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

20 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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