The City Magazine Since 1975

In for a Treat

In for a Treat
November 2016
For sweet, cool-weather fruit, plant persimmon trees

How would you like to have your own persimmon harvest from late fall to early winter, using the sweet orange globes in everything from salads to cookies, or simply watching wildlife flock to the cool-season snack? Get planting this month, and you’ll soon reap the rewards.

The beauty of persimmon trees is that they offer interest during all four seasons. In spring, flush new growth awakens from dormancy, followed by delicate flowers that, once pollinated, form fruit throughout summer. Fall is show time, when orange and red foliage brightens the landscape. And finally, the leaves begin dropping to reveal vibrant fruits hanging from branches that create a striking silhouette.

It is important to note that there are two different kinds of persimmon trees: American (Diospyros virginiana) and Oriental (Diospyros kaki). Virginiana can reach 40 feet tall, and because it’s rarely self-pollinating, you’ll need at least two to get fruit. The persimmons themselves are astringent, containing tannins that make them incredibly bitter until they’ve fully ripened. Birds such as wild turkeys, warblers, robins, and woodpeckers love ’em.

Most varieties of Oriental persimmon trees are smaller—just 15 to 20 feet at maturity—than their American cousins. However, their fruit is generally larger and, depending on the cultivar, can be astringent or non-astringent (you can bite into these while they’re still plump and firm). The non-astringent ‘Fuyu’ is a popular choice.

All persimmon trees require full sun and nutrient-rich, well-draining soil with a pH of 6.5 to 7.5. They benefit from pruning and can even make a beautiful espalier. Decide which variety is right for your landscape and dig in!

Tip: Before you do any digging this fall, call 811 or visit to submit a request to have your home’s utility lines located. Within three business days, technicians will come to mark the lines at no cost to you.

Ask An Expert: Can I use the needles falling from my pine tree to mulch my garden beds?

Absolutely! Applying a two- to three-inch layer of pine needles will increase moisture retention, reduce weed growth, and acidify your soil as the organic material breaks down. They make a great winter insulator, helping to protect plants from frost, and are especially ideal for sloped areas, as they naturally interlock, becoming harder to wash away. Do know that they create a more slippery surface than pine bark, so traverse with care. —Joan McDonald, garden editor