Loquats are delicious, highly productive, broadleaf evergreen trees.
Loquats, also known as Japanese plums, are native to Asia. These easy-to-grow trees are members of the rose family.
Loquat tree characteristics
Loquat trees (Eriobotrya japonica) can reach 10 to 25 feet tall and across. Most specimens are smaller than that. In some cases, they look more like a spreading shrub. They offer lovely, fragrant white blooms in November and December, and can handle temperatures as low as 28°F. Leaves are elliptical, wrinkled, leathery, and toothed around the edge (margins). They are darker on top and lighter underneath. Smooth or slightly fuzzy yellow to orange fruits ripen in spring. These fruits contain one or more very large seeds and the fruit is delicious. These trees can make a bit of a mess when fruit drop time comes around. Loquat trees have a shallow root system, so care should be taken when digging nearby, and regular irrigation is helpful during the peak of summer. On the flip side, they cannot tolerate standing water.
Planting a loquat tree
While you can start a loquat tree from seed, the offspring tend to produce smaller, more tart fruit. You will be far more satisfied if you purchase a grafted tree from a reputable seller. Loquat trees are a low-maintenance choice in USDA Zones 8-10. They can also be grown as houseplants (but you’ll need to hand pollinate the flowers if you want any fruit). Loquats prefer full sun to partial shade. They grow best in fertile, well-drained loamy soil, and they can be grown in containers or espaliered. These trees need very little care, but regular, light feedings (if a soil test indicates nutrients are needed) can promote overall health. Too much nitrogen will interfere with flowering and fruit set. Trees should be pruned for height and shape after fruit is harvested. These trees respond well to heavy pruning.
Pests and diseases of loquat
The loquat tree is resistant to most pests and diseases. Fireblight, various rots, cankers, blights, and leaf spot may occur. Aphids, caterpillars, fruit flies, and scale insects may feed on your loquat tree.
This attractive, rounded tree provides beauty at a time when many plants are sleeping through winter. The fruit can be eaten fresh, or used to make jams, jellies, or pies.
I’m ordering mine today!
UPDATE: Loquat seed toxicity
It was recently brought to my attention that loquat seeds can be toxic to dogs and other animals. I did some research and this is what I learned:
So, once again, too much of a good thing can be a bad thing. If your dog eats a few loquats, the worst thing that will happen is a little stomach upset. If your dog is crazy in love with loquats, you should probably limit their access to the fruit.
You can grow a surprising amount of food in your own yard. Ask me how!