You can prune and train persimmon to grow into a large shrub or a tree that can reach 25 feet tall. Persimmon is hardy and easy to grow; it requires little maintenance and tolerates most soils and climates. Once mature, the tree produces an edible fruit that ranges in color from pale orange to deep orange-red.
Start your persimmon from seeds collected from harvested fruit or an established tree. Wrap the seeds in moist paper towels and place them in the refrigerator for several months to trigger germination. This process is called cold stratification.
Plant germinated seeds in a deep container to accommodate the long persimmon taproot. Bury the seeds about 2 inches below the surface of the soil; use a well-draining potting mixture to prevent root rot. Keep the persimmon plant in a warm, moist environment.
Transplant your persimmon outdoors to a sunny location with plenty of air movement. Persimmon trees will tolerate partial shade, but the fruit may fail to ripen without sufficient sunlight and warmth. Plant the tree in well-drained soil with a pH of 6.5 to 7.5. The best time to plant seedlings outdoors is at the end of their first growing season.
Water your tree regularly to promote larger and better quality fruit. While persimmon can tolerate short periods of drought once established, excessive dryness will cause the fruit and leaves to drop off the tree prematurely. Water more frequently in the spring and summer and in hotter, inland areas. Drooping leaves are an indication that your tree needs more-frequent watering. Overwatering may lead to root rot.
Avoid overfertilizing your tree to prevent the fruit from dropping. Most persimmon trees require no fertilization. When growth is slow or fruit production is unsatisfactory, you can apply a 10-10-10 fertilizer in late winter or early spring.
Prune your persimmon tree while it is still young to encourage development of a strong main framework. Without sufficient support, the heavy fruit may cause branches to break. Remove a portion of new growth and trim older branches each year. Once your tree form is established, you should prune only to thin excessive growth.
Harvest astringent persimmon fruit when it is fully colored but still hard. The astringent fruit will continue to ripen off the tree as long as the fruit is stored at room temperature. Harvest non-astringent varieties when the fruit is fully colored and slightly soft. Cut the stems as close to the fruit as possible using pruning shears.
Watch for signs of disease and insect infestation. Mealy bugs, twig girdler, webworm, wilt fungus, scale, white flies, thrips and mites are all threats. Treat any problems promptly to ensure the continued health and growth of your tree. Burn diseased trees to prevent infection of nearby plants.