A Loquat in Zone 7

Loquat - Eriobotrya japonicaA number of years ago my brother gave us a gift for the garden, a tiny loquat he dug from his daughter’s yard in Charleston SC. In checking what Michael Dirr had to say, I discovered the plant is prized for its lustrous foliage, its 12” heavily textured leaves, its drought tolerance, its fragrant and profuse blooms in the fall and unusual fruit in the spring. I was thrilled.

But, what’s this he writes about hardiness?  Dirr recommends the loquat for zones 8-10.  Gloucester is zone 7.  Well, close enough, I thought as I planted it as a specimen in the center of the yard overlooking the river.  Although I mulched it well each fall, it died back completely to the ground for the next three winters. It was barely clinging to life in zone 7.

I had nothing to lose by relocating the little fellow to a spot more sheltered from the winter winds. Surely it would die or always be a stunted shrub.  To my surprise, this insignificant twig thrived in its new home on the corner of the garden shed under the protection of loblolly and white pines. Seven years later, that small plant is now a 20’ tree that has grown over the roof of the garden shed and into the branches of the pines.

Happy loquat in zone 7

I adore this evergreen with its massive, leathery leaves that are spectacular in flower arrangements and a show stopper in the winter border but it has outgrown its home. If I could move the garden shed about 10’, I would.  Removing the pines is not an option. Each year I carefully trim up the pines to accommodate the loquat and trim enough branches of the loquat to squeeze by with my wheelbarrow on the way to the compost.

The plant overcrowding has been a lesson learned and a valuable one that has prevented me from repeating similar mistakes in the garden.  And someday I must tell Michael Dirr that, with a little protection, the loquat thrives in zone 7.

Ann Hohenberger, The Garden Club of Gloucester

30 thoughts on “A Loquat in Zone 7

  1. A beautiful loquat grows in the Adams Garden on William & Mary’s campus. It is protected by being next to a brick sorority house. The limbs of this old loquat are trimmed up to about 6 or 7 feet high so it forms a canopy, and benches are placed under it so people can sit and enjoy the garden in the shade.

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  2. Micheal Dirr? Who is he? Am I the only one so who doesn’t know his books. I looked him up on the internet. This is what I found for us uninformed.

    Michael A. Dirr is a professor of horticulture at the University of Georgia. He is the author of twelve books, including Dirr’s Hardy Trees and Shrubs: An Illustrated Encyclopedia and the text and reference book, Manual of Woody Landscape Plants, and has published more than 300 scientific and popular papers and articles. His teaching, lectures, seminars, garden study tours, and plant introduction programs have contributed enormously to greater horticultural awareness. He has received the highest teaching and gardening awards from the University of Georgia, American Society of Horticultural Science, American Horticultural Society, American Nursery & Landscape Association, Massachusetts Horticultural Society, Southern Nursery Association, and Garden Club of America

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  3. Pingback: loquat Wine-Downey Ca Area

  4. I would like to know how is your loquat tree now… I want to plant in my yard, but I live in Camden County New Jersey… it will survive?? my zone is 7a.
    I miss very much this tree because makes me remember my childhood in Argentina, I ate a lot lot of loquat fruit… Please help me. Thanks!!!

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  5. I know I am pushing it but I grew a few of them in my 5 zone garden in Michigan. They are about 5-6 inches now and might mulch and see if they will survive d harsh winters here….
    Anyone has any info on growing them protected in zone 5??

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    • Zone 5! Wow! How did this turn out? I miss the nespole fruit I was introduced to in Italy and would love to try growing them in Southern Ontario.

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  6. This fruit is one of my favorites! It’s not easy to find in the grocery stores and I’d love to be growing and eating my own. I’d love to grow one of these, and would love to know when it’s bearing fruit. The mess of the fruit isn’t a thing if you enjoy the fruit! I’m in Salt Lake City in zone 7b with protected microclimates on my land. This article inspires me to try!

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  7. If I planted a loquat, a single one, in my nj orchard, and wrapped it in winter, do do think I could get it to survive and bear fruit? I’m in 7A.

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    • You probably could if planted in a more protected spot away from direct winter winds. Mine never bore fruit though. Since I wrote that post, I saw a few loquat trees in the area… one rather large one on the William & Mary campus. And of course… there’s global warming. We have gone up a half zone.

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  8. Thank you for this! Our primary home is in Florida and we have numerous Loquats as seedlings. I wanted to take some to our NC Mountain home (zone 6a) but had given up after reading the conventional wisdom. Your comments have convinced me to give it a try with one starter plant just to see what might happen. Like you, I love these plants and would welcome something “different “ yet familiar in our landscaping.

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  9. I live between zone 8a and 7b in NC. I potted a young loquat seedling from our family in Florida a few years ago with the idea of planting it on the south side of our house in hopes of it having a sort of microclimate there where it might be happy enough to produce fruit. My biggest concern is how invasive the roots are, since I want to plant it closer to the house. What’s the consensus on that aspect of this tree?

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    • I think the tree will do very well in your hardiness zone. I’m not sure how close to your home you’re thinking of planting the tree, but I would allow about 30′ feet from your foundation. The roots aren’t deep or invasive but the crown of a fully mature loquat can be that wide. Enjoy your tree! I’m in New Hampshire now and I left my loquat tree behind in Virginia.

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      • Love this long lived discussion. So the usda zones have warmed us all up. From the blogs I have read it seems that you can get away with a zone 7.
        However if you use to be a zone 6 every few years a cold snap will bring your loquat to its knees, literally. In nyc growing fig trees by Italian immigrants was commonly done where I grew up. Many mild winters made people complacent about protection during the winter. Unfortunately a below zero cold snap killed many of these trees but the root balls survived.
        Thanks for the info that my zone 7 loquat will never come to fruit outdoors.

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  10. I live in Chattanooga TN with a 7b zone. I brought a loquat sprout from Orlando about 10 years ago and it has done well about 15 feet from the house on the west side. It is about 15 feet tall and never looses its leaves. They will get a bit frosted back when below 15 but recover well. I’ll post a photo of it blooming for the 2nd new year now. The bees are loving it on warmer days. I have thought to try using some frost protecting cloth wrapped around the bloom tips to see if they will produce fruit in about 3 more months as in Florida. Since the bees have been pollinating them already it should get some fruit if we don’t get lower than 20 degrees. That’s the what it has been with my fig trees. I have 2 varieties of figs. Brown Turkey which is more hardy and a California fig called white Kadota. The closer to the house the better but at least 10 feet away due to superficial roots. They have had good crops but taller and more fruit if closer to the house. The loquat has not needed mulching the base of the tree like the figs that can freeze back if below about 15 degrees.

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