Is There a Prettier Fruit Tree Than a Persimmon?
Persimmon trees produce some of the most gorgeous fruit, putting on a show toward the end of autumn when the rest of our shrubberies, flowers, and landscaping has started to fade. If you want to add one of these beauties to your yard, check out these tips helpful tidbits on growing persimmons.
What Kinds of Persimmons Are Grown in the U.S.?
According to the Agricultural Marketing Resource Center, there are two primary varieties of persimmon grown in the United States: Diospyros kaki and Diospyros virginiana. The former, also known as the Asian or Japanese persimmon, is commercially grown, with Southern growers predominantly found in Florida, though California reigns as the top national producer. Diospyros virginiana, also known as American persimmon or common persimmon, is native to the East Coast and more cold hardy than the Asian variety. They can be grown from New York all the way down to South Florida and as far East as Texas' Colorado River Valley. Asian persimmons produce larger fruit than the American variety, though the American variety is known to have a more flavorful fruit.
When Is Persimmon Season?
Persimmons are a fall/winter fruit. If you're looking to give your traditional holiday favorites a seasonal (and perhaps unexpected) spin, opt for a recipe that highlights beautiful persimmons like our Persimmon Cake or Persimmon Pudding. You should be able to find them at the grocery store or farmers' market, depending on your location, from October through January.
Persimmons Can Help Predict the Weather
Wait, what? Farmers' Almanac explains that, according to folklore, if you split open the seed of a persimmon that's been locally grown, the shape inside the seed can help determine the winter weather ahead. A fork means a mild winter, a spoon or shovel means lots of snow, and a knife can be an indicator of a bitter cold winter—which probably should be taken with a grain of salt if said persimmon is hailing from Florida.
Persimmon Growing Zone
The National Gardening Association contends Asian persimmons can be grown from USDA hardiness zones 7 to 11 and the American persimmon from zones 5 to 11.
How Fast Does a Persimmon Tree Grow?
Persimmons are not a fast-growing fruit tree. Japanese persimmon trees might not produce fruit for five to six years or longer (depending on whether you're starting with a seed or graft), while American persimmons, though more fast-growing, might not produce fruit at all; the reason being that seedlings are either male or female, with the male variety never producing fruit. Alternatively, if you have a female American persimmon seedling but do not have a male seedling in which to pollinate its flowers, it will not make fruit either. So, if you're hoping to have a fruit harvest on your hands, it's best to opt for Diospyros kaki, if your climate allows. Asian persimmons are self-fruiting, which means no cross-pollinating is necessary.
How To Grow a Persimmon
Missouri-based Stark Bro's Nurseries & Orchards Co. is a great resource for how to grow persimmons, whether starting in the ground or in a pot. Here are a few helpful tips to get you started:
In the Ground: Persimmons require full sun, and well-drained, loamy soil. Dig a hole that's four times the span of the roots to ensure they have plenty of room to expand. When planting, do not fertilize, but mulch around the tree, leaving a perimeter of a few inches around the tree trunk to avoid moisture accumulation. They don't need watering unless the area is going through a drought, and also don't require pruning at the time of planting.
In a Pot: If you're growing your persimmon in a pot or container, they should be repotted with fresh soil every two or three years. You should plant at the same depth as the disposable pot in which you received it, and using a potting mix that will stay loose around the root system. Make sure to opt for a pot that can hold the plant, but with room to spare for future growth. As with just about any potted plant, the container should be well drained. Water when needed but take special care not to overwater as it can lead to root rot.