Do you know what a loquat tree is? Perhaps you have already seen one or two before? If you don’t know, it will change soon. A loquat tree is an amazing addition to your garden. First and foremost, it gives shade to the garden. Second, the tree produces fruits, very delicious fruits.
And here, we will talk about loquat tree care. We start with a brief introduction of the loquat. Then, we describe some of the popular varieties briefly, followed by how to plant the tree from beginning to end. We will also talk about common pests and diseases and some tips to try. Alright, with no further ado, let’s start.
About Loquat Tree
Eriobotrya japonica, more commonly known as loquat, is a member of the Rosaceae family. Yes, loquat is a relative to the rose. The loquat tree produces small, yellow, orange, or white-colored fruits. The fruits are not just beautiful, they are also delicious. Some describe loquat fruits to have a flavor like a mix between mango, peach, and citrus.
The average top height of loquat trees is 30 feet, which is quite a sizable for an evergreen tree in the garden. Don’t worry. They can be grown smaller. In fact, loquat trees are more commonly grown to be in the 10 to 15-foot range. At this size, loquat trees are much more manageable. Harvesting is easy, too.
Loquat mostly grown into trees but if you grow it short, you will see it looks a bit like a shrub than a tree. Loquat is a perennial, which is why it is a great choice to plant in a year-round garden. While loquat tree care is not difficult as the tree is not that demanding, it requires patience.
Loquat Tree Varieties
When it comes to options, you have plenty of them. There are about 800 varieties of loquat trees. Don’t worry. Even with such variations, loquat tree care is mostly the same. Each variety has its own characteristics. For example, some varieties produce round-shaped fruits, while some others are pear-shaped. Or, some produce white to yellow fruits while others orange fruits.
Below are some of the most popular varieties:
1. Big Jim
Big Jim variety produces round yellow fruits that have orange flesh within. True to its name, this variety produces big fruits.
This variety produces either yellow-orange fruits with yellow or white flesh inside. The size of the fruits is medium to large.
3. Early Red
A self-pollinating variety that produces medium to large orange-red fruits with orange-colored flesh.
4. Gold Nugget
Gold Nugget variety produces round or oblong-shaped fruits with orange flesh.
5. Vista White
Unlike the previous varieties, Vista White produces yellow fruits with white flesh inside. The fruits produced by Vista White variety are medium-sized.
Loquat Tree Care: Planting
To start, we don’t recommend planting a loquat tree from seed. Why? Because it takes many years to grow. You might even have to wait for a decade before you enjoy your first harvest. Where do you start, then? From a sapling. Specifically, a grafted sapling. A grafted sapling allows you to harvest fruit in about three years.
Choose a sapling from a variety that you like. There are about 800 cultivars of loquat available. If you don’t know which variety to grow, you can choose a sapling from any of the variety we mentioned in the previous section and start your loquat tree care from there.
Get your sapling ready? Now you can start loquat tree care. Here’s how to plant the sapling:
- First, designate a spot as a planting location. Choose a spot where the sapling can get full sun. Make sure that within a 15-foot radius, there are no other trees or structures. Remember, a loquat tree can grow big.
- Check the size of the sapling container. Note the depth and width. Ready your spade and dig a hole three times the sizes, both the depth and width. When you spade, pile the removed soil beside the hole.
- Next, take out the sapling from its pot. Most loquat saplings in garden stores or nurseries are planted in 3-gallon pots. Rinse the sapling’s root ball using a garden hose so that about 1 inch of potting soil around it is removed. Doing so frees the tips of the root, allowing the sapling to establish in the ground quicker.
- Place the loquat sapling inside the hole. Position the sapling that its root ball is in line with the hole. Once the position is right, fill the hole with the removed soil.
- Using your foot or the spade flat side, tamp down the soil. Then, water the planted sapling so that the soil is moist to 24 to 36 inches deep. This helps to remove any air pocket in the soil.
- Keep watering the sapling every day a week after planting. After a week has passed, reduce the watering frequency to once per week. Maintain this watering frequency for the first three years. After the first three years, water only when it is necessary (e.g. when the tree produces fruit or exhibits signs of drought stress).
- One of the first loquat tree care to do is fertilizing. Fertilize the newly planted sapling with a quarter pound of 6-6-6 fertilizer a month after planting. After that, fertilize the tree every four months with a pound of 6-6-6 fertilizer.
Loquat Tree Care: Caring for the Tree
Once established, there is not a lot you need to do for loquat tree care. That doesn’t necessarily mean that you can just leave them alone and expect the best yields. There is some care you need to do if you want the best yields. Here’s how you care about a loquat tree.
When it comes to soil, loquat tree care is less needed besides providing well-draining soil. Loquat trees are not picky when it comes to the soil makeup. That is, as long as the soil is not salinated. Loquat trees grow well regardless of whether the soil is acidic or alkaline. Just make sure it is well-drained soil.
Watering properly is of course a part of loquat tree care. During its first year, a loquat tree needs a lot of water. For the first two weeks, water the planted tree 3 to 4 times per week. After that, slowly and gradually reduce the frequency of watering until the tree is established.
In general, loquat trees can grow well if they are grown in regions where the annual rain is between 20 and 45 inches. If you live in one of these regions, loquat tree care that you need to do is minimal. If the annual rain is less than that where you live, additional watering is necessary.
During the hot summer months, deep and slow watering each week can help the tree to withstand the heat. This is especially important if the temperature reaches 95 degrees Fahrenheit or hotter. For effective and efficient watering, use a drip hose instead of splashing water around. Mulching during these times can help to maintain the moisture in the soil.
For a loquat tree to grow optimally, you need to grow it somewhere where it can bask in full sun. The best zones to grow a loquat tree is zones 8 to 10. That means if you live in the U.S., the best places to grow are most of California and much of the southern part of the country.
If you have a patio in your house, you can take advantage of loquat trees’ love for the sun. That’s right. Grow it as a shade cover. One of the best things about loquat trees is that they are both practical and ornamental. They add an interesting focal point, so adding a tree into your patio is not a bad idea.
The loquat tree care is the same for growing a loquat plant in containers. You will need to move them around depending on the weather. When the weather is optimal, move it outside so it can get the sunlight it needs. When the weather is too cold, move it inside and use artificial light as a substitute to sunlight.
In terms of temperature, loquat trees grow best in a location with 45 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit temperature. The trees can withstand cool temperatures, even as low as 10 degrees Fahrenheit. The problem is, flowers and fruits will die off when the temperature is under 30 degrees Fahrenheit, limiting the trees to becoming ornamentals only.
Loquat trees are also sensitive to heat. Loquat trees may have difficulties growing or suffer leaf-scorch if the temperature is over 95 degrees Fahrenheit. One of loquat tree care that you can do during hot summer months is to water them well. You can help alleviate these difficulties by giving the tree supplemental watering.
The loquat tree care you need to do in the first year is to apply fertilizer three times. You can’t fertilize immediately after planting, however. Wait until your loquat tree grows and somewhat established first. The roots should grow into the soil deeply before you give them additional nutrition. After that, you can apply fertilizer for the first time.
In the following years, use the tree’s trunk diameter to measure the needed amount of annual fertilizer. The ratio is 1 pound of fertilizer per 1 inch of diameter. When you fertilize, space out the applications over the year. Water the tree well each time you apply fertilizer.
Loquat Tree Care: Harvesting and Storing
- Ripe loquats usually are a bit bigger than unripe loquats. Ripe loquats also have slightly darker skin than unripe loquats. When you press ripe loquats gently, they will give slightly. If you see ripe loquats, pick them up immediately.
- To harvest, trim the tip of the branch where the ripe fruit is located. Remove the whole clumps of fruit all at once.
- Overripe loquat fruits are mushy, soft, and too sweet while slightly under-ripe fruits are edible but less juicy and sweet.
- Once loquat fruits are harvested, they can only last for a few days. They have to be consumed immediately. Fortunately, you can preserve them by freezing them and thaw them later when you want to consume them.
- Alternatively, you can preserve loquat fruits into another form like syrups, jams, or jellies.
Loquat Tree Care: Common Pests and Disease
- The most common pests for loquat trees are fruit flies and scale insects.
- To control scale insects, apply horticultural mineral oil. This oil works by coating scale insects, smothering them in the process.
- To prevent fruit flies, spray fruit flies repellant chemicals or cover the fruit with a fine-meshed bag. If you find a fallen fruit affected by the maggots, immediately dispose of the fruit far away from the tree.
- Two common diseases for loquat trees are pear blight and fire blight. Both of these diseases are caused by bacterial infections.
- Pear blight. Some bactericides can help to prevent pear blight. If you find any shoots affected by it, remove them immediately to prevent pear blight from spreading.
- Fire blight is common in areas with high humidity or rain during late spring or early summer. The same treatment for pear blight can be applied for fire blight, as both diseases are caused by bacteria.
- Fungal leaf spots can also affect loquat trees. But as long as airflow can penetrate the tree’s canopy easily, they shouldn’t be a problem.
- The cores of loquat tree care are water management, good nutrition, and weed control.
- Young loquat trees can’t grow well if they have to compete for nutrition and water against weeds. So, clean up any weed in 2 to 3 feet radius around the tree.
- In general, loquat trees are unlikely to be troubled by many pests or diseases. That said, including checking the tree regularly in your loquat tree care routine so you can control pests or diseases immediately.
As you can see, loquat tree care actually doesn’t take much. You will, however, need patience. It takes time for the tree to grow. Don’t worry. All your effort, time, and energy will be rewarded with an amazing tree that produces delicious fruits the entire family can enjoy. What do you think? Ready to plant your own loquat tree.