With the holidays upon us, there’s probably no other tree that typifies the season more than the Bright orange fruits peak out between the leafy branches now but soon they’ll hang alone like Christmas ornaments.
Persimmons are one of the best fruit trees for ornamental use. Their handsome branches spread wide to 30 feet and they can grow almost as tall making them a beautiful shade tree in the garden. Striking, dark green leaves turn stunning shades of yellow, orange or red in fall even in the mildest of climates. After the leaves drop and especially after we’ve had frost the fruit colors brilliant orange-scarlet and brightens the tree for several months, unless harvested.
Persimmons are easy to grow, too. They are one of the few fruit trees that are deer resistant ( the foliage anyway ).
They accept almost any soil, acidic or alkaline, as long as it is well drained. Reaching bearing age at 5 you can expect your tree to live 50 to 75 years. That’s a lot of persimmons for eating fresh,or for baking into cookies, bread and pudding. Or you can try your hand at persimmon wine or beer as the early settlers did or dry the fruit. They are loaded with vitamin A and C.
Fruit drop is one of the only problems you may encounter when your tree is young. Persimmons have a natural tendency to drop their fruit prematurely. Large quantities may drop if the tree is under stress from over or under watering or given too much nitrogen fertilizer.
How much water and food does a persimmon need? Apply enough water to wet the soil 3-4 feet deep when the soil 6" below the surface is just barely moist. Fertilize once in late winter with organic fruit tree food. Persimmons do not respond or need fertilizers other than nitrogen. They are not troubled by excesses or deficiencies of other elements. Persimmons are remarkable free from disease and pests.
The most common types of persimmons grown are the Japanese varieties, Hachiya and Fuyu. Hachiya is the most popular commonly available in markets. Fruit is astringent until soft when it becomes very sweet and pudding-like. They make be picked when firm-ripe to protect them from the birds and allowed to ripen off the tree. They keep a month or more in the refrigerator.
The smaller Fuyu persimmon is a non-astringent variety. These are picked hard and have a mildly sweet flavor. When they soften off the tree they become sweeter and can be kept for several months in the refrigerator. You can also freeze whole persimmons or pulp.
Be sure to harvest either type using a pruning shears. Cut 1/2 to 1 inch above the fruit so the greenish crown remains intact. Don’t try to remove fruit without also taking the calyx cap and a short bit of fruit stem or they can rot. Whether you plant your own tree or buy the fruit at the market, take advantage of persimmon season and the beauty they bring.
Persimmon are among the best fruit trees to grow for the gardener who has little time to spare.