How To Grow And Care For American Persimmons

Tasty fruit harvested from October through January.

Persimmon (Diospyros virginiana) trees produce gorgeous fall and winter fruit, putting on a show toward the end of autumn when all other shrubbery, flowers, and landscaping have started to fade. According to the Agricultural Marketing Resource Center, two primary varieties of persimmon are 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 or common persimmon, is native to the East Coast and more cold hardy than the Asian variety. They can be grown from New York 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.

Persimmons have oval-shaped leaves that turn yellow, pink, or purple in the autumn. In the spring or early summer, yellow-green to white flowers emerge in fragrant bell shapes. After flowering, persimmon trees bear edible fruits that ripen in the fall.

Plant Attributes

Plant Attributes
 Common Name:  American Persimmon, Common Persimmon, Possum Apples, Sugar Plum
 Botanical Name:  Diospyros virginiana
 Family:  Ebenaceae
 Plant Type:  Perennial, Tree, Fruit
 Mature Size:  30-60 ft. tall, 20-24 in. diameter
 Sun Exposure:  Full, Partial
 Soil Type:  Loamy, Moist, Well-drained
 Soil pH:  Acidic (6.0 to 6.5)
 Bloom Time:  Spring
 Flower Color:  Yellow, Green, White
 Hardiness Zones:  Zones 4-11 (USDA)
 Native Area:  North America

Persimmons Care

Persimmons are not fast-growing fruit trees. 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—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. Asian persimmons are self-fruiting, which means no cross-pollinating is necessary. Persimmons require full sun, and well-drained, loamy soil. 


Persimmons grow best in full sun, but partial afternoon shade is tolerated, especially in hot climates. Plant persimmon trees in an area receiving enough daily sunlight through autumn as the fruit ripens.


Persimmons grow relatively well in most soil types, even tolerating heavy clay or dry soils. This tree is drought-tolerant once established and needs well-draining soil to prevent root rot, fungus, or other soil-borne diseases. Persimmon trees grow best in loamy soil with a slightly acidic pH.


The relatively drought-tolerant tree tolerates dry conditions. Unless there is a prolonged drought period, persimmons should only require watering deeply at the roots weekly after establishing. After transplanting or when first establishing roots, persimmon trees are more sensitive to water intake.

Temperature and Humidity

American persimmons are cold-hardy and heat-tolerant. These trees tolerate some humidity but require proper air circulation and protection from strong winds.


In addition to well-draining, loamy soil, persimmons don't require much additional fertilizer if starting with a healthy growing environment. After establishing, if a persimmon tree begins to develop mature leaves with less foliage or color, add a slow-release balanced 10-10-10 fertilizer during late winter or early spring.

Types of Persimmons

Within the two persimmons varieties, American and Asian, several cultivars are also available. Some bear edible fruit, while others do not. The cultivars that contain unedible fruit are considered astringent and non-astringent varieties turn from green to orange with maturity. Here are a few cultivar selections to know:

  • 'Fuyu': An astringent variety available late in the season. 
  • 'Izu': Ripening in the early season, around September, this is a non-astringent and medium-sized persimmons tree. 
  • 'Hachiya': An astringent, semi-self-pollinating, deciduous tree.


Persimmon trees need very little pruning, but to help control their shape, cut back the branches when it is dormant during the late winter or early spring. Pruning young persimmon trees help maintain a healthy branch structure, which will support the tree when bearing fruit clusters, as it can become heavy and snap the branches. Corrective pruning—removing dead, broken, or diseased branches—will also help build a solid foundation. When pruning after the fruit-bearing season, cut the stems back one-third.

Propagating Persimmons

The best way to duplicate a persimmon tree is through cuttings. Here's how to propagate a persimmon tree to get a clone of the parent tree: 

  1. In autumn, before the first frost, water the persimmons tree deeply one to two days before taking cuttings. 
  2. Use a sharp pruning shear or knife to cut a five-to-six-inch stem. Use trees with mature shoots, at least one year old, and select a side shoot from the main branch. 
  3. Cut a vertical one-to-two-inch slide into each hardwood cutting and place it in a sealed plastic bag to retain moisture. 
  4. Plant hardwood cuttings in a container filled with potting soil. Use a mix of perlite, sand, peat, and vermiculite in a well-draining container. 
  5. After watering the potting soil, cover the cuttings with a plastic bag to enhance the humidity. 
  6. Keep the soil moist and place the container in indirect sun or under an incandescent light bulb. Give plants at least 12 hours of total daily sunlight. 
  7. After roots develop, transplant the persimmon cuttings once the last front passes. Gradually expose the cuttings to the outdoor environment until the roots are strong enough to plant in their final location. 

How to Grow Persimmons From Seed

Harvest seeds from fully ripe persimmon fruit or purchase from a garden center. After harvesting seeds, soak them in water for three days and remove any remaining flesh. Place clean seeds in a damp paper towel and seal them in a glass or plastic container before putting them in the refrigerator for about three months. This cold exposure, or stratification, helps overwinter the seeds. 

Use a seed starting tray or another tall container with proper drainage to plant multiple seeds two inches deep in potting soil. Keep the tray in an area of at least 70°F and wait six to eight weeks for seedlings to emerge. Keep the well-draining soil moist and in a bright, warm room. 

When the last frost passes, start gradually exposing seedlings to outdoor elements until it's time to transplant them to their final location. Dig a hole 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 only need watering if the area is going through a drought and don't require pruning at the time of planting. Expect fruit from persimmon trees grown from seed in about three to five years. 

Potting and Repotting Persimmons

Persimmons growing in a pot or container should be repotted with fresh soil every two or three years. Plant at the same depth as the disposable pot you received, and use a potting mix that will stay loose around the root system. Make sure to opt for a container that can hold the plant but with room to spare for future growth. Keep the container well-drained, as with just about any potted plant. Water when needed, but take special care not to over water as it can lead to root rot.


Persimmon trees are cold-hardy and can tolerate temperatures of -25°F. Protect persimmons grown in containers by moving them to a heated garage or another area indoors protected from harsh weather like the wind. Adding a layer of mulch around the roots will help insulate the tree during the winter. Composted wood chips or straw, a slowly decomposing mulch, is best around trees.

Common Pests & Plant Diseases

Persimmon trees are relatively pest and disease free. Some pests, like mealybugs and ants, occur, but neem oil can treat this infestation. Use a non-toxic and all-natural oil to salvage the fruit. 

Other diseases, including crown gall and leaf blight, might occur. Crown gall is a soil-borne disease presenting rounded growths on the tree's branches and roots. Bark wounds can also encourage crown galls from taking root. Leaf blight is a fungal disease that appears as black spots on the tree's foliage. The disease begins near the bottom of the tree and spreads if left untreated. In particularly humid conditions, leaf blight can spread from spores to new foliage or through leaf litter during its dormant season. Treat with a fungicide.

Common Problems With Persimmons

Curling Leaves

Curling persimmon leaves signifies an aphid-like pest on the foliage. While the damage is primarily superficial, it can also prevent future growth. Keep this issue under control by applying horticultural oil in late winter or early spring. Additional pests called scale and blister mites weaken persimmon foliage, making it more prone to disease.

Leaves Turning Yellow

When new persimmon leaves turn yellow, the main reason is a soil pH imbalance—older leaves might remain dark green. Check the surrounding growing area's pH and adjust the tree's soil to be slightly acidic to neutral. Add sulfur and spray leaves with a water-based solution depending on the soil type.

Flowers Falling Off

Depending on the persimmon variety, flowers can take up to five years to emerge. It takes even longer for trees to bear fruit, often up to 10 years for American Persimmon trees. Both primary types of persimmon trees have alternate years open, meaning you'll have a more significant fruit production one year, followed by a below-average fruit bearing. Another reason that persimmon trees do not bloom is it's lacking phosphorus. Amend the soil with a bone meal mixture around the tree to resolve this issue.

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