Rich in fiber, antioxidants and countless nutrients – persimmons have been cultivated for hundreds of years. Native persimmons ( diospyros virginiana) can grow to 30 to 40 feet. While you can start a persimmon from seed, using a stem cutting will give you an identical copy of the parent tree. There are several different methods that can be used to propagate native persimmon.
It is easy to propagate a persimmon from seed. Choose a seed from a fully ripe persimmon, remove a few seeds and soak them for a few days to loosen any sticky flesh. You will need to simulate the natural overwintering process by chilling the seeds, wrapping them in a moist paper towel and putting them in a jar or plastic bag inside of a refrigerator for three months. If the paper towel dries out, rewet it.
Persimmon trees have taproots and need planted in a container deep enough that will allow them to grow. Once the sapling is one to two years old, it can be transplanted to your backyard or orchard. The germination success is low for persimmon seeds, so you will need to collect and germinate several seeds or try a different method.
Cuttings should be 5 to 6 inches long and taken from one-year-old shoots, side shoots or root suckers. It is best to take cuttings from semi-hardwood or hardwood stems since softwood dries out much faster. Place the cutting into a plastic bag to prevent the loss of moisture. You can dip your cutting in a rooting hormone to help encourage root growth and then place directly into soil. Water the cutting well and cover with a clear or translucent material. This increases the humidity and keeps the soil moist, preventing the cutting from drying out.
After your cutting has developed roots, you can transplant it into a larger pot with potting soil. After the threat of frost has passed and your tree has acclimated, you can transplant your sapling outside in your garden or orchard.
Native persimmons are dioecious, meaning they produce either male or female flowers. They are not self-pollinated, and both male and female trees are required to produce fruit.
Persimmon fruit can be enjoyed in baked goods, like pudding, breads and cookies.
By Jesica Streets, former WVU Extension Agent – Tucker County