Growth Habit: Persimmons are attractive, grand trees that can grow up to 6 meters high and just as wide. Being deciduous, they lose their leaves in winter.
Foliage/Flowers: The dark green leaves are long and wide, and grow alternately along the stems. Flowers are small and cream, and emerge from one year old growth.
Fruit: Persimmon fruits are large and typically round, similar to a large tomato, and change from green to bright orange as they ripen. Persimmon trees are grouped into two different types based on their fruits. ‘Astringent’ persimmons produce fruit which cannot be eaten until they are fully ripe, bright orange and very soft. Non-astringent persimmon can be eaten before they are fully ripe and are crisp like an apple, or when they are soft and fully ripe. The benefits of astringent fruits are that birds tend to leave them alone until ripe, fruit fly can be less problematic and their flavour is excellent.
Adaptation : Persimmon grow well in subtropical and temperate climates. Full sun is preferred, although they will withstand some partial shade. Plant them in a sheltered spot away from the wind as the branches can be brittle and damaged in high winds.
Soils : Persimmons do well in a wide range of soil conditions, but do best in deep, well drained loamy soils. A pH range of 6 to 7 is preferred. Fertilise lightly in winter with compost when mature.
Irrigation : Crops will be larger and of higher quality if regular watering is provided. Persimmons will withstand short periods of drought, but prolonged dry conditions will cause the leaves and fruit to drop.
Pruning : Cut young trees back to 1/2m high at the time of planting and prune to develop a strong framework of main branches. Once established, in winter cut back half the fruiting branches to 70cm from main stem.
Propagation : Propagation is by grafting only as trees do not reproduce true to type from seed.s.
Pests and diseases : Persimmons are relatively problem-free, although they can be prone to Phytophthora root-rot, so it’s recommended to plant them in free-draining soil. Fruit fly can target fruit, as will birds when the fruits start to ripen.
Harvest: Harvest is best done when fruits have turned orange, or are at least starting to change colour, but are still hard. They will soften on the tree and improve in quality, but you will probably lose many fruit to the birds as they soften. Persimmons will ripen off the tree if stored at room temperature. Fruit are eaten fresh, or can be dried or used in cakes and desserts. Harvest from March to May.
Recommended Varieties: Hachiya, Nightingale, Fuyu