December 5, 2017
I'm so excited! I found surprises inside the 'Fuyu' persimmons we have been eating: seeds! Perhaps you have discovered seeds when you have eaten a persimmon, but I hadn't. To non-gardeners, my enthusiasm may seem not only misplaced, but too geeky for words. But to my fellow gardeners, don't you too sometimes get excited about starting something unusual from a seed?
Supposedly 'Fuyu's don't have seeds. Perhaps the fruit we have been eating isn't a 'Fuyu' after all, but they look like the pictures of 'Fuyu's. The 'Fuyu' is the flatter type of persimmon that can be eaten while still firm like an apple. It is a non-astringent type of persimmon and doesn't make the mouth pucker. This variety is one of the most popular fresh-eating Japanese persimmons in the world. Its firm ripe fruit is delicious. It will only grow where minimum temperatures stay above 0 degrees F to 5 degrees F, so I will have to grow any plant that might germinate in a container permanently and bring it indoors in the winter.
I plan to plant the dozen or so seeds we have saved to see if I can grow a persimmon from any of them. Success isn't necessarily a given. The seeds may not germinate, since they have a poor germination percentage. If they do, they might not be able to bear fruit. Persimmons are self-pollinating, which means they can set fruit with pollen from the same tree. However, they are also supposed to be parthenocarpic, meaning they should set seedless fruit without any pollination at all. Confusing, I know. But it means that any plants that might grow, may eventually bear fruit. More good news is that they can bear fruit at a young age.
What are persimmon seed germination requirements? After drying the seeds on a paper towel, I will sow them in 3-inch pots of moist seed-starting soil mix. Each little pot goes in a plastic bag and then they go into the refrigerator for two to three months of 40-degree temperature. This chilling is called cold stratification. Periodically, the soil will need to be re-moistened. Once the cold period is over, the pots come out, remain in their plastic bags and are kept at 70 degrees, preferably with bottom heat. It may take one to two months for the plants to germinate and start growing.
Another horticulture challenge for me to explore. Sounds like fun!
JoAnne Skelly is Associate Professor & Extension Educator, Emerita, University of Nevada Cooperative Extension. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.