How To Grow And Care For An Oriental Persimmon Tree

You'll love the brilliant colors and delicious flavors you can harvest from your own Oriental persimmon tree.

How To Grow Persimmons
'Matsumoto Wase Fuyu' offers a bounty of crisp, tasty fruit. Photo: Helen Norman

You may already be familiar with persimmons. The 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. 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 30 feet tall, depending on the 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. Between the creamy white flowers in spring, glossy green leaves in summer, dramatic fall color, and large orange fruits in winter, this is an attractive tree year-round.

The entire fruit is edible, though there have been occasional cases of intestinal blockages developing from indulging in too many persimmons. The skins and fruit contain a tannin that can cause food fibers to ball up and turn hard in the digestive system. Make sure the fruit is fully ripe before you eat it, and remove the very tannic peels if you are concerned. Horses have been known to develop these blockages as well, so keep persimmons away from pets and livestock.

Plant Attributes
Common Name Asian persimmon, Japanese persimmon, Oriental persimmon
Botanical Name Diospyros kaki
Family Ebenaceae
Plant Type Deciduous fruit tree, shrub
Mature Size 20-30 ft. tall, 15-25 ft. wide
Sun Exposure Full
Soil Type Loamy, moist but well-drained
Soil pH Slightly acidic (6.0-6.5)
Bloom Time Spring
Flower Color White
Hardiness Zones 7-10
Native Area Asia

Oriental Persimmon Care

Compared to most fruit trees, Oriental persimmons are easy. They don't require annual thinning or a regular spraying program. They aren't fussy about chill hours, only needing about 100 hours of temperatures below 45 degrees in order to set fruit. They bloom late enough in spring that cold snaps are rarely a problem. Plant your persimmon in full sun in well-drained soil, and your tree is likely to do well.


This tree requires full sun in order to produce fruit. Plant on a site that receives at least six hours of direct sunlight a day. Eight hours is even better.


Oriental persimmon is fairly tolerant of all soil types, though it really thrives in loam. The tree does not like alkaline or thin, rocky soils. Most importantly, make sure you are planting in well-drained soil. Dig a hole twice as wide as the tree's root ball and a little deeper. Place the tree at ground level and backfill with the native soil. If your soil could use improvement, add a thin layer of compost on top. Then mulch around the tree to conserve moisture and add nutrients.


Your tree will appreciate regular watering during its first growing season. Oriental persimmon can tolerate short periods of drought after it is established. But watering the plant during dry spells can result in larger and better fruit. Water deeply for 10 minutes once or twice a week.

Temperature and Humidity

Oriental persimmons will grow in both dry and humid climates. They like warm temperatures and cannot survive winters where temperatures drop below 10 degrees. If you live in the Upper South, you may want to try one of the hybrid crosses of D. kaki and our native persimmon, D. virginiana.

These trees require 100-200 chill hours to fruit, depending on the cultivar. You may not get fruit if you live on the southern tip of Florida. Astringent cultivars—those that must fully ripen before they turn sweet—are better suited to southern Florida.


Minimal fertilizer is best, as too much nitrogen can cause fruit to drop. Have your soil tested by your extension office for advice. Persimmons shouldn't be fertilized in their first year in the garden. If leaves turn pale or yellow and growth is minimal, apply a balanced fertilizer like 10-10-10 in early spring.

Types Of Oriental Persimmon

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.'
  • Some good container varieties include 'Ichi-Ki-Kei-Jiro,' which grows 8-10 feet tall, and 'Maekawa Jiro,' which grows 12-15 feet.
  • For drying, try astringent varieties 'Saijo,' 'Hachiya,' and 'Tanenashi.' The first two are also cold-hardy in Zone 6.

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,,, and


Hands-off gardeners will be thrilled to hear this fruit tree requires very little pruning. Most of the pruning involves cleanup to preserve the health of the tree. In late winter or early spring before the tree breaks dormancy, remove branches that are crossing, broken, diseased, or dead. If you would like to reduce the size of your tree, you can prune long branches back by about 1/3, making sure you leave a bud facing the direction that you would like the tree to grow. You can prune the top of the tree if you are looking to reduce its height or shape it into a hedge or espalier. Persimmon trees tend to sucker; remove suckers regularly so your tree won't form a thicket.

Sometimes these trees will alternate between heavy crop years and small crop years. If branches are overburdened, thin the fruit to prevent limbs from breaking.

Propagating Oriental Persimmon

Because Oriental persimmon trees can self-pollinate, the fruit often doesn't contain seeds. If you collect seeds from your fruit, they will not be true to type. That means the sapling you grow is not likely to have fruit that resembles the mother plant, and the persimmons may have more value to the critters in your yard than they do to you.

For that reason, Oriental persimmons are propagated from cuttings. The trees that you buy from a nursery are usually grafted onto common persimmon rootstock to improve performance and disease resistance. You may not have a common persimmon tree around that you can use for this purpose, but you can try growing your own ungrafted cutting following these steps:

  1. Choose a 1-year-old shoot on your tree, which will be pencil-thin, soft, and flexible but not fully green. Do not use a sucker at the base of the tree, which comes from the rootstock. Using sharp pruners, cut a length 5 or 6 inches long from the tip of your selected stem.
  2. Remove leaves from the bottom half of the stem, as well as any flowers on the stem.
  3. Dip the cut end of your stem into rooting hormone, then stick it into a 4-inch pot filled with moist, high-quality potting soil. Bury half of the stem.
  4. Water well and cover the cutting and pot with clear plastic material. Place in bright, indirect light.
  5. Keep soil moist. After the cutting roots in a few weeks, you can remove the plastic. You can gradually acclimate the sapling to the outdoors in mild weather.
  6. Though you may be able to transplant the sapling successfully, many growers recommend waiting until the next spring. When the plant outgrows its pot, repot it in a larger container. When all danger of frost has passed, begin to gradually expose the tree to more and more sunlight, and then transplant it in the garden.

Potting And Repotting Oriental Persimmon

You can grow an Oriental persimmon tree in a container, especially if you live in an area with zero-degree days in winter. Choose a pot with drainage holes that is at least 2 inches wider in diameter than the nursery pot. The tree's growth (and possibly fruiting) will be restricted based on how large of a pot you choose. This may be a good thing if you need to move the pot indoors for part of the year.

Plant in high-quality potting soil, making sure that the tree is planted at the same level it was at in its original container. Water when the top inch of the potting mixture is dry. Repot your tree every two to three years with fresh soil.


An Oriental persimmon can be killed back to the ground in a harsh winter, especially when temperatures drop below 10 degrees. Any new growth that appears the following spring could be coming from the rootstock. Even if your Oriental persimmon does revive, it may be a few years before it fruits again. The best approach for Upper South gardeners is to buy a grafted cultivar that is advertised to handle Zone 6 winters. Another approach is to grow your tree in a container and move it to a protected environment in winter. An unheated garage that stays above freezing will serve. Reduce watering while your tree is dormant and in low light. Move it back outdoors once all danger of frost has passed.

Common Pests & Plant Diseases

Though Oriental persimmons are easy to grow, they can be susceptible to leaf spot, crown gall, and anthracnose. Leaf spot appears as small brown or purple spots on the foliage, and usually isn't serious enough to require spraying.

Crown gall causes wart-like growths on the trunk or branches. It can stunt tree growth and reduce leaf size and fruiting. There is no cure, and young trees with crown gall are best disposed of before the bacteria spread to other woody plants in the garden. Older trees can survive in the landscape for years, but you should sterilize your tools any time you prune them.

Persimmon trees can sometimes develop anthracnose, which causes black spots on leaves that begin to drop from the bottom of the tree up. Black, sunken areas can appear on stems, branches, and fruit as well. Rake and burn or dispose of any leaves in the trash. If you catch the fungal infection early, you may be able to prune diseased stems in winter to help control it. With smaller trees, spray the tree with a copper fungicide in spring just as leaves are beginning to open.

Oriental persimmons rarely face serious damage from insects. Large insects can be picked off the tree and dropped into soapy water. Spraying is not necessary (or recommended while the tree is flowering and pollinators are nearby) unless significant defoliation occurs. Trees can sometimes be attacked by the persimmon borer, which infests the common persimmon rootstock rather than the upper portion of the tree. The adult moth is black and usually has an orange band across its abdomen. In summer, the whitish larvae tunnel into the wood. You may see loose bark and frass at the base of the tree. The larvae can eventually girdle and kill the tree. Borers can be cut out of the tree with a sharp knife. They are difficult to spray for, so talk to your local extension office for recommendations.

Persimmons are a favorite of wildlife, which can grab the fruit before it ripens. You can harvest the fruit earlier and allow it to ripen indoors.

How To Get Oriental Persimmon To Bloom

Your spring-flowering tree might not bloom due to weather, light conditions, or disease. This may require nothing more than patience. A newly planted tree can sometimes take a year or two to bloom, or a late spring frost could affect flowering in a given year. Shade will also reduce or prevent flowering, so do what you can to increase light exposure if your plant is not in full sun. Water your tree during hot, dry weather to keep it healthy. Avoid nitrogen fertilizers and heavy pruning. With these steps, you are likely to see more blooms in the following year.

Oriental persimmon trees also tend to alternate between heavy flowering and light flowering years. Expect fewer flowers in some years.

Common Problems With Persimmon

Fruit drop is probably the most common problem that occurs with these trees. Fruit can fall because of too much fertilizer, hot weather, cold weather, and drought. Give your tree a good drink if it's stressed by heat and drought. Mulching the tree can help regulate soil temperature and retain moisture.

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