Loquat Eriobotrya japonica

Loquats are highly productive evergreen trees whose small rounded yellow fruits have an exotic perfumed flavour. Loquats are eaten fresh and they can also be used in puddings and preserves. Loquats are slightly frost tolerant but do better if grown in areas with warm winters. In colder parts of the country they can be grown in containers and protected from heavy frosts during winter. Loquats are self fertile – meaning they can be pollinated without the need for another plant.

Quantity 1 tree per household

THE GROWING LIFECYCLE



Loquats

  • Medium sized evergreen tree
  • Fast growing
  • Best in warmer areas
  • Most soils
  • Fragrant, aromatic fruits


Getting started

When

Plant container grown plants in spring.

Where

Plant loquats in full sun – though they will tolerate some partial afternoon shade.. Trees can reach a height of 6 metres and a similar spread. They tend to drop a lot of fruit and this can make a mess of any plantings beneath them.
Loquats can be grown in containers such as half barrels. This means you can put them in your sunniest spot – say on a deck or terrace - if your veg garden doesn’t happen to be big on suntraps.

Soil

Loquats grow well in most soils with good drainage. If your soil is very sandy or slightly sticky and you want to improve it, you can add well-rotted compost at the time of planting and continue to mulch with rich compost or shredded bark  as your plants get established.

SOW & PLANT

PLANT

Soak plants in water before planting them.
Prepare the planting area. Soil should be weed-free and well dug through to at least a full spade’s depth. Add well-rotted compost if necessary and mix with surrounding garden soil. Carefully remove loquat plant from container by turning upside down and holding the plant across the base of its stem with a spread hand. Tap the bottom of the container until the plant and its root ball come loose. Handle plants by the root ball to prevent damage to stems and shallow roots. Place loquat plant in a hole that is just larger than the container it came in. Back fill around root ball making sure there are no air pockets. Water well and mulch with a finger-thick layer of compost, shredded bark or untreated sawdust.
If planting in a container ensure it is large enough. Half barrels look good with loquats and they are the right size too. Use a fertile compost. Add slow release granules or sheep pellets before planting. When loquats are grown in containers it pays to put them where you’ll easily monitor them to ensure soil is moist – particularly in dry weather.

MAINTAIN

Keep plants weed free and maintain constant moisture levels – this is especially important in the weeks during which the fruit swell and ripen.

Feed: As long as you maintain a nutrient rich layer of mulch around their base this should give them all they need but to give plants a boost you can feed them with a sprinkling of blood and bone meal around outer edge of foliage in spring and summer. Container grown plants may need more regular feeding with a constant layer of mulch maintained at all times and a sprinkling of blood and bone meal every spring and summer.
Flowering: Loquats are self fertile or partially self fertile. Bees pollinate flowers.

HARVEST OR PICK

Fruit ripen in early to mid summer. Birds are attracted to trees when they become crowded with fruit. A carpet of windfalls often appears on the ground. Loquats can be tricky to harvest as they are small and often out of reach. Plants are often shaken with a tarp on the ground beneath them to catch fruit and cushion their fall. Alternatively you can pick fruit individually by hand – ripe ones come off very easily.

Storage: Once picked, loquats will go over quickly and deteriorate. Use them fresh or get cooking!

PRUNING

Not much pruning required. After fruiting you can:
Remove stems to improve shape of open growing plants.
Remove dead, diseased and spindly stems.

PESTS

No real problems with loquats. Black scale sometimes affects trees.