If you’re lucky enough to have a persimmon tree in your landscape, you know the delights it brings. With proper persimmon tree care, its honey-tasting fruit, fragrant white blossoms, and gorgeous red fall leaves can be a boon to your home for years.
Even if you’re considering planting a persimmon tree, persimmon tree care tips can get your efforts on the right track. Read on to learn how to get the most out of a persimmon tree in your home landscape.
Choosing Your Persimmon Tree
There are a few considerations for choosing the type of persimmon tree that will work best for you. Beyond this brief introduction, Minneopa Orchards has much more information on the different kinds of persimmon trees.
Among Asian persimmons, the most widely cultivated persimmon varieties, some produce “astringent” fruit. This is the sweetest type of persimmon, with fruit sometimes compared to maple syrup. Astringent persimmons are best when ripened for a few days after picking when they become mushy.
Non-astringent persimmons can be eaten straight from the tree and have a crisp texture like an apple. They are less sweet than astringent persimmons, with a sweetness like cantaloupe.
Asian Persimmon vs. American Persimmon
If you get your persimmons from the grocery store, you’re likely buying Asian persimmons, probably either the non-astringent Fuyu variety or the astringent Hachiya. The Fuyu has a cinnamon taste, while the Hachiya tastes like honey, brown sugar, and raisins.
There is also an American persimmon, which grows wild but can also be cultivated. The various varieties of American persimmon are all astringent, with some carrying a taste described as honey or caramel.
In terms of growing either variety, you should know that Asian persimmons are self-pollinating, but growing American persimmons for fruit will require both male and female trees. The flowers of male American persimmon trees are whitish-green and clustered. The yellowish female flowers grow alone.
Planting Your Persimmon Tree
Elsewhere at Minneopa Orchards, you’ll find a comprehensive guide to planting a persimmon tree, but it’s worth including a brief overview here. Read on for general guidelines on persimmon tree care and how it can extract high-quality growth and yield from your tree.
A good thing about choosing a persimmon tree or two for your home is that they are not particularly sensitive to the type of soil in which they are grown. You shouldn’t have much trouble if the chosen spot for your persimmon tree has a soil pH of 6.5 to 7.5.
To explain, pH is a measure of the alkalinity or acidity of the soil. It is measured from 0 (most acidic) to 14 (most alkaline).
Persimmon Trees and the Sun
In addition to soil, the amount of sun needed for optimal growth and fruit yield is important in successful persimmon tree care. The most productive persimmon trees are those grown in full sun.
However, persimmon trees can also handle a part-shade environment. If you live in a place with sunny and hot summers, plant your persimmon tree in a spot with some afternoon shade.
Spacing for Multiple Persimmon Trees
If you want more than one persimmon tree or need both male and female trees for fruit production, one of the questions you’ll face is how far apart the trees should be planted.
Whether you’re growing self-pollinating or dioecious (separate male and female) persimmon trees, you should plant them 20 to 25 feet apart, and no more than 35 feet from each other.
Pruning as Part of Persimmon Tree Care
Pruning your persimmon tree can be beneficial as the tree is establishing itself. However, as you get a steady and substantial fruit yield, pruning is only necessary if you notice a decline in production.
Pruning your persimmon tree during its first five years aims to produce a strong network of main branches. To do that, thin out new shoots and branches each year. As the tree takes shape, you’ll want main branches that spread evenly from the trunk and don’t cross each other.
Leave a foot or so of space between those main branches to ensure sunlight reaches throughout the tree, optimizing health and yield as a best practice in persimmon tree care.
Fertilizing Your Persimmon Tree
You may never need to fertilize if you’ve planted your persimmon tree in good soil. However, if you don’t see at least a foot of annual growth in your tree, or if its leaves change in their degree of greenness, you may need to apply some fertilizer as part of your persimmon tree care.
Generally, an organic plant food may be enough to boost your tree, but an inorganic 10-10-10 fertilizer might also be in order. The numbers in fertilizer designations refer to the concentrations of nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium in the mix.
Never use high-nitrogen fertilizers for persimmon tree care; always use an organic fertilizer if you eat its fruits. Fertilize your tree in late winter or early spring, just as new growth appears.
Dealing With Persimmon Tree Pests and Diseases
One of the best reasons for adding a persimmon tree to your home landscape is that the trees are relatively free of disease and pest problems. Read on, though, for guidance on persimmon tree care in dealing with pests and diseases if or when they show up.
If you have pests bothering your persimmon tree, it will most likely be mealybugs or ants. Applying neem oil, an organic pesticide, should solve your problem in both cases. You can either spray neem oil on your tree, or you can pour it onto the soil, from which it will be absorbed by the tree.
While persimmon trees are relatively disease-free, crown gall and anthracnose are two potential problems for which to watch out as a regular part of persimmon tree care.
Crown gall will appear as rounded growths on branches extending to the tree’s roots. The disease most often infects persimmon trees from cuts in bark and can stunt the tree’s growth.
The best measure against crown gall is prevention, by ensuring that pruning is done while the tree is dormant and keeping weed whackers away from the tree’s base.
Also known as leaf blight, anthracnose is a fungal disease marked by black spots on leaves, possible loss of leaves, and the possible appearance of lesions on the persimmon tree’s bark. Anthracnose spores spend the winter in leaf litter and spread to the tree in spring as winds move them into foliage.
Anthracnose is rarely fatal to persimmon trees. As with crown gall, the best strategy for persimmon tree care is prevention, by clearing out leaf litter in the fall after your tree has dropped its leaves.
Boosting Persimmon Tree Fruit Production
Once your persimmon trees are established, American varieties can produce two to three bushels of fruit annually. Asian persimmon varieties can be expected to yield one to two bushels of fruit annually.
Ensuring that yield level, or perhaps getting even more from your persimmon tree — or trees — will require particular attention to watering. Once your tree is established and bearing fruit, not watering it sufficiently can reduce your yield.
A couple of rules of thumb exist for adequate watering as part of persimmon tree care. First, your goal should be an inch of water per week, whether from rainfall or watering. Another rule of thumb is to water your persimmon tree or trees for 10 minutes once or twice weekly during the spring and summer.
You don’t need to be too concerned about adding things to your soil to boost persimmon yield. One thing you should do with the soil as part of persimmon tree care, though, is to keep it mulched. Mulching protects your tree’s roots from temperature extremes, keeps weeds down, and conserves soil moisture.
Wood chips, shredded bark, and straw are good choices for mulch. Remember to keep the mulch at least four inches from the trunk to avoid stem rot.
Persimmon Tree Care Frequently Asked Questions
Now that you have an overview of persimmon tree care, you likely have more specific questions. Read on for more on growing and caring for persimmon trees.
How long does it take a persimmon tree to bear fruit?
One of the questions common to everyone who grows fruit trees is how long you’ll have to wait before harvesting your first crop. Almost always, the answer will depend on where you are growing your trees.
In mild climates like the western and southern United States, your persimmon tree should produce fruit within three to five years. The waiting game will be a little longer in cooler climates, such as the northeastern United States, where it may take up to eight years.
Can persimmon trees be grown in containers?
If the soil in your yard is mostly clay, or you live in a cold climate, don’t despair over growing a persimmon tree.
Persimmon trees, particularly dwarf varieties, are well-suited for container growth, provided you ensure the container you choose has ample room for roots to expand. Be prepared to move your persimmon tree to progressively larger containers as it grows.
Once your persimmon tree is in its container, find a place on your patio or deck where it will get full sun. As winter approaches, move it into an unheated garage or basement until the danger of frost has passed.
Wrapping up Best Practices for Persimmon Tree Care
With just a little bit of care, persimmon trees can be a great addition to your landscape. As you use these tips for persimmon tree care, check out other posts at Minneopa Orchards for much more on persimmon trees.