“Fuyu” persimmon (Diospyros kaka “Fuyu”) is a Japanese persimmon variety that thrives in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 7 through 10. The tree is valued for its year-round ornamental qualities, which include the round, deep orange fruit decorating its bare branches in late fall, after the colorful fall leaves drop. The fruit is tasty and sweet.
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Persimmons are deciduous trees, and “Fuyu” is a self-fertile variety, which means you don’t need to plant two trees, a male and a female, to get fruit. It produces yellow flowers in spring, which attract its prime pollinator, honeybees. In fall, its leaves turn dramatic shades of red, gold, maroon and orange. It is a medium-size tree, growing 25 to 30 feet tall, with an open, spreading, rounded canopy.
“Fuyu” persimmon trees are free of serious pest and disease problems, so they don’t need preventive sprays the way many species of fruit trees do. Any type of soil is suitable, as long as the drainage is good. When planting, amend the soil with plenty of compost or well-rotted manure. Regular summer water is required for good fruiting. Apply a balanced fertilizer with an NPK of 4 to 6 percent nitrogen, 8 to 10 percent phosphorus and 3 to 6 percent potassium each spring. Overfertilization causes fruit drop, so an organic, slow-release product is the best choice.
“Fuyu” is a popular persimmon variety because of its firm flesh and nonastringent flavor. It is high in vitamin A and has more vitamin C than citrus. A medium-size, flattened fruit resembling a yellow tomato, “Fuyu,” like other Japanese and Chinese persimmons, produces seedless fruit that has the consistency of custard when ripe and is often eaten with a spoon. Its skin is deep orange and its flesh is light orange. It is an excellent keeper.
Several methods will help bring “Fuyu” persimmons to optimal eating quality. Often, people pick persimmons before the first frost in fall and let them ripen slowly indoors. Because “Fuyu” is a nonastringent variety, however, it will sweeten naturally if left on the tree in frost-free areas. The risk of leaving it on the tree is that many fruits will be damaged by birds. When grown in areas with hot summers, its fruits can be eaten when they are still as crisp as an apple.