Persimmon trees can survive and bear fruit even in our temperate latitudes. We will show you how to properly plant and care for your persimmon tree.
Persimmons can also be grown in our climate [Photo: Mykhaylo Sahan / Shutterstock.com]
The kaki ( Diospyros kaki) brings variety and a touch of exoticism to your garden. It is true that persimmon trees are traditionally cultivated in tropical and subtropical regions; but if you pay attention to some tips on cultivation and care, you will soon be able to harvest your own persimmons. In our article we will tell you everything about the origin, recommended varieties, planting and caring for persimmon trees and give you tips on harvesting the delicious persimmons.
Persimmon tree: origin & characteristics
The persimmon tree belongs to the genus of ebony trees ( Diospyros ) and thus to the ebony family (Ebenaceae). The generic name Diospyros means something like the divine fruit or jelly. Further names for the persimmon are date plum, Chinese plum, god plum, honey apple or persimmon apple. The persimmon is not remotely related to the plum ( Prunus domestica).
In China, persimmons have been grown for over 2000 years, making them one of the oldest cultivated plants in the world. Because persimmons have a very soft flesh and are therefore only partially transportable, the first persimmon trees were only planted in southern Europe in the 18th century. Today the main growing regions for persimmons are still in China but also in Spain, Italy and Israel.
Under ideal conditions, the persimmon tree can grow up to ten meters high. From a distance it is reminiscent of an apple tree. The bark is brown and coarsely scaly. The alternate leaves are larger and coarser than apple tree leaves and have a smooth, shiny surface. They are usually egg-shaped, rarely heart-shaped. In autumn they turn beautifully orange to red. The tree begins to bloom from late spring to early summer. There are both single and dioecious persimmon trees. The female flowers usually appear singly and are four-fold and yellow. The male flowers are smaller and usually found in groups of four to five.
Persimmon fruits are also called divine plums [Photo: anitasstudio / Shutterstock.com]
The female flowers develop into five to eight centimeters large, spherical berries that are reminiscent of tomatoes in shape. The fruits have a smooth, shiny skin and turn bright orange when ripe. The soft pulp can contain up to eight seeds. Still immature, persimmons contain a lot of tannin and are therefore strongly astringent. This means that everything contracts in the mouth when consumed and the fruit tastes very tart. As the degree of ripeness increases, the flesh becomes softer and the skin almost transparent. Then the taste of the fruit is reminiscent of a mixture of pear ( Pyrus ) and apricot ( Prunus armeniaca ), and it is wonderfully sweet.
Buying a persimmon tree: pay attention to this
When buying, you should consider a few points so that you can enjoy your tree for as long as possible. First of all, the choice of variety is very important, because it not only determines the nature of the fruit that you will later harvest, but also the location requirements of the tree. For cultivation outdoors, frost-tolerant varieties are necessary, while container plants can also move into the warm in winter. Another important point is the age and size of the tree. The bigger the tree, the more expensive it is of course. But larger trees can be transplanted outdoors faster, and they will also bear fruit earlier.
Here are some things to look out for when buying a persimmon tree:
- Variety choice
- Age and size of the tree
- Vital growth
- Good health
- No putrid roots
You can buy persimmon trees at nurseries and garden centers. Or you can look around the Internet for a suitable tree for yourself. You will find a large selection of persimmon varieties at Pflanzenspezl or the Schreiber nursery.
Popular and good-tasting persimmons
Not all persimmons are the same, because after their arrival in Europe, persimmons continued to be cultivated. Today one differentiates between persimmon, persimmon and sharon. Persimmons are the original fruits that first have to ripen completely so that the fruit becomes soft and edible. Persimmons come from Spain and have the advantage that they are no longer astringent and therefore taste good even when they are hard. The same goes for the Sharon fruits from Israel.
You can read more about the distinction between kaki, sharon and persimmon here.
There are around 500 different types of persimmon worldwide, most of which can be found in Asia. But here too, persimmons can thrive if varieties with frost tolerance are selected. We present some promising persimmon varieties for cultivation in a temperate climate here.
Recommended varieties of persimmons for temperate climates:
- ˈAromaˈ: This variety makes soft, orange fruits that taste sweet and juicy.
- ˈCioccolatinoˈ: This variety produces large, yellow fruits with a great aroma.
- ˈEarly Fuyuˈ: Early ripening variety that is ideal for temperate climates. The fruits are sweet and have firm flesh.
The Japanese variety ˈEarly Fuyuˈ bears sweet, orange fruits [Photo: SakSa / Shutterstock.com]
- ˈJiroˈ: The fruits of this variety are very large and the skin is yellowish. When ripe, the persimmons are firm and not astringent.
- ˈKuro Gakiˈ: This variety is very special because it bears small, pointed fruits with a blue skin. The flesh is orange and sweet.
- ˈMeaderˈ: The fruits of this American variety are small and flat.
- ˈNikitas Giftˈ: This persimmon variety is perfectly adapted to our climate. It also impresses with its particularly sweet, intense taste.
- ˈPrairie Dawnˈ: This variety is a new breed and is characterized by its hardy and particularly sweet fruits. However, these are small.
- ˈRojo Brillanteˈ: This classic persimmon variety from Spain can also be grown here. The fruits impress with their sweet taste.
- ˈRosseyankaˈ: This new breed from Russia produces large, sweet fruits that have almost no seeds.
- ˈTipoˈ: This variety is very popular, especially in Italy. The fruits are particularly large and soft.
- ˈVainigliaˈ: This new breed is characterized by its vanilla scent.
Planting a persimmon tree: Instructions in 4 steps
Planting the persimmon tree is usually very simple. If you follow the 4 steps we have described, nothing should go wrong.
1. Choose the right time to plant the persimmon tree
In the first three to four years, the persimmon tree cannot survive the winter outside. Therefore, it is cultivated in a pot until it is old enough. If the tree is old and big enough, it can be planted in the garden in spring. Then it has time for the entire growing season to establish itself. There should also be no more frost when you plant it.
2. Find a suitable location for the persimmon tree
The persimmon tree is a warmth-loving plant and would therefore like to be planted in as sunny and bright a location as possible. For example, house walls on the south side are ideal. It is also important that the location is as sheltered from the wind as possible. The persimmon tree does not place particularly high demands on the soil. It should be as loose and permeable as possible. Sandy-loamy soils with a high content of humus and nutrients are ideal. The tree feels most comfortable at a neutral pH.
Persimmon trees are most comfortable in full sun [Photo: Princess_Anmitsu / Shutterstock.com]
At a glance: where should you plant a persimmon tree?
- Particularly sunny
- Sheltered from the wind
- Loose, well-drained soil
- Rich in humus and nutrients
- pH-neutral soil
- Planting distance to other trees: 4 meters
3. Dig a sufficiently large hole for the persimmon tree
The planting hole for your persimmon should have twice the diameter and twice the depth of the plant container. In there the tree should only be set as deep as it was in the container. To give the tree the best possible start, loosen the soil well before planting and remove all stones. Now enrich the soil with organic material such as compost or a fertilizer with long-term organic effects. Our Plantura organic tomato fertilizer is ideally suited for a basic fertilization of your persimmon tree.
4. Fill the hole with soil and water the persimmon tree well
Once the tree has been planted in its planting hole, fill the hole with the excavated material and water the tree abundantly.
Step-by-step instructions: Plant the persimmon tree
- Loosen the soil
- Enrich the soil with compost or a fertilizer with long-term organic effects
- Dig the planting hole
- The planting hole should be twice as large and deep as the planting container
- Put the tree only as deep into the hole as it was in the container
- Fill the hole with soil
- Water well
You will learn how to properly care for your persimmon tree after planting it later in this article.
The planting hole for the persimmon tree must be large enough [Photo: Sviatlana Yankouskaya / Shutterstock.com]
Propagate the persimmon tree: grow it yourself from seeds
If you want to propagate your persimmon tree yourself, you can do so by seeds. However, fruits bought from the supermarket are not suitable for propagation. If you do not yet have a persimmon tree and would like to grow one from seeds, you should order seeds from specialist shops. Seeds from self-harvested fruits must first be stratified before sowing, i.e. the inhibition of germination must be lifted. To do this, the cleaned seeds are placed in a bag with moist sand in the refrigerator for three months.
After that, the seeds are ready to be planted. Prepare a container with potting soil for this. The seeds are now placed on the substrate and only lightly covered with soil and moistened. To create a good climate for germination, pull a plastic sheet over the planter or place it in a mini greenhouse you made yourself. In a bright and warm place, at 20 to 22 degrees, the seeds should germinate within two to four weeks. To do this, of course, they have to be moistened regularly. A spray bottle is best suited for this. After the first leaves have formed on the seedlings, these can then be separated and transplanted into larger pots. It can take four to five years for self-grown persimmon trees to bear fruit for the first time.
Summary: How can you propagate a persimmon tree?
- Buy seeds from specialist retailers or take them from your own tree
- Stratify your own seeds
- Fill the planter with potting soil
- Place seeds on the substrate and cover lightly with soil
- Pull plastic wrap over the jar or place it in a mini greenhouse
- Let germinate lightly and at 20 – 22 ° C
- Moisten regularly
- Germination time: 4 weeks
- After the first leaves have formed, repot
You can grow a kaki tree from seeds yourself [Photo: mahirart / Shutterstock.com]
Maintaining the persimmon tree
In order for your persimmon tree to grow and thrive, you should take proper care of it. We'll tell you everything about watering, fertilizing, cutting and wintering your persimmons.
Water and fertilize the persimmon tree
The water requirements of the persimmon are not very high. In the pot, of course, the plant is dependent on regular watering. However, you should definitely avoid waterlogging. Outside in the garden, your tree should only be watered during really dry periods, because too much water can impair fruiting. You should also be careful with the fertilizer application, because over-fertilization can have a negative effect on frost tolerance. In the first month after planting, you should not fertilize at all. Then you can fertilize from May to the end of July. It is important to fertilize with a high concentration of potassium for fruit formation. Our Plantura organic tomato fertilizer with organic long-term effects holds all the important nutrients for your persimmon tree and releases them gently and slowly to the tree. So your persimmon is optimally supplied with fertilizer.
At a glance: How is the persimmon tree properly watered and fertilized?
- Water the pot regularly, but avoid waterlogging
- Only water once a month when wintering in the pot
- Water in the garden only in dry periods
- No fertilization in the first month after planting
- Fertilize with potassium emphasis from May to the end of July
Pruning the persimmon tree: timing and procedure
Persimmon trees do not need regular pruning. Take your secateurs from time to time, but don't be offended, because persimmon trees are very easy on pruning. The best time to cut is in winter, from late February to early March. Young trees can be steered into the right path to grow with a shape cut. A popular growth form, for example, is a central shoot with three to four strong side shoots. In order not to let the tree grow too high, you can also cut long annual shoots by half.
The flowers of the persimmon tree are yellow [Photo: svetlanaspain / Shutterstock.com]
Cutting the persimmon tree at a glance:
- Persimmons are very easy to cut
- Cut in late February – early March
- Parenting pruning on young trees
- Occasionally shorten long annual shoots by half
Hibernate the persimmon tree
Young persimmon trees have to be overwintered indoors, the same applies to container plants. The winter quarters should ideally be dark and not warmer than five degrees. In winter the tree then sheds its leaves and hardly needs any more attention. If no more frost is expected in spring, the tree can move outside again. You should protect persimmon trees outside in the garden from frost with a thick layer of mulch in the root area. Leaves or bark mulch, which is also covered with brushwood, are suitable for this. Trees that are still young can also be protected around the shoots with fleece or jute sacks. The frost protection is then removed again in spring.
At a glance: Hibernate the persimmon tree properly
- In the bucket, dark, at max. 5 ° C
- Pour little, do not fertilize
- Mulch thickly in the open root area
- Protect shoots with fleece or jute
Harvest and store persimmons
In autumn the time of harvest has finally come and you can enjoy the delicious, sweet fruits.
When are persimmons ripe?
From October, persimmons are ready for harvest. By then the tree has usually already thrown off its leaves. However, let the fruit ripen on the tree for as long as possible. You should harvest them at the latest when the first frost is expected. It depends on the variety whether the persimmons are soft or hard when they are fully ripe. Persimmons have to be very soft so that they no longer taste bitter and astringent. Sharon and persimmons can be eaten with hard pulp.
Usually the persimmons are only ripe when the persimmon tree has already lost its leaves [Photo: nnattalli / Shutterstock.com]
How can you store persimmons?
You can store persimmons for up to two weeks in a cool place like the refrigerator or basement. If the fruits are not yet fully ripe on the tree, they can also ripen. This can be done together with other fruit such as apples or pears in a plastic bag at 15 ° C. The fruits should ripen within two weeks. Or you can put the fruit in the freezer for 24 hours.
The persimmon tree is just one of many exotic fruit trees. In our special article we introduce you to another 10 unknown types of fruit.