How to Grow: Persimmon

Learn about growing persimmon trees including information on varieties for the North.

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persimmonOn a recent trip to California I found a mango variety that’s hardy to zone 4! I couldn’t believe it. Oh, and what day is today? April fools!

Although we still can’t grow mangoes in Vermont, we can grow other exotic fruits, such as persimmon. A fully ripe, soft persimmon rivals a good mango for flavor. Varieties fall into astringent and non astringent, Asian and American categories. Most persimmons you find in the grocery store are astringent, Asian types that are eaten when soft. Non-astringent Asian types are eaten while still crunchy like apples. While both Asian types won’t grow in our climate, the astringent American types do. Varieties such as ‘Meader’, ‘Yates, and ‘Early Golden’ are hardy to zone 4 or 5. There’s even a cross between Asian and American named ‘Rosseyanka’, that has the large size of the Asian fruits, and hardiness of the Americans. All these trees grow 15 to 25 feet tall and wide and are self fertile.

What I love about our persimmon tree is its shape, beautiful fall foliage color on avocado-like leaves and the fact that persimmon fruits hold on the tree after the leaves drop. If harvested too early, the tannins that cause the astringency make the fruits only worth while for puckering. Harvest astringent fruits once fully colored and bring them indoors to complete the ripening. Wait until they’re mushy soft, almost pudding-like, before eating, for the best flavor.

Plant your persimmon trees in full sun on well drained soil in a protected spot in your yard. Once established, they need little extra care.

From the Vermont Garden Journal.

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