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Persimmon Bonsai

Fuyu Persimmon Bonsai Diary (Diospyros kaki)

After reading about the black sapote, and finding that it is actually in the persimmon family, I decided to finally get a persimmon tree even though I'd never had one before. That and my son reported that the fuyu persimmons taste like non-tangy mangos.

Reasearching reveals that there are two main persimmons; Fuyu and Hichaya.  I went with Fuyu because Black Sapote already has to be ripe or overripe and custard like to eat. The Fuyu variety can be eaten hard like an apple or wait until it is soft and custard-like for eating.  The Hichaya is not as versatile as the Fuyu, being only edible after ripening to a custard-like texture.   Also, the Fuyu and Hichaya have similar flavor, and we can't have that.

Training a persimmon to bonsai form requires careful planning.  A common complaint of persimmons as a bonsai specimen is the sparseness of the branch compositions.  Fuyus are great for our climate as it only needs 100 - 200 chill hours.  I'm not sure how the problematic taproot is managed with the persimmons, but we will find out.  This one is named Harlequin.

Lets Get Growin

SUN: Filtered sun or afternoon shade. Persimmons are subject to sunburn on their bark and fruits and may benefit from some sun protection in very intense climates.
WATER: Water regularly
SOIL PH: 6.5-7.5
FERTILIZER: persimmon trees should be minimally fertilized. When needed trees may benefit from a 10:10:10 fertilizer applied evenly in late winter or early spring.

December 1, 2018:  Fuyu Is Ablaze For Fall
Diospyros kaki 'Harlequin'

Fuyu had no flowers this year and made some branches.  Fuyu has been kept under a very large mesquite canopy and was chopped back for branch formation and height which combined restricted growth.  I had no idea (or forgot) how lovely the fall leaves look on a persimmon tree.

Descending leaves fall to the ground,
Twirling, twisting, round and round,
Autumn season is almost here,
The smell of freshness is oh so near.

The crisp, cool breeze,
Shakes the leaves from the trees,
Autumn takes away the green,
Golden-bronze and brown is all that can be seen.

Diospyros kaki 'Harlequin'

November 11, 2017:  Fall Is Here, Fuyu Says So

The persimmon tree hasn't grown much since the spring awakening.  All the fruit buds fell off and we have three branches.  One trained as a main stem and another going one way and a very small branch going another way.  All right about the same place.  In an arborist's view, this is not a good thing.  It is not structurally sound.  

Maybe we can move some things around this winter and get it in a better position.

May 6, 2017 Fruits Forming, No Idea How Many Will Make It
Diospyros kaki 'Harlequin'

A few of the blossoms dropped.  Some of the blossoms are shirking the brown used up petals and the fruits are bulging underneath.

If these make it, we will be able to taste persimmons for the first time some time between October this year and February next year.  Seasonality may depend on variety or if the trees blossom for an extended period of time.

The sepals aren't as high as they once were, seeming to be more protective now.  They still appear to be firm, but not as hydrated as they were in April, while the flowers were open and receptive.

Diospyros kaki 'Harlequin'

April 22, 2017 Buds Flowering And No Idea If The Tree Will Drop Them

The fuyu tree buds are opening and displaying the waxy looking flowers.  The tree put out multiple side branches so one was set as a lead to grow the tree a bit taller.

A few starter side branches were pinched off to control the number of branches.  Currently we have three or four potential side branches for the basic scaffolding of the tree, but they are not 12 inches apart vertically.  They are pretty much spaced evenly apart from the tree trunk when looking from the top down.

We will save trimming of these other vertical branches
Diospyros kaki 'Harlequin'
for dormant tree pruning. It may give the main trunk time to thicken up more in support of the larger branches.

The persimmon buds are very origami-like to me. A bunch of green folds that unfold and reveal the white folded petals underneath, which unfold and expand for pollination. I checked to see if the persimmon flowers are edible and found zero information on that, which probably means no.  However I did see that some people mix persimmon seeds with coffee beans to maximize coffee.

April 14, 2017 Surprise And No Idea How Many Days To Fresh Fruit!
Diospyros kaki 'Harlequin'

I want to pinch myself. I think we have flower buds on the fuyu persimmon... 

I checked it out, and the timing seems to be right.  Two weeks after leaf sprouts, out come the flower buds.  The folded shape is quite interesting. 

Diospyros kaki 'Harlequin'

I will be taking photos regularly to document the various stages of the fruit buds, blossoms and development. Hooray!  I hope these don't drop!

Diospyros kaki 'Harlequin'

April 2, 2017 3598 Days To Fresh Fruit

The persimmon tree is getting a bunch of leaves. This is good to see and helps build confidence in growing some of the lesser known fruit trees.

We picked the fuyu because it can be eaten when hard and crisp, or allowed to soften and would be similar to the hachiya persimmon tree.  Never having eaten either, it seemed more pragmatic to get the tree to pull a double duty on fruit production someday.

March 25, 2017 3630 Days To Fresh Fruit

Diospyros kaki 'Harlequin'

Harlequin broke dormancy!  So nice to see that the tree will come back this year. It is odd that the two related trees - Persimmon and Black Sapote are deciduous and evergreen.  

I see the different calculations listed here and will need to go back and verify, then update the countdown to fresh fruit.  A grafted tree can produce within a few years and a seed grown tree can take up to seven years to produce fruit.  

March 5, 2017 3650 Days To Fresh Fruit

Looking from the October picture to today, the biggest change is leaves dropped off.

We still only have these dormant buds but they look soft, like they are still alive...

New fruits make me a bit anxious because I don't know what to expect, so I can't tell if they are thriving or dying.  I'll be satisfied when these buds start greening up like some of the other plants.  Maybe Persimmon are a bit slow to get started.

Diospyros kaki 'Harlequin'

October 22, 2016 Arrival Day 1850 Days To Fresh Fruit

Harlequin arrived today.  Larger than expected with leaves cut in half and some bud development at the tip.  This is a grafted tree, so the time to fruit is cut by 2/3.  Instead of 10 years, it can be about 3 years before bearing fruit.

Fuyugaki persimmon blossom
In the mean time, we may see some flower activity before fruit development.

The flowers are not particularly showy, and look to be thick and waxy.  While we may not get fruit, the honey produced from persimmon pollination is reported to be quite tasty.

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