Persimmon trees are often grown as ornamentals; their glossy leaves and uniquely textured bark providing an attractive and interesting accent in any landscape. These beautiful trees, of course, also produce a delicious fruit that has been a popular addition to the home garden for many years. While many of the newer varieties of persimmon trees are generally grafted, old fashioned varieties can be grown from seed quite nicely to produce the fruit that has long been used in traditional persimmons recipes. Since both a male and female tree are needed for pollination, planting more than one will be necessary if fruit production is your goal.
Planting persimmon trees from seed takes a bit of time and patience. Seeds can be collected in the fall from an established tree, harvested from the fruit once it ripens, or purchased from garden centres or seed catalogues. Germination of persimmon tree seeds requires a period of consistent cold temperature to bring them out of dormancy, which can be accomplished by using a technique called cold stratification. This is done by simply wrapping the seeds in moist paper towels and refrigerating them in a plastic bag or container for three to four months.
Starting your persimmons seeds indoors can be done in late winter or early spring. Be sure to use a deep container for these seeds, as persimmon seedlings develop a very long taproot. The taproot develops long before any growth shows above the soil line and, if your pot isn't deep enough, will push the seed right out of the soil. Place your seeds about two inches below the soil surface, using a well drained potting mixture. Persimmon seeds can take as much as six to eight weeks to germinate, and should be kept moist and warm, between 21.1 and 29.4 degrees C, throughout the process.
Seedlings should be planted outdoors at the end of their first season of growth, as later transplantation can be damaging to the taproot, which can cause the young tree to wither away. Persimmon trees will grow best in a sunny location that is sheltered from heavy winds, and in soil that provides efficient drainage. Be sure to dig planting holes deep enough to accommodate the taproots comfortably, and tamp soil in around the roots gently, removing any air pockets. Water the seedlings after planting, then keep them moist, but not waterlogged throughout the active growth period.
Staking or caging your seedlings is recommended, providing support until their roots have grown enough to give your little trees a firm foothold in the garden. Keep the area around your young persimmon trees clear of weeds, eliminating competition for the nutrients needed to get them off to a healthy start. And, have patience, your persimmon trees will need several years of nurturing before they begin to produce their wonderful fruit.