How to Grow Persimmon Fruit trees (Diospyros kaki) in Your Garden

Diospyros kaki, is also known as the Persimmon. It has been long cultivated by indigenous tribes to provide fruit in the winter.

There are two types of fruits: Astringent (acidic) and Non-astringent.

The astringent looks like a pepper in shape and has a very sour taste. It is used as an ingredient in cooking and is usually dried first before use.

The non-astringent type is usually eaten from the tree when ripe, and it looks like a tomato.

Persimmon fruits
Non-astringent Persimmon fruits image by Forest and Kim Starr; CC

There are two main types of Diospyros kaki plant, these being the chocolate and Fuyu.

The chocolate variety gets its name from its brown flesh that is covered in an orange skin. They are small or medium-sized and are oblong.

This variety grows and blossoms with vigor producing fruit that usually ripens during late October or early November.

They are sweetest when ripe and soft.

The second variety is the Fuyu, which is the most commonly grown persimmon.

The tree is self-pollinating and pest free, an aspect that makes it very popular for gardeners. It produces large and sweet fruits that ripen in November.

The fruit has an orange skin and an even deeper orange flesh, while the texture is similar to that of an apple.

This fruit is often eaten fresh from the tree or can be incorporated into salads.

Gardener’s HQ Guide to Growing Diospyros kaki

For propagation, you may prefer growing this plant from cuttings rather than using seeds.

This is because seeds generally take a longer time to grow and often do not stay true to the mother plant type.

When using cuttings, you can be assured of the exact genetical replica of the plant you sourced the cutting from. They also take a much shorter time to grow.

When planting Diospyros kaki, select soil that has good drainage so as to avoid waterlogging and root rot.

Diospyros kaki Trees
Diospyros kaki; Picture by Forest and Kim Starr; CC

To increase the drainage in your soil, consider incorporating some sand or decomposed compost manure. The latter will also enrich your soil.

While the trees adapt to most soil acidities, it is recommended that you consider soils with an alkaline level of pH 6.0 for best results.

Their long taproots require a rather deep hole when planting, and it is recommended that you plan them about 25 feet (7.5 m) apart.

If you plan to grow the tree for fruit, then you will need both the male and female for cross-pollination.

However, the Asian type is self-pollinating, so you can consider it if you need to save space.

American Persimmon trees can grow pretty much anywhere, even areas with the harshest of winters.

Asian types however, can only thrive in zones 7 to 10, making them inconvenient for areas that get colder than 0°F (−17.8 °C).

They will require an area with a lot of sunlight to produce good fruit and will generally struggle in poorly lit places.

Quick Growing and Care Guide

Scientific Name: Diospyros kaki

Common Name (s): Persimmon, Oriental persimmon, Kaki, Chinese date plum.

Growing Zone (USA / UK Hardiness): Asian Variety USDA Zones 7 to 10 / Europe / H4 – Should grow well throughout the UK. Cold tolerant varieties can be grown to zone 4.

Best used for: Often grown for its fruit (Persimmon, also known as Gam). Ornamental landscape Tree that is often grown to create shade. Can also do well as a border plant. Provides winter interest to the garden. Can be used as an hedging and screening plant.

Plant Details

Life Cycle / Plant Type: Deciduous tree.

Plant Height: 20 to 30 feet (6 to 9 m).

Plant Spread: 13 to 26 feet (4 to 8 m).

Blooms: Late spring and early summer.

Flower Details: Male flowers are pink. Female flowers are creamy white. Tubular. Fragrant.

Leaf Foliage: Glossy, dark green, 4 inches (10 cm) in length.

Fruit: Edible, Fleshy, Sweet, Tangy, fibrous. Bell-shaped. Becomes bright orange when ripe (late autumn).

Diospyros kaki Branch laden with Persimmon Fruit
Persimmon Fruit hanging from branches, image by Objectif Nantes; CC.

Growing Conditions and Location

Best Light Conditions: Full sunlight.

Suitable Soil Types: Deep soil, Good drainage, Fertile.

Suitable Soil pH: All. Slightly acidic for best results.

Soil Moisture: Medium.

Sowing, planting, and Propagation: Use fresh seed from ripe fruits. As these may not stay true it may be best to grow from cuttings or put out purchased plants in autumn.

Usually grown from grafts of root stocks. Provide saplings with plenty of water.

Care: Relatively pest and disease free. Lightly prune in late winter or at the start of spring to remove any broken, decayed, or crossed shoots.

Provide with a mulch and feed following pruning.

Growing in pots and containers: Yes, but quite hard work. Plants will require lifting and locating to a new location once a month to prevent roots growing into the ground.

Locate in sheltered spot and provide a mulch to help plant survive winter. Can get very big, so consider growing a smaller variety in pots.

Usually takes at least six years to bear fruit.

Cultivars: Hundreds of Cultivars available. These have large variations in fruit size and shape.

Fuya. Varieties: Four main varieties: PCA; PVA; PVNA; PCNA. Where ‘A’ represents astringent and ‘NA’ non-astringent. ‘PC’ pollination constant and ‘PV’ non-astringent.

Further Information

Miscellaneous

  • Native of East Asia, Myanmar, and India.
  • Makes a great low maintenance plant.
  • Similar shape to an Apple tree.
  • Will take at least three years, usually twice as long, before trees bear flowers.
  • Susceptible to fruit drop.
  • Syn. Diospyros chinensis.
  • Considered to be the fourth most important fruit tree crop in Japan.
  • Often allowed to dry before consumption.
  • Leaves can be used to make tea.

Further Reading and References: Classification of Persimmon cultivars.

Family: Ebenaceae (Ebony).

Closely Related Species: Diospyros australis (Yellow Persimmon), Diospyros crassiflora (African Ebony).

Common Questions

What is Persimmon? It commonly refers to the fruit that is produced by the East Asian tree species Diospyros kaki.

How tall are Diospyros kaki? Plants typically reach about 30 feet in height (9 m). Taller varieties may reach about 50 feet (15 m).

When do they bloom: In May and June in the Northern Hemisphere.

How do you Care for them? Persimmon trees require little care, water them well when young and in prolonged dry periods. Give them a late prune before the start of the growing season.

How do you Propagate and Grow from Seed? May not stay true, so usually grown from a rootstock.

When to Plant Diospyros kaki? Autumn.

What is kaki fruit called in English? Persimmon.

Fruit Bowl containing persimmons and other Fruits.
Fruit bowl containing some persimmons; picture by Forest and Kim Starr; CC

Are persimmons good for you? Yes, they are rich in nutrients such as vitamin A, B6, C, E, and K. They also provide a great source of magnesium and dietary fiber.

I hope that you enjoyed this guide on how to grow Diospyros kaki. You may also enjoy the following Ericales order growing guides: How to grow Kiwi Fruit, Phlox, and Primrose plants.