I will be the first to admit that we have bought several fruit trees from a well known Supermarket and with a little bit of care now have cherries, pears and plums. However when it comes to persimmon trees a little bit more care is needed to get a healthy harvest.
Traditionally grown from grafted stock, persimmon is the frost tolerant fruit tree that will love a slightly wet soil. Ideal in the UK and USDA zones 4-9. Growing to 7m in height, it requires a spot with sun and adequate drainage. Ready to harvest Sharon fruit from around year 7 and for decades to come.
There are a few little foibles to follow and we wanted to share harvesting tips and a few recipes as well!
Growing Persimmon From Cuttings
This it the only real option for Persimmon trees as growing from seed is time consuming and you may want to get a harvest sooner.
Generally speaking we grow fruit trees from grafted plants and persimmon is a great example of a fruit tree that you want to buy ready to go. It will take around 7 years for your tree to flower and therefore buying a slightly more mature plant will aid you immeasurably as once started they will produce fruit for decade to come.
In the UK you may struggle to find the persimmon tree in mainstream nurseries, however looking at specialist online stores can help.
Just be aware that even in a 3 litre pot your Sharon fruit tree will be around 60-80cm in height. It is going to get big and fast! This is the height of at least a 2-3 year old plant, so this means you are ahead on your flowering and fruiting period!
The two main varieties of Persimmon you will grow are the American Diospyros Virginiana and the Asian or Japanese variety Diospyros Kaki.
Positioning & Care
There are often questions about why your persimmon may not have blossomed or produced fruit. Here are a few tips to enable you to get the most from your trees.
Set out your persimmon plants in either early Spring or Winter. The dormant period is what we are looking for. Spacings should be no less than 6m (20 feet) apart in all directions. If you are planting the self-pollinating variety we have mentioned above it is still ideal to have more than one tree.
- Use a layout similar to an orchard. Think about the way the 5 is represented on a standard set of dice. This helps your flying pollinators and the breeze to cross pollinate from different trees. Only having one persimmon tree, even self-pollinating can reduce your ratio of flowering to fruit production.
- Dig your holes and add in bone meal and blood mix that you can get as an organic mix here. This will provide a rich fertilizer that does not include nitrogen. You want to avoid nitrogen rich feed as this will inhibit fruit growth with a persimmon tree.
- Adequate drainage is the absolute must have for a persimmon tree to bare fruit. Soggy roots is bad but wet roots is great. This means lots of rainfall, but also it drains away. So dig through plenty of well rotted organic matter before planting. If you have clay heavy soil, use a grit or sand to break down the clay and add aeration to your soil.
- If you are looking for a faster time from planting to flowering and therefore producing your Sharon fruit do not go for growing from seed. Yes it is more satisfying and always a nice challenge for a gardener but you could be looking at upwards of ten years. Grafted trees take up to seven years and you can have luck from 5 years onwards for flowers.
- Frost tolerant though it may be your persimmon tree will really benefit from a fleece in those more severe Winter conditions. This can also mean it springs to life the next year a little faster. A little over wintering will go a long way.
- Aphids, Slugs and Snails & Garden Pests can have a detrimental effect on younger plants. If your persimmon is suffering a real infestation you can expect it to delay fruiting by at least that growing season. So the solution is to introduce plenty of natural predators to your garden and even to grow with mint at the foot of your plant to discourage bad bugs. Mint is the ideal companion plant for Persimmon.
- Sometimes we are asked why the fruit grows but is not a great taste or is even rotting on the tree. Do not wait for the fruit to ripen on the tree as you will find a lot of rotten Sharon fruit. Instead harvest as the fruit are still a little harder and ripen on a windowsill in a warm spot. October is the time that you will be looking for harvesting.
Patience is the key to growing fruit trees. They can sometimes seem to work on a two year cycle as well. Where the first fruiting year sees lots of little persimmon and the second year sees fewer larger Sharon fruit. Just let your trees get settled and then you will have a plentiful supply each year.
Growing Persimmon From Seed
Take into consideration that most persimmon varieties are grafted from cuttings and this asexual propagation allows for the true properties to be passed on fully. Growing from seed can be rewarding but with variations.
- Gather fresh seeds in late Autumn / Fall. Take from fully ripe fruit that has been left on the tree but is free from any imperfections. Cut the Sharon fruit open and remove the seeds with a spoon.
- Soak your fresh persimmon seeds for a few days as they will have that slimy covering that will rot the seeds if left on. After a few days rub the seeds to remove this gunk, but you will also have soft seeds so go gently.
- Moisten a paper towel and put the seeds inbetween this and then into an airtight container in your refrigerator. You are going to need to stratify your persimmon seeds. Stratification mimics the cold of winter and the awakening of Spring, it also helps to crack the outer casing of the seed allowing the germ to sprout forth. The bad news is that this process will take between 2 and three months with Persimmon seeds and they will need to remain moist the whole time.
- Long taproots are the biggest issue for growing persimmon seedlings. So ensure you plant in tall pots. One seed per pot and 2 inches deep. Cover with potting compost and keep warm. Sharon fruit seeds take between 6-8 weeks to germinate from planting.
- Keep them warm and moist at all times. A heating mat will help with this. Keep seedlings in a bright and warm location with plenty of sunlight. Do allow the top to dry out and water once a week.
- Do not plant into the ground until at least the Autumn / Fall of the first year. They will be too small and if planting in the lawn will get overtaken by the grass!
TOP TIP – germination rates are exceedingly low with persimmon and growing from seed will mean a long lead time until fruit is produced. You are also not guaranteed a faithful clone of the mother plant. All things considered it is a much more reliable way to grow Sharon fruit from grafted cultivars.
How To Grow Persimmon In Pots
Persimmon trees have a long taproot. This vertical growing means you can tailor your pot’s size to suit and manage to have a thriving tree. Even by growing in the largest of containers you are restricting growth and so a dwarf variety may be the best option. You large pot will be extremely heavy and therefore not portable once potted up.
The size of the pot is so important and Elixir Gardens have a 130 liter pot with handles, available here, the handles being for two strong people to lift and move your tree. Never attempt to lift on your own as this could very easily cause you severe back problems.
Before transplanting your persimmon water it well to reduce the shock. Then simply fill your pot with a good quality peat free compost. Mix in the blood and bone meal to allow for adequate feed and then move your tree into position. Cover with a nitrogen poor mulch. Just woodchip for preference. Water in well and leave in a Sunny spot that is protected from harsh winds.
Due to the size your tree will grow to this is not suitable for balconies or for those of you hoping to achieve 10m in height. Your taproots will suffer as a result of being in a pot for it’s lifetime. I would suggest that this is a good option if you are renting and intend to move to your forever home in the next 5 years or so. Then you can really water your potted persimmon tree well and transfer to the ground.
Harvesting & Storing Persimmon
Cut your Sharon fruit from the tree before it is ripe. This is essential as you will be harvesting towards the start of Winter and it can go wrong very quickly otherwise. Leave the pedicel on the fruit (the short little stalk and leaves). Persimmon ripens well on a warm windowsill in your potting shed or home. The weather should be your guide here.
Persimmon fruit will store of four months in a cool, dark place. However it is a very popular ingredient for jams and chutney’s. The flavor being a cross between mango and apricot and the texture like custard lends itself to puddings and smoothies!
If you are eating a persimmon fresh it is too soft when ripe to cut, so instead, slice it in half and scoop out the middle like you would a boiled egg. Sweet and healthy!
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Hopefully we have inspired you to think about growing your own persimmon tree or even orchard! Once you have the space you can grow to your hearts content.
Best of luck and we would love to hear how you have got on and any recipes would be amazing too! It is always nice when we get inspired by you as well!