by Ken Lain, the mountain gardener
Persimmons are divided into two groups: astringent, or sour fruit until they ripe, and non-astringent fruit which is far sweeter.
Plant persimmons in a sunny location. They will tolerate some shade, but for nice fruit formation, they prefer at least six hours of sun each day while fruit is forming. The tree itself is well balanced and makes a nice landscape tree.
Do your homework on Persimmons. Late mountain frost takes the fruit from most varieties of persimmon. This can be detrimental for most coastal varieties. A tree matures to adulthood between 7-10 years of age before old enough to set fruit. Ask how old a tree is if you want fruit within your lifetime.
Watters has curated the few varieties that have proven themselves in mountain landscapes. Plus, you have the added assurance the tree is old enough to produce fruit this year. We purposely hold onto our fruit trees until they’re of fruit age, this is especially important for persimmons.
How to Plant
Dig hole 2-3X times the width of the container but same depth.
Check drainage by filling a hole with water. All water should drain away within 12 hours. If not, you have hard pan and it will need to be penetrated – dig deeper & add a layer of gypsum.
Watters “Premium Mulch” – Blend 1 part mulch with two parts soil taken from the hole.
Score the root ball sides and bottom with a utility knife or pruners.
Blend Soil – Mulch & All Purpose Plant Food & Aqua Boost mixture then pack firmly around the root ball.
Stakes & V-Strap – install stakes just outside the roots making sure the stakes are deeper than soil mix. Use V-Straps around tree trunks to support trees from the wind. Use one strap just under the tree canopy and a second 18″ below the first. If necessary, use a small nail or screw on lodge pole to stop the wire from slipping.
Build a well around the tree and water with “Root & Grow” mixture. Water with Root & Grow every 2 weeks for the first 2 months.
Use remaining Watters Mulch inside the tree well as a top dressing. This will keep weeds down, insulate roots from heat and cold, and keep the roots moist.
Pruning Care – Persimmons require little or no pruning. Only prune to: Remove damaged, diseased or dead branches, shaping of the tree and controlling the height.
The Harvest – Harvest astringent, or sour fruit until they ripe, when they’re fully colored in the fall, but still hard. Astringent persimmons easily ripen at room temperature.
Non-astringent persimmons are ready to harvest when they’re fully colored. For best flavor, allow them to finish ripening inside at room temperature and slightly soft.
Both kinds are best picked by cutting from the tree with pruning shears, leaving the calyx, or fruit stem intact. Cut the stem as close to the fruit as possible. Handle fruit carefully since they bruise easily.
Until next issue, I’ll see among the many fruit trees here at Watters Garden Center.