What do I have to do to get persimmon seeds to grow? I have frozen them for three months to no avail; I pick up seeds from mature trees in Breckenridge County in the fall and plant them but they do not grow.
The Gardener’s Answer
Hello, James: I apologize for the delayed response. Some trees are easier to propagate than others. The common persimmon (Diospyros virginiana) is among the more difficult ones. There are a few different species of persimmon trees and even more cultivars, but for this purpose we will assume you are referring to the common persimmon, which is what we typically find growing here in Kentucky. When persimmons are grown from seed, the fruit of one tree can taste different than that of another tree, which is why growers have developed cultivars that have a consistent flavor as well as growth habit and disease/insect resistance. These cultivars are grafted onto seedling rootstock of the common persimmon. In some cases they are grown from cuttings, and in even fewer cases they are field-grown, but they do not transplant well, so for these reasons persimmon trees are usually a bit more expensive to purchase. All this being said, when grown from seed they can lose their viability when exposed to extreme temperatures or become too dry. Seeds should be collected from September through November after they ripen. After the seed is separated from the pulp, they should be kept in moist sand or peat for 60 to 90 days at around 40 degrees F. This cold stratification is required for germination. I would suspect that the seeds you have collected in the past may have been exposed to extreme cold temperatures. If you have already collected seeds, you can plant a few of them in the ground and then put a few of them in the moist sand in a sealed container and keep them in the refrigerator for 60 to 90 days. Chances are you will have seedlings next spring.