Transplanting a tree from one spot to the next is never a simple task, especially if the tree has fairly deep tap roots like the common persimmon (Diospyros virginiana) or “Possum Apple” tree.
So, first things first with a successful tree transplant — getting the moving day off to a good start.
When should you transplant a persimmon tree? The ideal time to transplant a persimmon tree is when they are dormant in early spring after the risk of frost has passed or in late fall. It is also advisable to plant trees when they are young as mature root systems will be much harder to manage and more easily damaged.
Transplanting success is not just about picking the ideal season to do so, but it’s also about the age of your persimmon tree, its health, and providing the right care to cause as little stress as possible.
Let’s look at the timing of transplanting this fruit tree as well as tips for reducing transplant shock, a step-by-step guide to transplanting, and more.
Best Time To Transplant Persimmon Trees
The extensive root system of persimmon trees can make transplanting a challenge, so it’s important to get the timing right to make the process easier. Here are a few pointers to keep in mind before you begin…
Time of Year for Transplanting Persimmon Trees
The recommended transplanting time is in early spring after the last frost date in your area but before new growth appears so as not to move your persimmon during its growing stage.
Generally, though, many gardeners simply advise transplanting persimmons whenever they are dormant, so this can be October or early January/February. To get even more specific, transplanting after a soaking rain will be an ideal time too!
How Old Should Persimmon Trees Be Before Being Moved?
It’s advisable to move persimmon trees when they are younger than 3 years old as they can become very strongly rooted after this time.
It’s for this reason that many fruit tree nurseries only sell persimmon saplings between 1 and 3 years old as transplanting and aftercare require a lot more effort beyond this point.
Can You Transplant a Mature Persimmon Tree?
Mature persimmons can be moved, but as with all mature fruit trees, it’s important to consider whether your tree is healthy enough to be moved.
According to urban gardener Sharon McKee of Dave’s Garden:
“If your old tree is weakened by pest damage or disease, it must be successfully treated and on the road to recovery before being transplanted.”
Dealing with a larger root ball also means taking extra care in transit if you’re moving it to a new location.
McKee advises wrapping the root ball in “a mesh tarp or a burlap sack for protection. Tarp is especially helpful as the smooth tarp surface can help you slide the root ball into place.”
Ways To Reduce Transplant Shock When Moving Your Persimmon
- Prep the new soil location well by roto-tilling the soil so it’s nice and loose.
- Water well after transplanting (an inch of water a week), and ensure the planting site has good drainage. You can carry out a soil percolation test on the area to see how fast it absorbs water.
- Add a deep layer of mulch (between 2 and 4 inches) around the tree’s base to provide plenty of nutrients and moisture and keep weeds at bay.
- Last but not least — try to prune the roots a year or two before transplanting if you can! Former forest resources analyst for Alabama, Steve Nix explains: “At a comfortable distance away from the trunk, sever the roots around the tree using a spade. Pruning ahead of time in this way causes the roots to grow in a more compact form, so you’re left with more of the total root system when you dig up your ball.”
How To Transplant a Persimmon Tree
1. Persimmon trees spread 30 feet tall and wide on average, so begin by measuring the distance from your new planting location to nearby buildings, wires, etc. that could obstruct it.
2. Using a large spade, dig up a new planting area of at least 36 inches square, and break the soil up to a depth of around 24 inches.
3. Shovel out a planting hole the same depth as your persimmon tree’s root ball and three times as wide.
4. Next, dig a circular trench around your tree as far as the drip line (this is where the foliage ends and where your persimmon’s feeder roots normally end). Dig continually until you’re able to slip the spade beneath the tree’s tap root and push the shovel down until the root ball has loosened.
5. Place a sheet of plastic tarp near the tree, and gently lift the root ball from the ground onto the tarp. Carefully drag the tree to its new planting site.
6. Gently ease the root ball into the new planting hole, and once positioned straight, backfill the hole with earth. Tamp down the surrounding soil with the back of your shovel.
7. Water the tree thoroughly, letting a garden hose drip onto the soil until the area is completely saturated.
8. Finally, add a couple of inches of mulch around the trunk base, and tie support stakes to the tree if it is fairly small.
Ideal Growing Conditions for Persimmon Trees
Persimmon trees thrive and produce abundant fruit when planted in full sun (at least 8 hours of direct sunlight from June to August) and appreciate slightly acidic pH soil that is fertile and drains quickly.
A couple of other important things to take into consideration for your persimmon tree are its ideal USDA Grow Zone (between Zones 5 and 9 is perfect) and whether your persimmon variety requires a pollinating partner or is self-fertile.
How Often Should You Prune a Persimmon Tree?
Generally, persimmon trees should be pruned once a year during their dormant period in late winter or early spring.
This entails the corrective pruning of dead, broken, or diseased branches as well as yearly pruning to improve its structure.
Stark Bro’s advises “trimming all other healthy branches by a 1/3 to a bud that is facing the direction you would like the tree to grow.”
Are Persimmon Tree Roots Invasive?
The roots of common persimmon trees can become invasive in pastures, and the tap roots of Japanese persimmons are fairly deep, which can make them more challenging to transplant.
However, this persimmon variety is not listed as an invasive species, according to the University of Florida Extension.
Can You Plant Persimmon Trees From Seed?
Yes, persimmon trees can grow quite reliably from seed, taking 3-5 years to produce fruit. Persimmons may not always reproduce true to seed, however, resulting in either tasteless or superior fruit compared with its parent tree.
Persimmons grown from stem cuttings will produce better-quality fruit.
To sum up, persimmon trees are best transplanted during their dormant period and preferably before they are 3 years old. This will make the entire process easier from pruning and digging up the roots to transporting the tree itself.
To ensure a healthy start for your newly transplanted tree, it’s important to minimize transplant shock in various ways from loosening the soil in its new planting location to pruning the roots well ahead of the actual transplanting to make the move far more manageable for both the persimmon tree and for you!