My Japanese persimmon tree yielded a good crop of fruit the first year after I bought it, and then the fruits were not as good the following year. It almost died the third year. However, fortunately it has survived except that it has not produced any flowers ever since. The leaves still
look the same as originally and the tree appears healthy. Could this be just the original host tree and not the graft? Can you tell me what is going on with my persimmon tree and what to do next?
The Gardener’s Answer
Hi, Julian: It sounds like your Japanese persimmon (Diospyros kaki) has had a stressful few years. Not knowing the environmental conditions it is growing in, it is hard to say why it has been such a tough transition, but as with any tree it is necessary to give it ideal growing conditions for it to thrive. Full sun (at least six hours per day) and organically rich, slightly acidic, sandy soil will make this tree happy. As far as why it is not bearing fruit, there are a couple of different possibilities. Depending on the cultivar, some of them take three to five years to bear fruit, but since yours seemed to produce well the first season this may not be the issue. Another possibility is the hardiness of the flowers. These trees are hardy in USDA zones 7-9. This means it can handle temperatures as low as 0 degrees F. Is it possible that it has been colder than that the past couple of winters? If so the buds were killed by the cold temperatures, so no flowers resulting in no fruit. In this part of the country Japanese persimmon is usually grafted onto the native persimmon (Diospyrus virginiana), which helps in terms of cold hardinesss. It would have been rather obvious if the grafted plant died and the understock has taken over. It is possible but I am certain that you would have noticed if this happened. The foliage on the Japanese varieties tends to be a bit longer and wider but this depends on the cultivar. For now you can have your soil tested to see if it needs to be amended. Contact your county horticulture agent through your Cooperative Extension Service to find out about having your soil tested.