Loquat tree overview:
The Loquat tree is a wonderful addition to the Southern California garden because it can deal with our poor soil, it is drought tolerant, and it has a great tropical appearance.
Yellow ovoid fruit with very thin skin that is easy to peel. Each fruit is 1-2 inches long. However, thinning of flowers and young fruits will enhance fruit size. Thinning of growing fruit will also augment the tendency of the plant for alternate-year bearing pattern.
Tasty succulent pulp is sweet and somewhat tart/acid. It is a really wonderful and refreshing flavor. The 1-8 dark seeds in the center are not edible but are easily removed. Fruits are best if allowed to ripen on the tree fully before harvesting (However, this can be a challenge with hungry birds in the neighborhood).
The Loquat fruit season starts around March, which is a time that few other fruits are available. The season in California lasts until June depending on the variety.
- The Loquat tree is a very tropical looking plant which is surprising drought tolerant.
- The tree is also wind tolerant, but may need staking to help a young tree hold the weight of the fruit.
- Moderate sized tree which can be 10 feet to 30 feet tall.
- The tree flowers in the fall and fruits in late winter/early spring.
- Its shallow roots are prone to damage from nearby digging.
- Judicious pruning should be done just after harvest; remove crossing branches and thin dense growth to let light into the center of the tree.
It is said that Loquat trees are able to grow in just about any soil type as long as it drains well. That being said, I always add organic material to the planting of any fruit tree.
Although drought tolerant, fruiting is better with regular irrigation.
Full to part.
Different sources have different opinions about how to fertilize a Loquat tree. I have read recommendations for a balanced fertilizer 3 times a year during growth the phase and I have also read recommendations to fertilize 1 time a year in mid winter.
When faced with this type of information, I split the difference. I know it is not particularly scientific but it is a place to start. I have started to fertilize 2x a year and it seems to be fine so far.
- The tree is adapted to a mild-temperate climate but can tolerate temperatures down to 12 F. Extreme heat and dry hot winds cause leaf scorch.
- For more information about the lowest temperatures that you can expect in your area, check out my article “Climate Zones: What can I grow in my yard?”
- For detailed information on tree pruning, check out my article, Tree Pruning Techniques.
- Despite what I have been told; gophers do eat Loquat trees. I know this from personal experience. Please cage your trees roots at planting.
- For a list of gopher resistant and nonresistant plants, check out my post from 8/28/13.
- Birds peck at the ripe fruit and I have heard that deer will browse on the foliage.
- I use Holographic Bird Scare Tape that works rather well at keeping the birds away (might even keep the dear away). If you are going to use glitter tape, it is best to only use it during the fruit season so that the birds don’t get use to it. A very similar product is Flash Tape but I haven’t tried that.
- Other than the assault from the air and underground, I have not had any issues with pests.
- I have not noticed any bugs attacking the tree so far. This is not surprising because in California there are few bugs that bother loquats.
- The major problem bugs I have read about in California are: Fire blight (Erwinia amylovora), Codlin moth (Cydia pomonella), green apple aphis (Aphis pomi), scale, Pear blight (Bacillus amylovorus), crown rot (Phytophthor), and cankers (Pseudomonas eriobotryae).
I like to just eat them fresh out of hand. It’s hard to stop eating them. Loquats are also used to make pies, sauces, jams, jellies, and even chutney.
The loquat has been cultivated in Asia for over 1000 years and there are over 800 varieties.