Persimmons prefer well-drained and slightly acidic soil.

Location and Spacing

Ideal location should receive full sun, although partial shade may be tolerated. Spacing varies, depending on the variety.

American: 30-50 feet apart
Asian: 15-20 feet apart
Ichi-Ki-Kei-Jiro: 8-10 feet apart

Planting

Persimmons have a strong taproot. Don’t be alarmed at the color of the roots. They naturally appear black and should not be considered diseased or dead.

  • Dig a hole big enough to accommodate the root system.
  • Bare root should be planted same depth as in the nursery row (or no more than 1-inch below).
  • For potted trees, dig the hole 4 times the width of the roots and ½ times the depth.
  • Potted should be planted at same depth as grown in pot.
  • Position tree in planting hole and fill with original soil.
  • Water the tree deeply allowing the water to soak down to the roots.
  • DO NOT fertilize at planting time.
  • Mulch the entire planting area, pulling the mulch a few inches away from the trunk to keep moisture from accumulating next to the bark.
  • No pruning is necessary at planting time.

Potting Your Persimmon Tree

Persimmon trees may also be grown in containers and stored in an unheated basement or garage for the winter if they are not cold-hardy to your zone. If grown in pots, these trees should be repotted every second or third year with fresh soil.

  • Potted trees should be planted at the same depth they are in the shipping pot.
  • Choose a potting mix/medium rather than top soil to avoid any contaminants and avoid compacting around the roots within the container in the future.
  • When planting in a container, the pot you choose needs to be large enough to accommodate the tree’s current root system with room to grow. Be sure the container you use has adequate drainage holes.
  • In cool climates, keep protected until outdoor temperatures warm and the chance of frost is gone. Move the plant into a protected, sunny location, preferably with a southern exposure.
  • Water as needed, when the potting mix in the container is dry to the touch an inch or so below the surface. Avoid overwatering and watering too frequently, as this creates an environment for root rot and other root-related issues.
  • As your tree grows, you will be able to increase the pot size to allow for more room to grow. Restricting the roots in a smaller container may limit growth and fruit production.
  • Pot-up your tree to a container that is still manageable for you, especially if you need to move the tree indoors for winter protection. You can expect to grow persimmon trees in 7-gallon, 10-gallon, 20-gallon containers and larger as needed.

In This Series

  • Introduction

Getting Started

  • Acclimate
  • Planting

Care & Maintenance

  • Fertilizing
  • Pest & Disease Control
  • Pruning
  • Spraying
  • Watering

Other Topics

  • Harvesting

Food, Fruits, Gardening|by Jenny Flores

Persimmons are a delicious and unusual fruit to grow on your homestead. Introduced to the United States by Japan, persimmons offer a colorful splash to your winter landscape. In addition to their beauty, persimmons provide 55% of the daily recommended value of vitamin A and 21% of the daily recommended value of vitamin C.

The reddish-brown to orange fruits that hang like Christmas ornaments on a pretty little tree have antioxidant, anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. They promote healthy mucous membranes and skin. They are known to protect against lung and mouth cancers, and due to their high fiber content, are a perfect snack for those trying to lose a little weight. Not only are they good for you, but they are also a sweet and delicious treat, so delicious that persimmon in Latin translates to “food of the gods.”

There are hundreds of varieties of persimmons but the most widely available persimmon in the United States is the Hachiya, also called Japanese Persimmon. It grows to 3 inches in diameter and has a rounded shape with a slightly pointed base. The Hachiya has bright orange skin which dulls as it ripens. This variety of persimmon is extremely astringent and it will pucker your mouth until it is soft-ripe. At the right stage, it is sweet and creamy.

The Fuyu persimmon is a smaller variety and is tomato shaped. Fuyu persimmons are not astringent at all because they have no tannins. They can be eaten while still quite firm and have a crisp, sweet flavor.

American persimmons are available and can bear fruit but they are generally considered ornamental. American persimmons also need both a male and female tree to produce fruit whereas Asian persimmons are self-fruiting. For prolific harvests and profitable crops, Asian persimmons are your best bet.

Persimmons like a warm climate but other than that, they are not particularly fussy about their growing conditions. You can buy them from reputable nurseries to put right in the ground or you can go the DIY route and propagate them from cuttings or grow from seed.

Growing Persimmons From Seed

To grow from seed choose a fully ripe, unblemished persimmon. Remove the seeds and soak them in warm water for three days. Once they have soaked, rinse them under running water to completely remove any flesh.

Once you have soaked and cleaned the seeds, they need a period of cold stratification. The stratification process mimics the overwintering they need to sprout. Wrap your seeds in a moistened paper towel and place in a glass jar. Store the jar in your refrigerator for three months, spritzing the paper towel when it begins to dry out.

After the cold stratification process is complete, plant one seed in a tall, plastic container with drainage holes. The container needs to be tall because persimmon trees develop their long taproot very early. The seed should be planted 2” deep in sterile potting soil and placed in a bright location where the temperature is at least 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Because persimmon seeds have a 25-35% germination rate, plant multiple seeds for the best chance of success. You should see persimmon seedlings in 6-8 weeks.

Keep your persimmon seedlings in bright, indirect sunlight with evenly moist soil. Once all danger of frost has passed, move your potted persimmons to a sheltered area outdoors. Harden them off over the course of two weeks by gradually moving them to an area with stronger sunlight. Water weekly to keep the soil moist, but persimmons don’t like soggy conditions, so let the top inch of soil dry out between watering.

Time to Transplant

After a full growing season, your persimmon trees are ready to be transplanted into your homestead orchard. It is easiest on the transplant if this is done in October or early November, after a soaking rain. Make sure you have allocated enough space (20 square feet per tree) to ensure your persimmons have enough growing space to thrive and produce an abundant yield.

Spread a thick layer of organic mulch around the base of your persimmon trees and be patient. Persimmon trees grown from seed can take 3-5 years to bear fruit. Trust me, it is worth the wait.

What Can You Do With Persimmons?

Persimmon trees are beneficial to self-sufficient homesteading because they are said to give maximum fruit yield per square foot. Trees can be expected to produce 35-75 pounds of fruit per season. That is a lot of fruit!

They are healthy and delicious eaten fresh from the tree, but they are extremely perishable. The delicate fruit can be stored in the refrigerator for three days before they begin fermenting in their skins. Because of that, it is important to have a storage plan for personal use and a product plan if you plan on selling this fruit.

For personal use, persimmons can be used in puddings, smoothies, and baked goods. Simply peel and chop persimmons. Spread chopped fruit in a single layer on a baking sheet and place in the freezer until frozen. Transfer frozen fruit to freezer bags and label. For puddings and baked goods, let the persimmons thaw before using. You can use frozen persimmons in a smoothie for a frothy, ice-cream-like smoothie.

Persimmon Recipes

Another quick snack that makes a unique and side to all types of meat is pickled persimmons. To make these refrigerator pickles clean, peel and chop 6-7 Fuyu persimmons into bite-sized pieces. Place the chopped persimmons in a sterile quart-sized jar. Combine 1 cup apple cider vinegar or rice vinegar, ½ cup water, 1/3 cup of sugar and 1 cinnamon stick in a small saucepan on medium heat. Bring to a simmer, stirring constantly, until the sugar is dissolved. Pour the vinegar mixture over the persimmons and let it cool to room temperature before capping. Refrigerate.

The next two recipes can also be made for home use, but they are extremely popular at farmers markets and specialty grocers. Persimmon Butter is very simple to make and can help you quickly work through an over-abundance of fruit. Hoshigaki is labor intensive but produces the most delicious product you can imagine that carries a price tag of $40 per pound.

Persimmon Butter
  • 2 pounds ripe persimmons
  • ¼ cup apple or pear juice
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Peel and cut persimmons into equal-sized wedges. Place persimmons along with the remaining ingredients in a saucepan and cook on medium heat until the fruit is soft, stirring constantly to prevent scorching.

Pour the mixture into a blender, or use an immersion blender, to blend until smooth.

Ladle the mixture into a sterilized quart-sized canning jar and apply lid and ring to finger-tight. Process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes. (yields about 1 quart)

Hoshigaki (Dried Persimmons)

Hoshigaki is the traditional Japanese method of drying persimmons. Saveur magazine calls hoshigaki the Kobe beef of dried fruit. Making this gourmet treat is time and labor intensive, but the results are well worth the effort.

To make hoshigaki, choose unblemished, ripened fruit. Gently wash and dry each persimmon. Peel the fruit, leaving the stem area intact.

Tie a strand of twine on each stem. If there is no stem, you can carefully insert a small metal screw into the cap and attach the twine to the screw.

Hang the persimmons in a bright window, out of direct sunlight. In approximately one week the peeled persimmons will develop another skin. Once this happens gently massage each persimmon daily. Massaging the persimmons with a few squeezes each day drives away the moisture and redistributes the sugars to the exterior.

In 4-6 weeks you will notice a white coating on the persimmons. This is the concentrated sugar that has been drawn out by the daily massaging. It is a sign that your hoshigaki is finished. Remove the twine and screws from the persimmons and store in an airtight container at room temperature.

A Few Tips For Your Dried Persimmons

If you live in a damp climate, there are a couple of tricks you can use to help with the drying process. Once you have cleaned and peeled your persimmons, dip them in boiling water for 10 seconds before hanging in a bright window. Put an oscillating space heater in the area and leave it running on low until the persimmons are dried.

Hoshigaki is a truly delicious and healthy snack and it makes a wonderful holiday gift. If you want to market this specialty product to high-end grocers and restaurants, I suggest you do two things: First, take pictures of the entire process. Print them out and create a small portfolio to show your potential buyer. Second, chop and dry a few persimmons in your dehydrator. Allow your buyer to sample both products. Dried persimmons are good, but there really is no comparison between the two products.

If you are looking for an interesting, healthy and tasty fruit to add to your homestead, I encourage you to give persimmons a try. They are easy to grow, simple to maintain, fun to cook with, and can be profitable to your homestead business.

Persimmon are a highly ornamental deciduous fruit tree with dense bright green foliage, spectacular orange and red autumn colours, light grey bark, and a beautiful twisted form in old age. In same cases, the large orange fruit are held on the bare branches after leaf-fall, creating a jeweled sculpture! Height is 3-10 m, tending to under 5m in the home garden.
Growing conditions

Persimmons require full sun, constant moisture in their root zone, and a climate with warm autumns to ripen fruit (particularly the non-astringent varieties). Young trees in particular need protection from wind, a weed-free root zone and free-draining soil –rich loams preferred, but even very sandy soils are tolerated.

Mulching & Feeding

Fertilise in late winter and early summer with heavy applications of manure, and keep well –mulched to suppress weed growth.

Pruning

Train to a pyramid (central leader) shape when starting off your young persimmon. The new growth that forms on the tips of last years wood, is where fruit will be produced, meaning DON’T prune this tree allover as you would an apple! Instead, in late winter, take out alternating branches each year (and any dead, broken, crossing or diseased wood), so that you leave room for new branches to go through the two years of growth without cutting that is required for them to produce fruit. Leave the remaining branches un-shortened, as it is the growth from from the tips of this wood that will flower and fruit this year.

Persimmon wood is brittle and branches can crack if the tree is overloaded with fruit. If this is a problem (young trees are especially vulnerable), thin out the fruit.

What does astringent mean?

Non-astringent varieties can be eaten when the colour has changed to orange yellow, but the fruit is still firm. Astringent varieties can only be eaten when fruit is very soft. It should, however, be picked when full colour depth is reached but the fruit is still firm. Then leave the fruit to ripen at room temperature.

Varieties

Fuyu (Vanilla)
Self-fertile. Non-astringent variety. May also be left to turn deep orange and soft. Medium-sized flat, seedless fruit, with attractive deep orange skin and sweet flavour. Slightly tougher skin helps the fruit to keep well. Can be eaten fresh, dried, and used in cooking. Late season maturity; mid May. Fruits on current season’s growth. Colourful autumn foliage.
Fuyu and Jiro have no male flowers so produce seedless fruit – but if a persimmon with male flowers is nearby, some pollination will occur, and seeds will result.

Dai Dai Maru
Self-fertile. Astringent variety. Medium-sized, flat, slightly, square fruit. Sweet and juicy with an orange-red skin when fully ripe. Can be eaten fresh, dried, and used in cooking. Early season maturity. Fruits on current seasons growth. Weeping tree with magnificent autumn foliage. A good home garden cultivar that produces heavy crops and requires minimal spraying.

Tanenashi
Self-fertile. Astrigent variety. HUGE, heart-shaped attractive fruit with golden orange skin, making this a very decorative tree. Fruit is seedless and flavour is sweet, however texture can be dry and grainy, meaning this is better regarded as a fruit for drying, or for its marvellous ornamental value. Mid-season maturity of fruit. Vigorous, heavy bearing tree, which begins producing at an early age, and features rusty orange autumn foliage.

Nightingale
Self-fertile. Astringent variety. Large, conical fruit, usually seedless and with matt-orange skin. Excellent flavour at full ripeness. Can be eaten fresh, dried, and used in cooking. Mid-season maturity. Fruits on current season’s growth, and is a heavy cropper. Dwarf variety with attractive autumn colour – ideal for small gardens. Needs minimal spraying. Ripens best on the tree.

Hyakume
Requires cross-pollination. Treat as Astringent variety for unseeded fruit, however many fruit will produce seeds, which give a cinnamon-brown colour and delicious sweetness to the flesh, even when still firm. Very large conical fruit with a blunt apex. Best eaten fresh. Mid-season maturity, brilliant red and yellow autumn colour.

Ichikikei Jiro
Self fertile. A bud sport of the Jiro. Leafs up a week later which may be handy if you are subject to late spring frosts. One of the most cold tolerant persimmons. Fruit is large and a little more square in shape. Otherwise very similar to the Jiro.

Jiro
A self fertile non-astringent semi dwarf variety. Drought and disease resistant and heat tolerant, mid season variety. Smooth, thin, shiny light orange skin and a sweet taste. If you eat the skin of the persimmon, then Jiro may be the one for you. Large (slightly larger than Fuyu) seedless fruit forming in abundant clusters.
Fuyu and Jiro have no male flowers so produce seedless fruit – but if a persimmon with male flowers is nearby, some pollination will occur, and seeds will result.

Maekawa Jiro
Self fertile. A bud sport of the Jiro, has rounder, less indented fruit and a beautiful flavour. Otherwise retains the same characteristics of the Jiro.

Wright’s Favourite
Self fertile. This is a true dwarf persimmon. Half the size of Tanenashi and Nightingale. Birdwood nursery (QLD) have a 30 year old plant at 2.2m tall. Fruit is full sized and deep orange.
Wright’s favourite is an astringent variety with a beautiful flavour, worththe wait for it to fully ripen! Self fertile.
Named for Lyle Wright OAM, plant breeder.

Fuyugaki
Self fertile. Another true dwarf persimmon. This one was developed by Lyle Wright at Hawksbury Agricultural College. It is a selection of Fuyu. Fuyu seeds were bought back after WWII and Fuyugaki was a dwarf selection from the seedlings. Self fertile.
Fuyugaki retains all the fantastic Fuyu qualities, but is a true dwarf form. Perfect for pot culture or grown where space is premium or simply by those who want minimal pruning requirements and easy netting if required. Medium-sized flat, seeded fruit, with attractive deep orange skin and sweet flavour. Fruits keep well. Can also be dried and used in cooking.

The fall months are typically when we think about harvesting and eating apples, but there is another great fall ripening tree fruit, Persimmon.

Persimmon, Diospyros virginiana, is a native tree with an edible fall maturing fruit. This tree grows 35-60 feet tall and 20-35 feet wide. The oval-shaped leaves of persimmon are arranged alternately on branches. They are dark green above and pale green on the leaf underside. Persimmons are dioecious, meaning trees have either male or female flowers, but not both. Dioecious plants require both male and female trees to produce a fruit crop, a pollinator tree is necessary. The small flowers on the tree are white to greenish white and found in clusters on the outer edges of the tree because the tree blooms on new wood. The fruits are orange, rounded, 1-1.5 inches in diameter, and have a 4-part calyx on top. The fruits mature in September to October after the first hard frost of the year. The fruit needs to be completely ripe and soft before they are eaten otherwise they are very astringent and inedible.

The native persimmon is the more commonly used persimmon in Nebraska because it is much more cold-hardy. There is also an oriental persimmon that would not be as tolerant of our cold temperatures. There are a few good choices of native persimmons to look for when shopping for your persimmon tree. ‘Early Golden’ is a good choice for early ripening fruits that are excellent quality, firm fruits. ‘Miller’ is a very productive variety with large, firm, flavorful fruits. ‘Woolbright’ is a productive tree with good flavor, but the fruits tend to split.

Persimmon is a great tree; if started from a container or balled and burlap and planted in your landscape at a young age. This tree, however, is difficult to keep alive when transplanted from one site to another. It grows best in full sun, but will tolerate some shade. Persimmon prefers to grow in moist, well-drained soils, but will tolerate drought conditions. This is a great acreage tree because it suckers well and can form a large stand. In addition, it makes a great urban tree, because it tolerates city soils and urban growing conditions.

Persimmon produces a great wood that has been used for golf club heads, billiard cues, flooring, and veneer according to Michael Dirr in the Manual of Woody Landscape Plants. It is a tree that is not browsed by deer. However, it is a good plant for wildlife because the fruits are eaten by raccoons, skunks, opossums, and foxes among other wildlife. Be careful with this species in areas where horses are kept because it can cause illness and death to horses if they eat the fruits, according to Michael Dirr.

Persimmon is a great tree for the overall shade and aesthetic value, but it will also produce a tasty fruit. They grow in many different locations and will even colonize given the opportunity. There are a lot of great varieties to choose from for different fruit characteristics. So, when a new planting opportunity presents itself on your landscape, look to persimmon for beautification as well as fruit production.

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