Colorful Persimmon Trees

    • Primroses and pansies will add instant color to pots and flower beds. Combine them with bulbs for an extended season of bloom.
    • Spray citrus and other tender plants with Cloud Cover to give them some protection from frosts.
    • Japanese maples are some of the most colorful trees in the fall. Plant them now and give them a head start on spring.
    • Fragrant hyacinths make a colorful display in a garden bed, or can be grown in pots. They come in red, pink, blue, white and soft pastels. Plant them now for spring flowers.
    • Compost falling leaves to make excellent garden mulch by next season.

Colorful Persimmon Trees

Oriental persimmons are the perfect trees for fruit enthusiasts who have little time for orcharding. They form a perfect umbrella shape without any pruning, are adaptable to a wide range of soils, and they are virtually pest and disease free.

Persimmons are a favorite fruit throughout Asia where they are native. The botanical name, Diospyros, means “fruit of the Gods”. They are prized not only for their fruit but also for their attractiveness as a medium-size ornamental tree.

Because they bloom so late, the blossoms are rarely bothered by late frosts. Fall frosts deepen the color of the fruit. In October or early November they yield a crop of bright red-orange fruit which, if not picked, stay on the tree after the leaves fall. Persimmons put on a brilliant display of autumn color with reddish-yellow leaves and orange fruit.

Although regular watering increases yields, persimmon trees are drought-tolerant and thrive in most well-drained soils. They must have good drainage around the crown of the roots. Trees reach 30 feet tall with broad leaves shading an area 25 feet in diameter.

There are two basic types of persimmons: the astringent varieties, which are real “pucker-producers” and must be allowed to soften before their astringency changes to a rich, sweet flavor; and the non-astringent types that are sweet and firm when ripe. In cool summer areas, where limited heat is available for ripening fruit, non-astringent types are recommended. They are well adapted in most areas around Willits.

Persimmon trees are a little more expensive than the average fruit tree because the propagation is expensive. Fruit trees are propagated by budding, a form of grafting that uses a growth bud rather than a twig to attach the named variety to the rootstock. Not only are persimmons hard to bud, but the buds don’t always take, and sometimes less than 60 percent of the trees survive being dug-up out of the nursery rows where they are grown.

The best known persimmon is the ‘Hachiya’. It is large and acorn-shaped with deep orange skin. Astringent until ripe, the soft red flesh is exceptionally rich and filling. It makes delicious breads, cookies and cobblers. It can be picked while still hard, by cutting the stems with shears, and allowed to ripen indoors.

‘Chocolate’ persimmon has sweet, spicy, firm, brown flesh with superb flavor. It is self-fruitful but astringent until ripe.

There are several non-astringent persimmons available. ‘Fuyu’ persimmon is the most popular. The shiny red, smooth, tomato-shaped fruit is light orange with firm flesh and a delicate, sweet flavor. The fruit can be peeled and eaten like an apple. It is good for baking but best when eaten fresh.

‘Coffee Cake’, pollinated by ‘Fuyu’, and ripening a month earlier, has a unique spicy-sweet flavor that instantly brings to mind hot coffee and cinnamon pastries. Plant the pair for the perfect persimmon experience.

‘Izu’ has large, round fruit that is very sweet, tasty, and non-astringent. It makes a relatively small tree, a good choice for the backyard.

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