Persimmon Trees Have Sweet Fruit and Gorgeous Fall Foliage
Plucking persimmons is something we all wish we could do in our gardens. Plant a tree or two, cultivate them carefully, and you'll be nearer than ever to this gardening goal. With their stunning deciduous foliage, which begins green and turns to vibrant red and orange in fall, to their sweet fruits, persimmon trees are true charmers. The two persimmons most often grown in the South are the American persimmon, also known as Diospyros virginiana, and the Japanese persimmon, also known as Diospyros kaki. Both thrive in full sun, but their water needs vary depending on the species and where they're planted. Think you have what it takes to grow an ornamental persimmon? Read on, choose your selections, and plan your planting today.
About American Persimmon
This persimmon (Diospyros virginiana) is native to the U.S. and can be found throughout the Southern states. According to The New Southern Living Garden Book, it is "native from Connecticut to Kansas and southward to Texas and Florida." It has shiny green leaves and gray-brown bark along its trunk and branches. The persimmon is deciduous, and its leaves turn yellow, pink, red, or purple in autumn. The tree can grow to heights of 35 to 60 feet and widths of 35 feet. Its fruit is round and appears yellow or orange. Once ripe, it tastes very sweet; the fruit usually ripens in early fall.
Caring for American Persimmon
American persimmons need occasional pruning to shear any spent branches. They also require moderate to regular watering. In regards to selections, according to The New Southern Living Garden Book, " ‘Meader' is self-fruitful; its fruit is seedless if not pollinated. ‘Early Golden' has more flavorful fruit; it needs cross-pollination for best crop." While not all selections require winter chill, depending on where they're planted, it can be beneficial for the trees. In most cases, both male and female trees are required to produce fruit, though some selections, including ‘Meader,' will produce fruit if planted on their own.
About Japanese Persimmon
For an ornamental persimmon, you won't find any prettier than this one (Diospyros kaki). Its foliage turns from light green to dark and then bright yellow, red, and orange in the autumn months. After shedding its leaves, the red-orange fruit appears and lasts well into winter. This persimmon grows to sizes of 30 feet tall and wide.
Caring for Japanese Persimmon
When pollinated, ‘Chocolate' produces sweet fruit with seeded flesh. ‘Fuyu Umoto' has square fruit that tastes delicious, while ‘Izu' is a smaller tree with round, medium-size persimmon fruit. These trees require some pruning while they're establishing, but once they're full-size, they need trimming only to remove spent branches and for shaping purposes. These persimmons take well to many uses, including as shade trees and as espaliers. According to The New Southern Living Garden Book, "Some Japanese persimmon selections are astringent until soft-ripe—at which stage they become very sweet. To save the crop from birds, pick fruit when fully colored but still hard, then let it ripen off the tree."
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What fruit trees do you have in your yard? Do you plan on planting any persimmons this year?