I’m becoming a fan of persimmon fruits, and I’m wondering if I get a tree (or two) what are some good companions to plant alongside them. So, I did some digging to find out more.
The best companion plants for persimmon trees are bee balm, Mexican sunflower, alliums, sweet potatoes, and other fruit trees. These provide persimmons with benefits such as increased pollination, pest control, weed prevention, and fixing nitrogen. Keep these plants within 50 feet to maximize their benefits.
Let’s take a look at the exact benefits these plants offer persimmon trees, and some other persimmon companion plants.
Benefits of Companion Planting
Companion planting is selecting specific plants to place together to achieve benefits, such as increasing pollination or repelling pests. Sometimes these benefits are one-sided, while others are mutual.
A famous example is The Three Sisters—planting corn, beans, and squash together. The corn provides a trellis for the beans to climb, the squash provides a ground cover, and the beans fix nitrogen in the soil. Plus, all of them provide food!
Here’s a list of the benefits that gardens gain from companion planting:
- Boost Pollination
- Repel Pests
- Prevent Weeds
- Fix Nitrogen
- Amend the Soil
- Cover the Soil
- Reduce Evaporation
- Provide a Living Trellis
- Maximize Space
- Produce More Food
If you’d like to learn more about the benefits of companion planting, check out my other post: The Top 10 Benefits of Companion Planting.
1. Bee Balm
Bee balm (Monarda) is a vigorous perennial wildflower with unusual flowers reminiscent of a bad hair day. This North American native also goes by bergamot, horsemint, and Oswego tea.
Bee balm flowers from late spring through summer, coinciding with persimmon’s bloom time and attracting bees for abundant fruit sets. It also attracts beneficial insects like hoverflies and wasps that control populations of aphids, caterpillars, and scale insects.
Planting a nice swath of bee balm nearby can protect your persimmons from deer who are repelled by its scent.
Recommended: Do Deer Eat Fruit Trees? + 14 Ways to Keep Them Away
Here are some more companion plants for bee balm:
Bee balm is hardy from zones four to eleven and prefers full sun except in the hottest climates. It grows and spreads vigorously, so consider potting it to keep it contained.
2. Mexican Sunflower
The Mexican sunflower (Tithonia diversifolia) is a bushy plant that produces an abundance of edible yellow flowers and leaves. Other common names include Bolivian sunflower and tree marigold.
Mexican sunflowers start blooming in July, right around the same time as persimmons. That means they will attract pollinators who will stick around to enjoy the persimmon flowers, increasing fruit set.
With long taproots that mine for nitrogen, phosphorus, and other minerals, Mexican sunflowers can be used as a chop-and-drop mulch to enrich the soil for your persimmons.
Other companions for Mexican sunflowers:
- Castor bean
Evergreen in zones 9-11, Mexican sunflowers can grow as an annual in cooler zones. Requiring full sun and average soil, these plants take up space, so plant them at least 2 feet apart and near your persimmon trees (ideally within 50 feet).
3. Alliums (Onion, Garlic, and Chives)
Allium is a genus that includes onions, garlic, chives, shallots, and leeks. These plants are delicious as well as medicinal, and they create lovely globe-shaped blossoms in the garden.
Plants in the allium group emit strong odors, repelling aphids and mites that can damage persimmons in high populations.
Their thick bulbous roots can also be a barrier to grasses and other weeds when grown close together. Plant them in a ring around the dripline of your persimmon trees to keep the weeds from closing in.
Other companions for alliums:
Alliums can grow in zones 3-9, depending on the variety, and need full sun and good drainage.
4. Sweet Potato
Sweet potatoes are members of the morning glory family that produce the famous starchy root vegetable. The plants also create long vines of edible leaves and bell-shaped flowers.
Fun Fact: Sweet potatoes are not related to potatoes.
Sweet potatoes pair well with persimmons when the trees are young and aren’t casting much shade. The long vines make an excellent weed suppression and moisture-retention ground cover, while the tubers loosen and aerate the soil.
Here are some other companions for sweet potatoes:
Perennial in zones 9-11, sweet potatoes grow as an annual anywhere there is a 90-day frost-free period. They require at least 6 hours of full sun and loose, moderately rich, well-draining soil.
Elderberry is a deciduous shrub known for the benefits of its berries. It sets its fruit from beautiful white blossoms that flower in spring.
Plant elderberry near your persimmons to attract beneficial insects and birds.
Elderberry also has a bloom time that overlaps with persimmon in July, attracting bees and other pollinators.
Later on, elderberry provides fruit and a protective habitat that attracts birds. Birds control pests like caterpillars that harm persimmon’s fruit yield.
Here are some other companions for elderberries:
Elderberries grow well in zones 3-9. Though self-pollinating, they fruit better when planted in pairs or groups. They prefer slightly acidic, fertile, and moist soil but tolerate various conditions.
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6. Red Clover
A perennial wildflower native, red clover also goes by names like cow grass, trefoil, bee bread, and purple clover. The flowers and leaves are edible and have some benefits.
Plant this easy-going herb as a ground cover around your persimmons to suppress weeds and preserve soil moisture. Red clover is also a legume that fixes nitrogen, improving soil fertility.
Blooming in spring and continuing throughout summer, red clover attracts bees and beneficial predators like ladybugs, lacewings, and hoverflies.
Hummingbirds, attracted to the nectar in red clover flowers, also repel pests by consuming caterpillars.
Other companions for red clover:
Red clover grows in zones 3-9. It prefers at least 6 hours of sun and average, well-drained soil and will tolerate some drought.
7. Sea Buckthorn
Sea Buckthorn (Hippophae rhamnoides) is a beautiful shrub with long thorns, silvery leaves, and bright orange edible fruit. The fruit is prized for its many benefits.
Also a nitrogen fixer, sea buckthorn enriches the soil through its root system. When trained as a fruit hedge (or fedge), its abundance of thorns makes it fantastic for protecting your persimmons from deer.
Sea buckthorn fruit ripens from August through October, attracting birds and providing them with a protected place to nest among its thorny branches. More birds mean more pest control for your persimmons.
Some other companions for sea buckthorn:
Sea buckthorn grows in zones 2-8 and anywhere there is full sun and well-drained soil. As fruit only sets on female plants, sea buckthorn needs at least 1 male tree to produce fruit.
8. Golden Oregano
Gardeners love golden oregano for its bright yellow leaves and low-growing habit. This edible perennial herb also has many benefits.
Use golden oregano as a ground cover for persimmons. It creates a dense mat of yellow leaves that will conserve moisture and suppress weeds.
This oregano cultivar tolerates partial to full shade. Plant it when the persimmon is young, and it will be an excellent ground cover, even as the canopy broadens and fills out.
Golden oregano performs additional functions of repelling deer, as they dislike its pungent aroma.
Other golden oregano companions:
Hardy in zones 5-10, golden oregano can be grown as an annual in cooler climates. Space plants 1 foot apart in well-draining average soil for a dense, weed-blocking ground cover.
9. Daikon Radish
Daikon radish is an Asian vegetable known for its tap root that can grow up to four feet long. It is also known as tillage radish, Japanese radish, Chinese radish, winter radish, and forage radish.
You can plant daikon radish with persimmons anywhere compacted soil needs loosening and aeration. Their strong taproots open pathways for air, nutrients, and water, whether they’re pulled for eating or left to decompose.
Daikon radish also improves the soil by increasing concentrations of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium (NPK).
Additionally, they provide an adequate weed-blocking ground cover when planted close together.
Other daikon radish companions:
Daikon radish can be grown over a wide range, from zones 2-11, in full sun to part shade, and in average soil with a neutral ph (7.0). As a fleshy vegetable, it likes a healthy amount of water as long as the soil drains well.
10. Other Persimmon Trees
While some cultivated varieties of persimmon trees, like Nikita’s Gift and Prok American, are self-pollinating, if you want an abundance of fruit from your persimmon tree, the best companion is another persimmon tree!
Most persimmons are dioecious, meaning a single tree produces only male or female flowers. Therefore, it is essential to plant females with at least one male to ensure fruit production. The recommended ratio is 1 male to 8 female persimmon trees.
Bees are the primary persimmon pollinators. While bees can transfer pollen over several miles, planting your male trees (the sources of pollen) within 50 feet of your females will ensure they get the pollen they need to produce abundantly.
What Not to Plant with Persimmon Trees
While persimmons fruit best in full sun. Avoid planting them under larger trees like walnuts, oaks, or maples that will shade them out.
Persimmon branches tend to be brittle and prone to breakage in strong winds or, when highly productive, from the weight of their fruit. For this reason, avoid using trellising vines like grapes or hardy kiwis.
Common veggies like tomatoes, cabbage family plants, and squash may compete for nutrients and deplete the soil around your trees. Keep them away from the persimmons’ root zone or in another part of the garden altogether.