Loquat Tree Growing: How To Identify, Plant, Care for Japanese Plum Tree

Woman with a basket of fruit looks at her loquat tree after learning how to identify loquat tree fruit and growing zones and care tips for Japanese plum tree including pruning and how to harvest loquat plums.

The Loquat Tree is a gift that just keeps on giving, perfect if you want to grow a tree but want something out of the common way.

If other types of fruit trees are not really working for you and you want to stand out, the Loquat Tree fruit will not disappoint.

There’s certainly a lot to love about it, as it is one-of-a-kind, very tasty, and not something you’ll often find on grocery store shelves. This type of tree is not that common, which should make it worth considering. But just imagine growing a tree with beautiful flowers and bright yellow or orange fruits; definitely a focal point in your garden, right?

There’s just one problem, how do you grow a tree and care for it? What if you are a first-timer? Will it be too overwhelming?

Not really. The Loquat is one of those trees that are not demanding, that will require very little of your time to look after, all while still serving its purpose.

This complete guide explains how to identify the Japanese plum tree and provides growing tips to ensure that your Loquat Tree will flourish.

Loquat, Japanese Plum, Chinese Plum

(Eriobotrya japonica)

Loquat Tree in oval frame on green background.
  • Family: Rosaceae
  • Genus: Eriobotrya
  • Leaf: Dark green in color, a glossy upper surface, and measuring 12-30 by 3-10 cm
  • Bark: Brown to dark gray in color, tends to be smooth
  • Seed: Shiny, dark brown, 2-3 in number inside the fruit
  • Blossoms: White flowers with 5 petals, each 1.25-2 cm wide
  • Fruit: Small, cylindrical in shape with a yellow or orange fuzzy skin
  • Native Habitat: China
  • Height: 10-25 Feet
  • Canopy: 10-25 Feet spread
  • Type: Evergreen
  • Native Growing Zone: USDA Zones 8-10

IUCN Red List of Threatened Species Ranking

Least Concern


What Is a Loquat (Eriobotrya japonica)?

The Loquat is actually a proud member of the Rosaceae family. Sounds familiar?

That’s because that is the Rose family of plants, meaning it is kind of related to the likes of apples and pears. And just like its cousins, the Loquat is also a cherished tree, well known in various parts of the world for its fruit’s juicy and tasty but tarty goodness.

The best part about the tree is this fruit that is unlike any you may have come across. It’s fuzzy with soft skin and many people swear that it tastes just like a plum, grape, or cherry, all thanks to its blend of savory yet sour flavor.

Closeup shot of a cluster of Loquat Tree fruits showing its orange fuzzy skin.

(Image: gi8mail16)

It is a delight to eat and that is why you will find it in so many jam and dessert recipes. It is also packed with so many health benefits, vitamins, and minerals that your body needs.

How To Identify Loquat Tree

There is a reason why homeowners plant the Loquat Tree as an ornamental tree: it is easy to spot from a distance and its physical features will always give it away.

Loquat Tree identification chart showing Loquat Tree USDA growing zones of the left side and Loquat Tree leaves, Loquat Tree flowers, Loquat Tree seeds and fruits, and Loquat Tree bark images in circle frames on the right side.

Here are its stunning features.

Loquat Tree Leaves

If you are a fan of various types of evergreen trees, then you will definitely appreciate the Loquat whose leaves stay stunning all through the year. The leaves are simple, alternate, and oblong, taking a shiny dark color on top while the underside is more whitish and dull.

Loquat Tree Flower

White flowering trees identification is pretty easy when you can spot a tree from a distance, and that is what makes the Loquat such a beauty.

It has bright white, five-petalled flowers that possess a pretty strong scent. Perhaps that is why the tree is such a heavy attraction for pollinators.

Loquat Fruit

Now onto the best part about the tree and maybe the main reason why you would want to plant one in the first place; the tasty fruits. They are pretty easy to tell apart because they grow in clusters of ball-like yellow or orange fleshy fruits with fuzzy skins.

Loquat Tree Seeds

When you split open a loquat, you will see two or three hard dark seeds inside. They are, however, not edible because they contain toxic compounds.

Loquat Japanese Plum Tree Types To Select

One thing that you have got to appreciate about the Loquat is that there are various types of trees to choose from. You have a say in picking the color and taste of the fruits that you expect from your tree.

Here are the top options that many homeowners go for:

  • Champagne: It is exactly what you think, this cultivar is associated with fanciness, just like the alcoholic drink. It doesn’t just look good, it also has a very rich flavor.
  • Big Jim: This fruit takes a more pale skin color that covers an orange-yellow flesh that is only slightly tart.
  • Gold Nugget: This is another very famous Loquat Tree type that has the signature yellow fruits and tarty taste but it is also sweet and very valuable, which may be the reason behind the name.
  • Mogi: This small fruit looks almost like the others, with the signature look and taste, of course, but the tree itself is generally pretty cold-sensitive.
  • Variegata: Unlike other loquat cultivars, the Variegata is mostly grown for its stunning looks. And that goes to explain why it is a top choice for planting as a decorative indoor tree.

Japanese Plum Pollination

You may be wondering about how pollination works in the Loquat.

Do trees have genders?” That is a common question that many ask before planting fruit trees.

It is quite a complicated question but all in all, tree pollination relies on the male and female parts to work together, and that is why you need to know whether the Japanese plum is self-pollinating or not.

Luckily, the Loquat self-pollinates.9 What that simply means is that the female and male parts are in one tree and one flower at that.

However, know that they are partially self-pollinating and as such, the best and only way to increase the number and quality of the fruits is if another tree does the pollinating.1 You may want to consider planting a pair or more trees for that to happen.

How To Grow a Loquat Tree

Now you know what the Loquat Tree is, its best features, what it is used for, and the common types for planting. It is now safe to get to the most crucial part of it all, how do you plant it?

There are three ways to go: you can either plant a seed, cutting, or seedling, all depending on which appeals more to your needs.

Growing a Loquat Tree From a Seed

If you are patient and pride yourself on being a great farmer, you can start planting the Loquat from a seed.

You will have to take them from freshly plucked fruits, and remove and wash them to remove any traces of fruit. The next step is to get your planting container and soil ready for planting.

Ensure that the container is wide enough and the soil has got good drainage. You are also free to add organic matter and water and care for the seed indoors until it starts germinating.

As soon as it gets to at least 6 inches tall, you can transplant it outdoors or leave it in the container as an indoor plant.

Growing a Loquat Tree From a Seedling

Alternatively, you can also get right to outdoor planting by starting off with a Loquat seedling that you can find in a nursery near you. This is regarded as one of the simplest ways to plant a fruit tree, making it perfect for beginners.

Angled shot of Loquat Tree seedlings planted in pots showing large alternate green leaves on thin trunk.

(Image: Frank Vincentz18)

All that you have to do is to find the perfect spot for your tree, make sure that there is sufficient space, and that there is full access to the sun.

You can also add manure or fertilizer into the soil before digging a hole that is at least twice the size of the container that you bought your seedling in. When you place the tree in the hole, make sure that the mark from the previous pot from the nursery is at ground level or at least 1-2 inches deeper in the soil.

Next, spread out the roots, before backfilling the soil and pressing on it to keep the tree firmly in place. Water the soil adequately and ensure that it drains well, or it will be a problem.

It is also recommended that you stake the tree to protect it from the elements.

Growing a Loquat From a Cutting

Growing from seed and seedlings are the most common because using cuttings proves to be a little bit complicated. Many would rather not do it because there are also slim chances of it being a success.

However, it is not impossible, and if you want, you can start by taking a 6-inch cut from a strong and healthy tree. After that, remove the leaves on the lower side, then dip the end in a rooting hormone.

You will then take the cutting and plant it in a container that has got fertile and well-draining soil. The tricky part of this propagation is to get the cutting to actually develop roots.11

You will have to provide water and sunlight regularly; at least until you see growth at the tip.4 When that happens, in that rare case, you will be safe to transfer your ‘tree’ to the ground, the same process as the planting of a seedling.

Planting Tips for Loquat Tree

If you have your heart set on growing a loquat, the following tips may come in handy.

Where To Plant Loquat Tree

This is perhaps the most important decision you will make when preparing to plant your Loquat. The last thing you want is to make your tree’s permanent home uncomfortable because it will definitely show.

When choosing a planting site, make sure that it is in the open and that there are no shading structures around. Also, since the tree will likely grow big, you want to check that it is not too close to your house or electric lines.

How Far Apart To Plant Loquat Tree

You know that the Loquat can reach a 10-25 foot spread, and you want to take that into consideration when spacing it out with other trees.

The best thing that you can do is to make sure that there is at least a 15-foot distance between two loquats. And as for dwarf Loquat Tree species, you want to give them an 8-10 foot distance.

Tips For Growing Loquat Trees in Pots

Good news for you if you have a container garden or want to plant the tree indoors because the Loquat doesn’t mind and will actually be happy to grow in a confined space.

The first step of course is to choose a suitable planter, plastic, clay, or any other material, just as long as it is spacious enough, maybe 24 inches deep and wide.

For the best results, consider planting dwarf varieties and be ready for reporting at least once a year.

There is quite a lot that you can do with a potted loquat. You can have it in your patio area or in your container garden and pair it with other trees for more aesthetic value.

Best Growing Conditions for Loquat Tree

It is amazing how low-maintenance the Loquat actually is. If you don’t want a needy tree or often get busy and forget your tree for a while, that will not be a problem.

However, there are a few minimums that you should at least meet to grow a healthy and happy Loquat Tree.

Watering Needs for Loquat Tree Plants

Lucky you because the Loquat is actually one of the most drought-tolerant trees that will not complain when you fail to water it in a few days.

Watering a tree like a Loquat is not that tasking; you can even do it once a week or twice during the hot months. However, when the flowers and fruits start to show, you can water them thrice a week as a boost.

How Much Sunlight Does Loquat Tree Need Each Day?

Apart from water, sunlight is another must-have for the Loquat, or any other fruit tree for that matter. That is why it is important to choose an open space for planting because you don’t want excessive shading.

The juiciest and most abundant fruits show up when the tree gets at least 6 hours of sunlight every single day; that also applies to indoor trees, but you can supplement that with a grow light.14

Loquat Tree Fertilizer

Your tree will still survive without regular fertilizing, but if you don’t want to take the chance and want to make sure that you get the most out of them, consider applying it at least three times in a year using a 6-6-6 NPK fertilizer (one rich in Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Potassium).6

Loquat Tree Care and Maintenance

Like just about any other living thing, your Loquat Tree also needs some care and maintenance.

TLC goes a long way, even if the tree is generally low maintenance. You can make your tree comfortable with the following tips.

How To Prune Loquat Tree

Regular pruning is crucial for such a fast-growing tree like the Loquat. You will want to make it a habit, especially after harvesting, where you can trim down the shoots to make the tree look better and also prevent it from growing extremely tall and out of hand.

It also helps a great deal if you remove dead or damaged branches. And one more thing, you can cut out the densely-growing shoot in the center to enhance sunlight exposure to the rest of the tree.

How To Mulch Loquat Tree

Mulching around trees is an important step, even though many choose to skip it.

You will see a lot of difference in your tree, especially in the initial months, because it is the perfect way to preserve the level of moisture in the soil while, at the same time, hindering the growth of weeds around the tree.

A one-inch layer of mulch will be enough after planting, but you can add more as the tree grows.

Loquat Tree Growing Zone: Growing Zones For Loquat Tree

If you live in USDA zones 8-10, you will be glad to know that your Loquat will be the most comfortable growing there.

Based on its native growing zone, the tree has, over the years, adapted to the subtropical climate and can survive milder winters. Basically, if citrus trees grow well in your location, the Loquat will do the same.

Loquat Tree Growth Rate: How Long It Takes To Grow Loquat Tree

How long does it take for a tree to grow matters a lot, especially if you are dealing with a fruit tree. Of course, you want to know how long you are supposed to wait at least until the fruits start showing up.

More great news for you because the Loquat is generally considered one of the best fast-growing trees that bear fruits. It is able to grow to up to 36 inches in a single year, and above all, you should see the fruits you long for in 2-3 years after planting although it will take you 7-9 years if starting from a seed.15

Harvesting the Small Orange Fruit of the Loquat Tree

Congratulations if you have successfully planted your Loquat Tree and cared for it until it bears fruits and is now ready to harvest! It may be a long 2-3 year wait, but definitely worth it.

The fruits will stay on the tree until they are ripe and that will be your signal to start harvesting; that should be around spring or some 90 days after the flowers show up.12

Human hand showing a cluster of the small orange fruits from the Loquat Tree, with a boxful of them in the background.

(Image: Dx2121)

The fruits should all be bright orange or yellow, with no greens. Gently harvest the fruits using pruners, and do that as soon as you can because they can get messy when they start falling off on their own.

Preserving and Using Fruit Nispero

Like many fruits, the Loquats will also spoil unless you know how to preserve them. They will be able to stay in the fridge for up to 2 weeks, but if you are not ready to consume them, or they are too many, there are alternative ways to keep them fresh for longer.

You can store them in the fridge after washing and removing the seeds. This way, your fruits will easily go for months without spoiling.

Another clever trick is to make jam or jelly with them or use them to make syrups, wines, or pickled fruits.5

There is a lot that your Loquats can do for you, especially for your cooking needs, apart from jam. There are so many recipes that call for the use of loquats that you will not get enough of.

Common Pests of the Loquat Tree

Many people love the tasty loquat fruits, and pests and birds are drawn to them in the same way. If you want to ensure that the pests that also spread diseases keep off your precious fruits, you should know which ones to look out for and learn how to stop them.

For instance, the arch nemesis of all farmers is the tiny insects called aphids.

Top shot of an aphid insect that may pester a Loquat plant showing its orange back and legs with black and yellowish brown coloring.

(Photo by WikiPedant at Wikimedia Commons22)

These tiny pests love sucking the sap from the leaves, discoloring them, and causing premature leaf fall. They also attract ants in the process, which escalates mold infections which you definitely don’t want on your fruits.

Scales are pests that any farmer will warn you about. Members of this group of insects are tiny, round and lead to a lot of problems for the plant, from chlorosis to stunted growth.

Spider mites are also to watch out for, especially because they are so hard to detect, although they usually announce their presence with the webs that they weave all over the tree.

Fruit flies are also notorious insects that will always be drawn to the fruits especially when left overripe and falls off the tree.

Natural Pest Control for Loquat Tree

What happens the moment you spot an attack on your Loquat Tree? Your very first instinct will be to go to the nearest store and buy a pesticide or any other chemical that will get rid of the pestering insects, right?

But not so fast; these artificial remedies are not advisable, especially when dealing with a minor pest attack. There are certainly some cheaper and, of course, safer remedies that you can rely on.

If there are a few tiny insects on the leaves of your Loquat, you can always hose them off to get rid of them; this especially works for aphids and the like.

Apart from that, you can also make natural insecticidal soap at home by mixing dish soap, vegetable oil, garlic, and other natural repellants; spray that instead of the harmful pesticides.

Some farmers also introduce predators that are sure to attack the insects that are bothering the tree while at the same time having no effect whatsoever on the Loquat.13

Loquat Tree Problems and Diseases

The Loquat may be very resilient, but it is still susceptible to diseases, some of which can be fatal.

You should know which problems are the most common and learn how to identify and stop them, at least before it becomes too late for your tree.

This is particularly true when it comes to viruses and bacteria that prove too challenging to treat and easily spread to the rest of the tree.

Close-up shot of a loquat tree leaf covered with white fiber-like strands due to a tree disease.

(Image: Gabi Lamberti19)

The fire blight terrorizes fruit trees. It manifests as cankers and then later starts oozing a liquid that later turns dark.

The result? Black flowers, leaves, and fruit. In short, the entire tree could shrivel up and die.

Leaf spot is another deadly disease that is a fungal infection and that is enough to worry you. What starts with tiny red spots on the leaves escalates into massive spots that engulf the entire affected part.

You must have also heard about verticillium wilt, which is another fungal disease that spreads rapidly and could kill your tree. It starts from the roots and travels all the way up.

What’s even more shocking is the fact that it is able to live in the soil waiting for a host.7 The result of this disease is leaf curl, chlorosis, and defoliation.

Loquat Tree Disease Prevention and How To Stop Loquat Tree Disease

Loquat fungal and bacterial diseases are not to be messed with. Your years of care and maintenance could all go down the drain unless you take preventative measures, detect the signs early enough and know how to stop them for good.

It all starts with prevention.

First, make sure that you practice sanitary gardening. Your tools should always be clean, and avoid planting trees that are already infected regardless of how small you think the infection is.

A fully grown Loquat Tree peppered with lots of fruits planted in a house backyard.

(Image: carlfbagge20)

Did you also know that excessive use of nitrogen fertilizer can also be a problem? So you want to limit that when growing your Loquat Tree.

If you want to deal with these infections, you can opt for copper-based fungicides.

Also, remember that if your tree is unfortunately under attack, you should immediately sever the infected parts to avoid further spreading and even burn them because these infections can easily spread through wind and water.

Loquat Tree Facts You Should Know

The Loquat Tree is undeniably an excellent choice if you are considering planting a fruit tree in your home or farm. If this is your first time hearing about it, or if you are planting it for the first time, here are some interesting facts that you should know.

  • The Loquat is a subtropical fruit that belongs to the same family as the apple, the Rosaceae group of fruit trees.
  • It was already growing in China for a long time before it migrated to Japan where it later got its name, the Japanese Plum.
  • It is a common ornamental tree that you will find in various homes and parks around the country.
  • The Loquat is the type of fruit that only ripens further when still on the tree; once you harvest it, that’s it.
  • The fruit is a rich source of vitamins A, B9, B6, and other minerals like iron and potassium.
  • The seed of the Loquat contains toxic compounds called cyanogenic glycosides that can cause vomiting and nausea when ingested.
  • The Loquat is a perennial tree that can live for more than 50 years, especially when growing in the wild.

Loquat Plant Cultivation and History

The Loquat has been cultivated for as long as two millennia, with roots in the central and southeastern parts of China.2 But why are they also commonly called the Japanese Plum?

That is because they have been growing in Japan for over 1,000 years.

The ancient Chinese revered the Loquat Tree and used its various part for several things.8 For instance, the leaves were vital for traditional medicine and were proven effective in healing bronchitis and other ailments.

The tea that was made from the leaves was also used in curing digestive problems and fever and was valued by the ancient Japanese.

News of the incredible properties of the leaves and the fruits spread like wildfire throughout the years and, fast forward to the 19th century, the Loquat would find its way to the rest of the world: from Europe to the Mediterranean, and South Eastern USA.

Japanese Plum Tree Symbolism

If you are one of the people who attach a lot of meaning to the trees that they plant, you will love that the Loquat is very symbolic according to the natives. Japan and China are some of the leading producers of the Loquat, and, as expected, there is a heavy cultural significance that comes with the Japanese Plum Tree symbolism.

For example, the yellow or orange color of the fruits is symbolic of gold or wealth in China. This is why you will find it among the fruits that are presented in a bowl in regard to the ‘Five Prosperities’ or wishes.3

Ripe loquats on a bowl with a cup of tea beside it.

(Image: hiroaki17)

Apart from that, the fact that it flowers in autumn or winter before the fruits can start ripening in spring makes other cultures refer to it as a symbol of endurance.

Loquat Benefits

It is pretty exciting to know that the Loquat is not just a beautiful tree that bears tasty fruits, but it is also famed for having so many benefits that you will get to enjoy as an owner. Take a look at some of them:

  • The tree is one of the early fruiters, so you don’t have to wait until the season comes for you to enjoy the yummy treats. It ripens before other fruit trees and one advantage is that the fruits will easily escape the attack by fruit flies come fruit season.
  • A single cup of Loquats is sure to provide you with more than 60% of the daily recommended intake of vitamins, perfect if you want to boost your immunity.
  • Loquat is perfect for your health.10 The fibers in the fruits are exactly what you need for a healthy gut and better digestion while the high potassium content is vital for countering high blood pressure.
  • You can use the loquat fruits for various recipes, from jellies to cakes, scones, yogurt, toast, and so many more.

You can spot a loquat from a distance, with its showy, fragrant flowers and bright balls of clustered fruits.

There are so many reasons to plant this tree, and it is an endless list; you will just have to take the leap and find out. You will not regret investing your time and money in this tree that is known for its citrusy and savory fruits.

You will never get enough of them, whether growing them commercially or on a small scale.

There are so many things that you can do with the loquat fruits, from making jellies to delightful desserts.

Understanding how to identify and grow the Loquat tree can deliver yummy rewards.

Frequently Asked Questions About the Loquat Tree

What Is the Loquat Tree Size?

When in the wild and, of course, under exceptional circumstances, the Loquat Tree is able to reach an impressive 25-foot height. However, normally, the tree attains at least 10 feet in height and spread, although it can also be trained to grow dwarf in containers and indoors and grow way shorter than that.

Can You Keep a Loquat Tree Small?

Not everyone wants a giant towering tree in their home, so you can always train your Loquat to strictly grow in a confined space and retain that size forever. Here is where you will have to consider container planting and growing dwarf species, which are easier to care for and protect from harsh elements, pests, and diseases.

How Fast Does a Loquat Tree Grow?

The Loquat Tree is able to grow at a medium-fast rate; at least 6-12 inches in one year or sometimes more depending on how you planted it and whether the conditions are favorable or not. Regardless, the growth rate is rather impressive because the fruits start showing in as little as two years.

When Is the Loquat Season?

The Loquat season varies a little based on where it grows, but generally, the time when there are more loquats harvested in the country is the period between spring and summer, based on the time that most farmers planted their trees.


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16Photo by gi8mail. Pixabay. Retrieved from <https://pixabay.com/photos/big-loquat-loquat-leaves-rosaceae-1358230/>

17Loquat Photo by hiroaki / Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0) . Cropped, Resized and Changed Format. From Flickr <https://www.flickr.com/photos/hwat/19109505562/>

18Loquat Eriobotrya japonica, young plants grown from seed in a garden in Kluse Photo by Frank Vincentz / Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported (CC BY-SA 3.0). Cropped, Resized and Changed Format. From Wikimedia Commons <https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Kluse_-_Eriobotrya_japonica_-_Japanische_Wollmispel_02_ies.jpg>

19Níspero / Loquot Leaf Photo by Gabi Lamberti / Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0) . Cropped, Resized and Changed Format. From Flickr <https://www.flickr.com/photos/27025962@N00/44478007671/>

20Loquat (Eriobotrya japonica) Tree with Fruit Photo by carlfbagge / CC BY-SA 2.0 DEED | Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic. Cropped, Resized and Changed Format. From Flickr <https://www.flickr.com/photos/12535240@N05/21926457528/>

21Photo by Dx21. Pixabay. Retrieved from <https://pixabay.com/photos/loquats-fruits-harvest-nature-7228883/>

22Aphid on leaf Photo by WikiPedant at Wikimedia Commons / Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International (CC BY-SA 4.0). Cropped, Resized and Changed Format. From Wikimedia Commons <https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Aphid_on_leaf05.jpg>