Suruga Japanese Persimmon TreeDiospyros kaki ‘Suruga'
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Diospyros kaki ‘Suruga'
Outdoor Growing zone
Full Sun, Partial Sun
The Suruga Japanese Persimmon Tree is a small tree with attractive dark-green leaves that turn lovely shades of gold, orange, red and purple in fall. The bright-orange fruit ripens after the leaves have fallen, looking beautiful on the bare branches, and tasting delicious. This is the sweetest of all the non-astringent varieties, that can be eaten straight from the tree, without needing long indoor ripening. It is self-pollinating and this variety is a good choice for container-growing anywhere in the country.
Plant your Suruga Japanese Persimmon Tree in full sun – it will grow best and ripen a big crop. The soil should be well-drained, but otherwise it will grow easily in most soils, except for very alkaline ones. Once established it is drought tolerant, and a very easy tree to grow and succeed with. It is normally free of pests or diseases and needs no fancy care to grow well and carry a big crop.
If you like ‘sweet and juicy’, you will love the Suruga Japanese Persimmon. If you don’t know Asian persimmons, or haven’t tried growing one yet – they’re easy – then this is the tree to start with. It is recognized as the sweetest of the sweet, and it’s certainly the most delicious of the non-astringent varieties. These are plants with fruit that don’t need to be ripened until very soft before it can be eaten. You may only know the older types, which must be picked and left for many days to become very, very soft before eating them. That type is great for baking or preserves, but if you want a firmer texture, but still moist and delicious, then a non-astringent variety like the Suruga Persimmon is for you. These trees are incredibly easy to grow: needing no fancy pruning techniques; no spraying, since they are pest-free; and carrying a full crop without needing a second variety for pollination. You can pick the fruit straight from this tree and eat it – the texture is like a plum, and the flesh is incredibly sweet and simply delicious. It’s only hardy to zone 7, but if you have some room indoors you can also grow this tree in colder zones in a pot, and bring it inside for the winter months, where it will ripen the fruit. Wow!
The Suruga Japanese Persimmon is a deciduous tree that grows just 12 to 15 feet tall, and perhaps 8 feet wide. It is an attractive tree with an upright trunk of smooth gray and large, oval leaves. These are up to 6 inches long, with a glossy, dark-green upper surface and, unlike some other forms, a smooth, lighter green underside. In fall the leaves turn lovely shades of gold, orange and red, before dropping to reveal the fruit, which makes a great display on the bare twigs.
This variety of Japanese Persimmon is a later ripening one, perfect for extending the season if you have other early forms (try ‘Tanenashi’ for early fruit). The fruit ripens in October and November, and once picked it keeps well in the fridge for several more weeks. The fruits are small – perfect for eating out of your hand – only 2 to 3 inches across, but the crop is abundant. The skin is a very deep orange, verging on red, and the flesh is bright, rich orange – delicious looking. You can begin eating the fruit as soon as it is well-colored, it will be crunchy like an apple, but already sweet. Leave it longer and it will be more like a plum, and later in the season it will be soft, but still deliciously sweet and aromatic. It carries a full crop even when grown alone, and it is completely self-pollinating.
The tree is so ornamental in leaf and hanging with fruit, that you can grow it on a lawn as a lovely specimen. Grow it at the back of a shrub bed, around your house or out with other fruit trees. It can also be grown in a large tub, if you have indoor space, and brought in for the winter months.
The Suruga Persimmon is hardy from zone 7 right to southern Florida, zone 10. It only needs about 100 hours of chilling (time when temperatures are below 45 degrees), so even if you are keeping it indoors for the coldest months it will be enough chill in fall and spring to keep it healthy and ‘in sync’ with the seasons.
Plant your Suruga Persimmon Tree in full sun for the best results. It will grow in just about any well-drained soils, although it doesn’t like very alkaline soils too much. Avoid wet ground – plant on a slope or mound if your soil is often wet. In containers use a regular houseplant or window-box potting soil.
While other fruit trees need constant attention, the Suruga Persimmon is very low-maintenance. It is usually free of any significant pests or diseases, so it needs no spraying. If you aren’t trying to keep it smaller it needs no pruning, although a little formative shaping when young is a good idea. Open out the center a little, and shorten back long branches. You can do this anytime from March to July, so take your time, no deadlines are involved. A tree in a container should be left outside until the night temperatures are almost at freezing (32 degrees) and the leaves have fallen. Bring it inside to a bright place, it doesn’t have to be warm, just above freezing. Once you have picked all the fruit it doesn’t even need light. Put it back outside in a sunny, sheltered place as soon as possible in spring, once the nights are above freezing.
The Japanese Persimmon (柿), Diospyros kaki, has a long history in China and especially in Japan where it has been grown for centuries. Most varieties, both ancient and modern, were developed there, and the variety called ‘Suruga’ is no exception. It was created as part of an intensive breeding program in the years after WWII, to develop low-tannin varieties that could be eaten straight from the tree. Many important varieties were released when the work was over, including ‘Suruga’, which was first made available to growers in 1959. It is a hybrid of two earlier varieties, ‘Okugosho’ and ‘Hanagosho’.
Persimmons are perfect for the gardener who wants to grow fruit, but doesn’t want the work that traditional fruit trees need. It is also one of the few subtropical fruits that can be successfully grown in a pot in cold parts of the country. Wherever you live, the Suruga Japanese Persimmon Tree is perfect, but order right away, before our limited supply of this great tree is sold out.