The persimmon tree is part of the genus diospyros, which is a member of the ebony wood family. It is native to China, but cultivated in countries around the world. Persimmons are especially popular in the United States as landscape trees. They are easy to grow and valued for their edible fruit, which ripens in fall or winter. The dark, glossy leaves of the tree are also considered attractive, and with proper care, persimmons can create a wonderful ornamental addition to any garden.
Space persimmon trees approximately 20 feet apart in the home garden or landscape. They need as much room as possible to fully develop and should not be planted near other trees. Plant in an area that does not drop below 10 degrees Fahrenheit in winter, as most persimmon varieties cannot tolerate extreme cold.
Water persimmons deeply once per month during May through October. Use a garden hose set on low to soak the soil surrounding the tree to a depth of several feet. Reduce watering to once every two months in November through April. Allowing the water hose to remain on for several hours will usually do the trick, but drip irrigation devices may also be used.
Fertilize young persimmon trees twice per year using a 10-10-10 NPK fertilizer or similar. Apply the first dose in early spring and the second in mid-summer, referring to the manufacturer's instructions for proper application. As a general rule, use approximately two ounces of fertilizer per year of the tree's growth. Reduce fertilization to once per year in spring after plants have reached four to five years of age.
Use pruning shears to remove dead or broken limbs in the spring. Also remove any crossing branches, and prune smaller branches if necessary to provide more air circulation to the center of the tree. As persimmon trees age, more extensive pruning can be performed to control size, but is not required.
Harvest persimmon fruit in the late fall or early winter, when the fruit is deep orange or red in color, soft to the touch and slightly translucent in appearance. Firm fruit may also be picked earlier and allowed to ripen in paper bags.
Thin persimmon fruit to six inches apart within one month after blooming to combat biennial bearing, or heavy fruiting one year and almost no fruiting the next year. This is common among many types of fruit trees but can be overcome by thinning the fruit during the heavy-bearing year. Thinning may be impractical with larger persimmon trees, but smaller trees can still be thinned when necessary.
Things You Will Need
- Garden hose
- Pruning shears
- Oriental persimmons may tolerate temperatures as low as 0 degrees Fahrenheit, so consider these varieties if you live in a climate with harsh winters.
- Hasten the ripening of unripened persimmon fruit by placing it in the freezer for 24 to 48 hours. Remove and thaw, and the fruit will be soft enough to eat and slightly sweeter, although it won't have the full flavor of naturally ripened fruit.
- Never apply high-nitrogen fertilizer to persimmon trees, as it can encourage the fruit to drop.
- Over-pruning young persimmon trees can stunt growth.
- Never allow immature persimmons to be exposed to frost, as this can ruin the fruit.