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Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Persimmons Will Grow in the Mojave Desert

Q. I recently received a large bag of home-grown Fuyu persimmons given to me, grown in California. Will the Fuyu Persimmon tree survive our Las Vegas climate?  If the tree will grow here?

A. Nearly all of the persimmons will grow in this climate. I wouldn't recommend the variety called ‘Hachiya’ but Fuyu, giant Fuyu, Coffee Cake, and most of the others will grow here if they are planted correctly in amended soil and not part of a desert landscape surrounded by rock mulch.
Immature Hachiya persimmon. Hachiya may not be the best type of persimmon to grow in the desert unless you are in a backyard situation, protected from the wind and plenty of moist air.

The fruit is good quality but the fruit may sunburn because of our high light intensity.
It is important to surface mulch them with wood mulch, fertilize them once a year, prune them in a very similar manner to most other fruit trees and irrigate them as you would any other landscape plant.

Giant Fuyu which does well in the desert


  1. Keep in mind, Coffee Cake (aka Nishimura Wase) is a pollen variable Japanese persimmon. If not pollinated it remains orange and astringent until fully ripe. If pollinated, it is non-astringent and can be eaten while firm and has the cinnamon "spicy" flavor advertised.

  2. ’I wouldn’t recommend the variety called ‘Hachiya but Fuyu, giant Fuyu, coffee cake, and most of the others will grow here if they are planted correctly in amended soil and not part of a desert landscape surrounded by rock mulch."

    We live in central Texas, Austin to be exact. Seems that since we usually experience several freezes during the winter and drought during the summers, I thought the Hachiya would be best suited and seemed to be in a somewhat similar climate as Nevada....Drought tolerant after established and astringent until ripe.

    So before I plant a Hachiya in Austin could you elaborate about not recommending them in Nevada?

    1. I am sorry this took a while to get back to you. I am outside of the country right now and sometimes email is more limited.
      I consider your climate in Austin Texas to be much different from our climate in Las Vegas. Even though the low temperatures may be similar, our high temperatures, absurdly bad soils and lack of humidity can have a big impact on plants as well.

      My experience with Hachiya persimmon growing in our desert climate with our very low humidity has been a major limitation in our ability to grow sweet cherries and this particular persimmon. This is the only persimmon that I have tried which does not set fruit very well in our climate. I suspect it has something to do with our humidity.

      In Austin Texas you have a much higher humidity and a much better soils. I think this particular persimmon might do very well in your climate provided your minimum temperatures, your lowest temperatures in the winter, are not out of its range. I believe this will be a limiting factor where you are. In fact, personally I prefer Hachiya fruit over a number of other persimmon fruit but it is astringent until it is fully ripe, usually in December. But I would compare the fruit when fully ripe to be nearly mango-like.

      In a nutshell, if your lowest winter temperatures permit and you have the room, I would give it a try. If your temperatures are borderline for this tree, place it in a protected area where it can receive more warmth in the wintertime and where it can be out of strong winter winds.
      I hope this helps.

    2. OH boy I got back on this one WAY too late...and I apologize. Austin, TX climate is way different from Las Vegas. Austin gets 34 inches of precip each year...in the Eastern Mohave Desert we get 4 inches and I have been here when we didnt get anything for 18 months. This has profound impacts on our soils. We will go for stretches with 10% humidity...and there, I think, is our problem with Hachiya. We would get it to flower but the fruit would fall off when it was the size of a quarter and leave us with a dozen fruit on a ten year old tree. But all the other persimmon would set. I tried reducing sunlight intensity with 50% shade cloth, installed drip irrigation to supplement the bubbler basin irrigation, different pruning strategies and nothing worked. I assume it was a humidity problem during fruit set. This is a common problem with some tropical fruit trees. We also have a similar problem with sweet cherries in the Mojave. I think having a RH of 50% or more would solve the problem. So planting them surrounded by grass or near a pool of water might be enough. In some parts of Las Vegas sweet cherries set fruit every year. These are usually landscapes with grass or a swimming pool.

  3. Hello! I am a persimmon lover and I want to plant one on my west facing yard in Las Vegas. I did some research about the varieties. Would the Izu variety be the most drought tolerant? Do you know anything about the Saijo variety?
    Thank you very much!!!!!

    1. I don’t know either of those varieties. However, I have grown of the Asian varieties Fuyu, Hachiya, Giant Fuyu, Coffeecake, Tamopan, Chocolate, and a few others. The only one I would tell you to be careful about planting is Hachiya..It sets poorly in the dry desert climate but flowers nicely. Seems to set fruit only when we have a wet spring. I don’t know how the varieties you mentioned will do in the Mojave Desert.