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Jujube is a tree native to China that has been cultivated for centuries. The plants were first brought to the United States in 1837 and are widely grown in sub-tropical regions and even temperate zones like the Pacific Northwest. Jujube produces a 30- to 50-foot-tall tree with wide, leathery leaves on spiny branches. The tree has very small white to green flowers that become drupes, or fruits. The fruit, ranging from cherry- to plum-sized, starts out green and ripens to red. Jujube trees can be grown from seed but they may not fruit or come "true" to the parent.
Pare the flesh off the jujube fruit until you get to the seed. Scrub it under running water to remove the remainder of the flesh. Soak the seed in a bowl of water for 24 hours to enhance germination. Jujube needs no special treatment to break dormancy.
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Mix half potting soil and half compost and fill a pot. Plant the jujube seed as deep as the seed is long or 1/4- to 1/2-inch deep. Brush soil over the seed and press it down. Water the pot and place it in a sunny location that is at least 65 to75 degrees Fahrenheit. Keep the pot evenly moist until germination. Once it has sprouted, allow the seedling to dry out between periods of water.
Grow the jujube seedling until it is 5 to 7 inches tall. Move it to an outdoor garden bed if you are in an area where temperatures rarely drop below freezing. The plant can withstand short periods of temperatures down to -28 degrees Fahrenheit but prefers warm, sunny weather.
Amend the garden soil by digging in 5 inches of compost and plant the jujube seedling at the same level it was growing in the pot. Water it in until the soil puddles up. Fertilize the tree in two months with a balanced 8-8-8 fertilizer to enhance growing. Dig into the top 3 inches of soil 1/4 cup fertilizer per inch of trunk diameter annually. Water every month once established.
Prune out the suckers and cut up the lower limbs to make the plant more manageable. Trim it in spring to manage the size and keep it out of pathways. Use heavy gloves and wear long sleeves to protect your skin from the spines.