Persimmon trees hail from the eastern United States, where they grow in the wild, though they were widely cultivated by Native Americans many years ago. In fact, the name Persimmon is derived from the Native American word ‘putchamin,’ which means dried fruit.
Persimmon fruits ripen on the tree in fall, providing a source of food throughout the winter. There are two main types of American persimmon tree, which produce either astringent or non-astringent fruits. The astringent fruits are shaped like a pepper and tend to have a very bitter taste. These fruits are typically best used in cooking or for dried fruit. The non-astringent persimmons are shaped like a tomato and are best eaten fresh from the tree.
Persimmon Tree Overview
|Origin||Eastern United States|
|Scientific Name||Diospyros virginiana|
|Common Names||Persimmon Tree, American Persimmon Tree, Common Persimmon Tree|
|Watering||Moist, well-draining soil|
|Height||Up to 35 feet|
This tree bears fruit that is astringent when seedless. The fruits are oblong shaped and are of a small to medium size. The skin is red-orange with brown interior flesh, which is where this variety gets its name. These fruits must be ripened until they are soft in order to be eaten, which usually happens in late October to early November. The tree itself grows vigorously to be very large and features many beautiful blossoms (Growables).
This is the most commonly grown non-astringent persimmon tree grown in Florida and is the most widely cultivated persimmon tree in the world. Its popularity is not surprising as it a self-pollinating tree and therefore will produce fruit by itself without needing a pollinating partner. It is also well-known for producing an abundance of large and sweet tasting fruits.
The fruits, which are ripe in November, can be eaten straight from the tree or work well sliced up in salads. They have a crisp texture similar to an apple and a pleasant taste. Another benefit of this variety is that it is pest free. The outer skin of these persimmons is orange-red, while the inner flesh is a speckled deep orange.
Caring for Your Persimmon Tree
Persimmon trees need to be watered deeply, especially when young and developing into strong trees. Because of this, they need to be planted in well-draining soil to prevent the soil from becoming waterlogged and the roots from rotting. You need to strike a good balance when watering your persimmon tree, ensuring it has plenty of water but equally not overwatering it. To do this, you should wait for the trees top soil to dry out before watering it again. Also take into account any rainfall and water less in times of wet weather. As the persimmon trees becomes mature, it will not require as much water, but it will not be drought-tolerant either.
Persimmon trees must be planted in well-draining soil to prevent issues with root rot. To help create a better draining soil in your garden, you can work in some sand and some well-rotted organic compost. This not only helps to improve drainage but will also improve the nutrient content of the soil and help your tree to thrive.
Persimmon trees will adapt to any pH level of soil, but they do prefer a slightly alkaline soil of around 6 pH. If your soil is acidic you can increase the pH by adding lime to the soil.
Persimmon trees have an especially large taproot, which extends vertically downward. Because of this, they require a deeper hole when planting than most trees, so you will not be able to plant this tree in shallow ground. Dig a hole to a depth of several feet when inserting your tree into the ground and fill around it with more well-draining soil. Once planted, water the tree deeply until it is well-established.
If you are growing persimmon trees in an orchard setting, you will need to plant them around 25 feet apart to ensure they have adequate space to grow. If you are growing American persimmon trees for their fruit, then you will need at least two trees, a male and a female. This is because they require cross pollination to fruit. If you have a smaller garden. then the Asian persimmon tree will be more appropriate, as it is self-fruiting, so you will only need one tree to grow fruit.
Due to the deep nature of a persimmon tree’s root system, it is not well-suited to being grown in a container. The exception to this is the Asian persimmon tree, which only grows to around 15 feet in height (compared to the American persimmon tree’s 35 feet), and therefore works better for container planting. It does still have a taproot, which can be catered to by planting it in a deep pot (California Rare Fruit Growers).
Persimmon trees require full sun to thrive and produce plenty of luscious red fruits. They like to be in constant sun all day and will struggle in an area of poor light. When persimmon trees are young, make sure they are not shaded by fences or nearby buildings as they will exhibit stunted growth. Persimmon trees grown in poor light will also struggle to produce fruit, or they will bear fruit that is small and lacking juice.
Persimmon trees are very hardy and can be grown in climates that experience cold winters. American persimmon trees are capable of surviving the coldest temperatures, as they will tolerate temperatures as low as -25 degrees Fahrenheit. Asian persimmon trees are also cold-hardy but not to the extent of American persimmon trees. Asian persimmon trees can survive in temperatures as low as zero. If you live in a colder climate and wish to grow persimmon fruit, then the American persimmon tree will be the better option so that it doesn’t die during winter.
Persimmon trees can be grown from seed, but these will not produce exact replicas of the parent tree. Persimmon tree seeds are genetically unpredictable, so you can end up with a different variety of persimmon tree than the one you wanted. Trees grown from seeds also take longer to reach a good size than those grown from cuttings.
Persimmon trees can be propagated from stem cuttings, and these will produce exact clones of the parent tree. To propagate from stem cuttings, first. you need to deeply water the parent tree a few days before you take the cutting. This is because cuttings containing moisture are much more likely to successfully root than dry cuttings, which are more likely to struggle and die.
When taking a cutting, choose a semi-hardwood stem which is around a year old. The cutting should be around six inches long and can be taken any time of year, though during the fall would be preferable. You will then need to make a vertical cut of around one inch in length on either side of the base of the stem. This will allow more moisture to be absorbed during the rooting process, with a greater chance of success.
After this, you will need a pot of well-draining potting soil. The type of soil isn’t especially important, so long as it will hold moisture but also be well-draining. Make a hole in the center of the soil with a pencil and insert your stem cutting. You can use rooting hormone if you wish, but it isn’t essential.
Once the stem has been gently tucked in with soil, water it generously. You can then put a plastic bag over the pot to create humidity and mimic the environment of a glass house. In order to root successfully, persimmon tree cuttings require a lot of direct light, much more than is required for most plant propagation with stem cuttings. You should position it in a space where it will receive around 12 hours of light each day. If this isn’t achievable with sunlight, you can use grow lights over the pot to supplement the natural sunlight.
Rooting can take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months, but once you start to see new growth on the stem, it means a new root system has developed below the soil. At this point, you should remove the plastic bag and keep the young tree inside for a few more weeks before transplanting in its final position outside.
When your persimmon tree is young, you can prune the suckers to give the plant a good and strong tree shape. Once the tree is a few years old, you won’t need to perform any pruning other than routine removal of dead, damaged, or diseased branches. The exception to this is if your persimmon tree is not producing much or any fruit. In this case, you can cut back branches in an effort to encourage new growth from which fruit will grow.
Do you have any questions about growing persimmon trees? Let us know in the comments, and don’t forget to share this page with others who might be interested in growing a persimmon variety.