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Department of Horticulture

Persimmons
Diospyros virginiana

Minor Fruit Index

Persimmons
Persimmons

Persimmons

Persimmons

Persimmons

 

This attractive tree can grow up to 30 feet tall. Persimmons are more common in the South, but are hardy in Zones 4 to 9. They require full sun and well-drained soil for optimum growth.

Trees have a pendulous branching habit and a narrow, somewhat rounded shape. The leaves are shiny and dark green and the flowers are greenish-yellow. Most trees are either male or female, so plant several trees to ensure pollination.

Persimmon fruits range from to 2 inches in diameter. They are pale yellow to deep orange with reddish cheeks. Unripe, the fruits are extremely astringent. When fully ripe, they are soft, nearly free of astringency, and have a mild flavor.

The fruits are also highly ornamental and remain on the tree for a long time after leaf fall. Frost is not necessary to ripen fruit and will ruin immature fruit. In colder regions, the season is not long enough to ripen many of the late cultivars, so choose only early-ripening ones.

Persimmon trees also have bark with interesting texture and attractive fall foliage, making it a good accent plant in landscaping. They're also well-suited to espalier training.

Growing persimmons
In addition to full sun and well-drained soil, persimmons require adequate fertility, but not extremely rich soil. Some gardeners have found that excessive nitrogen can cause fruit drop. Trees are drought-resistant, but benefit from deep watering during extremely dry weather.

Begin training trees early to four to five main stems to produce an attractive structure. They should require little maintenance beyond that, and plants are typically not very prone to pests and diseases.

American types are hardier and better adapted to cold climates than Asian types. But they still benefit from planting in somewhat protected locations, and perform best in milder parts of New York state.

Cultivars

  • 'Garretson' is a superior cultivar for northern areas. Blooms heavy and fruit ripen in early October. Fruit is light orange with a reddish blush, 1.5 inches in diameter, and has tender skin and soft flesh.
  • 'John Rick' produces larger more attractive fruit than 'Garretson'.
  • 'Early Golden' is not as productive as some of the other cultivars, but fruit is of good quality.
  • 'Hicks' and 'Juhl' preform well, but are not as good as 'Garretson."

See also: California Rare Fruit Growers.



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