How do I look after a persimmon tree?

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Dear Mr Kötter, seeds in persimmon fruit are a rare find. Last year I found a huge seed, dried it for two weeks and planted it in potting compost in a 13 cm plastic pot. The seed germinated and has developed a 5 mm thick shoot that still has the brown leathery seed hull on the end of it. How do I care for this plant as it grows? Will it turn into a persimmon tree? Sunny greetings from the Ruhr valley and thank you for your reply!

The GARDENA gardening expert

The seed hull will fall off at some point or you can pull it off yourself. When the roots have filled the 13 cm pot, repot the plant in a 17 or 21 cm pot and leave it in there until the next growing season. As the plant grows, repot it in an appropriately sized pot, slightly larger each time. Look after the main stem and stake if necessary. Cut back any emerging side shoots to three buds. As the main stem grows, remove the side shoots completely to produce a stem with a crown.
Once the stem is two metres high, you can start developing the crown structure: leave about five branches spread around the main stem, prune them down to five buds and allow them to branch out. Later, prune branches that are too thick or growing inwards, as well as competing branches, right back to the leading shoot. Do not forget to feed moderately but regularly with compound fertiliser. Feed from about the beginning of April to the start of October. 

As your persimmon tree has grown from seed, you cannot really predict the real crop quality or frost-hardiness of the plant. The tree will produce fruit after a few years — for cultivated varieties, after two or three years. Only time will tell how sweet and tannin-free the fruit will be. Tannin-free means that the fruit does not make your tongue feel "furry" when eaten. The same is true of the plant's frost-hardiness. To start with at least, you should not expose it to temperatures below 0°C.

The regional and genetic origin of your seedling is key to its winter resistance. You can slowly but surely acclimatise plants to sub-zero temperatures as low as -15°C or more, especially if they are well established in a sheltered part of the garden. With that in mind, you should plant your persimmon tree in the spring before it spends its first winter outdoors! During the first winter, protect your tree (for example: www.biogreen.de/en/ ). You will only find details about frost-hardiness and crop quality for cultivated varieties with clearly defined characteristics.