Photo: Helen Norman
Nurture | Persimmons tolerate a range of soil types if well drained. Mulch with pine bark or pine straw. Water regularly until established.
Feed with a product such as Espoma Citrus-tone (5-2-6).
Growing Zones | Middle, Lower, and Coastal South.
Stir together 4 'Fuyu' persimmons (about 6 oz. each), peeled and chopped; ¼ cup chopped red onion; ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro; 1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and minced; 2 Tbsp. fresh lime juice; 1 Tbsp. olive oil; and salt and pepper to taste. Serve with tortilla chips. Makes about 3½ cups. Hands-on 10 min., Total 10 min.
You may already be familiar with persimmons. Ones native to the South will make your mouth pucker up if you eat them before they're soft and ripe. However, you may not know their cousins, Oriental persimmons, with selections that can be either sweet or sour.
How To Plant an Oriental Persimmon Tree
Oriental persimmons (Diospyros kaki) love the heat of the South, require little to no spraying, and are self-fruitful, meaning you'll need only one tree to produce fruit. Not only are they easy to grow, but also they're beautiful in the landscape. These small- to medium-size trees (10 to 25 feet tall, depending on selection) have gray bark and leathery, green leaves that turn an array of yellows, oranges, and reds in the cooler days of autumn. Gather the bright orange fruit to eat fresh, make a favorite recipe, or just brighten your fall table.
How To Harvest Oriental Persimmons
Oriental persimmons can be either astringent or nonastringent. Sweet and crunchy when firm, the nonastringent types are best eaten fresh. Astringent persimmons are sour until they become very ripe and soft, so use them for drying or wait until they're fully ripe to enjoy them. Favorites for eating fresh are 'Matsumoto Wase Fuyu,' 'Fuyu,' and 'Fuyu Imoto.' For drying, try 'Saijo,' 'Hachiya,' and 'Tanenashi' (or in the Upper South, a cold-hardy selection such as 'Patapsco'). Whatever your preference, fall is the ideal time to shop for and plant persimmons. Look for them at your local nursery, or order online from starkbros.com, justfruitsandexotics.com, petalsfromthepast.com, and johnsonnursery.com.