Diospyros virginiana – American
Diospyros kaki – Asian
USDA Zones 4 – 9 – American
USDA Zones 7 – 10 – Asian
Soil pH 6.5-7.5
Full Sun ~ Partial Shade
Persimmons are a little known fruit , that have gotten a bad reputation over the years, primarily due to the terrible taste of the unripened fruits.
Persimmon fruit is very astringent, extremely tart before the fruit ripens. Once fully ripe, persimmons have a sweet honeylike flavor and smooth buttery texture.
The American persimmon, is indigenous to the east coast USA from Florida to as far north as Connecticut and Massachusetts. It is found as far west as Iowa and northern Texas. USDA plant hardiness zones 4 through 9. It will tolerate freezes of 20 F below zero.
Persimmon trees grow up to 50 feet tall. They are attractive trees with large tough leaves that help to create an aesthetic autumn color-scape. The fruit is a bright orange that will often stay on the branches long after the leaves drop in the fall. Persimmons are versatile and will adapt to a wide variety of soils.
An important variable in growing persimmon trees is the type of trees to plant. Not the cultivar, but the gender of the tree. Persimmons can be a bit tricky to pollinate. They are frequently bisexual, in that the male trees sometimes produce female flowers and females function as males.
The best way to ensure fruit production is to plant a self-fertilizing female tree. To get fruit from non self-fertilizing varieties, you’ll need to graft a male branch onto a female tree or plant at least one of each sex.
See – Grafting Fruit Trees
When planting, choose a sunny , well drained location. Persimmon trees have a long central taproot, so your planting hole will need to be deeper than usual. The best time to plant a bareroot tree is in early spring, but they can also be planted in the fall. Set bare root trees in the center of the planting hole, spreading the roots down and away from the center . Try not to bend them anymore than is absolutely necessary.
Mix organic amendments such as well composted manure or plant materials into the soil to improve it’s structure, fertility and moisture retention. Beyond that very little fertilizer will ever be needed for persimmon trees they are low maintenance.
Excess fertilizer will actually do more harm than good.
Water the plants thoroughly, especially during their first season. Some newly planted persimmon trees will remain dormant during the first growing season, especially in cooler climates, this is not a major concern. Water younger trees thoroughly until they are established. Thereafter, you’l only need to water during dry spells and periods of drought. Mature established trees will withstand long dry spells.
Persimmon trees will produce suckers rampantly. These should be kept in check with heavy organic mulching and cultivation. Pruning should be confined to light thinning and pruning back of aged and excessive growth. They are pretty much pest-free and disease resistant. Scales and borers are sometimes a minor problem. In the South mealybugs are frequently a problem.
Persimmons should not be harvested until the fruits are soft.
The ripe fruits are a treat to the palate when eaten fresh, they are commonly used to make pies, jellies, desserts and etc. Baking soda added in very modest amounts will remove any lingering tartness when baking persimmons. Unpicked fruit will often hang on the tree through the winter , the Indians cherished this tree, as it provided a ready winter food source.