How to Grow and Care for Loquat Trees

Eriobotrya japonica

As prized for its beauty as it is for its tasty offerings, loquat is unusual in that it flowers in the fall and produces fruit in late winter to early spring.

Native to China, carefully cultivated in Japan for a thousand years or more, and beloved in the American South, Eriobotrya japonica is an evergreen tree that can grow to 25 feet tall and spread 15 to 20 wide.

Also known as Japanese plum or Japanese medlar, loquat produces large, dark green leaves that are often used in floral arrangements.

Younger leaves are downy, whereas older leaves become more leathery.

Yellow-orange loquat plums growing on the tree.

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The tree produces clusters of 1-inch delicate flowers that produce a sweet, far-traveling fragrance. The flowers give way to round or pear-shaped yellow-orange fruits that are one to two inches long.

The yellow, orange, or white flesh of the fruit can be sweet or slightly acidic. Their sweet-tart flavor has been described variously as being similar to plum, lemon, apricot, cherry, grape, or some combination thereof.

My kids think they taste like a slightly sour plum. I detect a hint of cherry in their flavor, too.

A close up vertical image of a loquat tree with small yellow fruits developing, surrounded by foliage.

The fruit is delicious fresh, and that’s how our family enjoys it – straight off the tree. We usually don’t have the patience to wait for it to be cooked up!

But they are often preserved in jellies or jams, and we have occasionally had the patience to make a cobbler. One of our neighbors sometimes makes a pie with the gifts of his tree.

E. japonica is a member of the pome family and is a cousin of pears, apples, and quinces. Its produce is firm and juicy, and contains two or three large, dark brown seeds.

This bushy, dense tree does well in USDA Hardiness Zones 8-10. The tree can tolerate temperatures as low as 10°F, but freezes below 27°F can kill the flowers and fruit.

Are You Graft? Don’t Grow From Seed!

It’s unlikely you will be able to harvest a crop from a tree grown from a seed, at least not before about a decade of growth.

Your best bet is to purchase a grafted seedling, and you’ll see fruit after about three years.

Loquat Seedling

Paisley Farm and Crafts sells loose loquat seedlings with a full set of roots that are ready to be planted, available via Amazon.

You will receive thorough instructions with your purchase of the seedling, as well as contact information if you have further questions.

‘Big Jim’ is a well-liked cultivar for its generously sized produce.

‘Big Jim’ Loquat Grafted Tree, 3 Feet Tall

You can find this loquat variety from 9EzTropical, available via Amazon.

You’ll get a three-foot tree in a one-gallon pot. ‘Big Jim’ is known for having a mellow, less-acidic flavor.

Just About Anywhere Will Do

These trees grow best in full sun but will tolerate partial shade. We have one that somehow ended up as an understory tree beneath a live oak.

It’s not setting any growth records, and it hasn’t given us any tasty bits, but it’s healthy and adds a nice tropical look to the garden.

A close up vertical image of the foliage of a loquat tree growing in a garden with a fence in the background, pictured in light sunshine.
Photo by Gretchen Heber.

The trees aren’t particularly picky about their soil, as long as it drains well and isn’t saline.

On the Texas A&M University website, Texas Cooperative Extension horticulturist Julian W. Sauls, Ph.D. writes, “Soil pH does not seem to matter, as the trees grow equally well in the acid soils of east Texas and the alkaline soils of north, central, and south Texas.”

Other growers report having trouble getting the trees to do well in alkaline soil.

E. japonica is drought tolerant but will be more productive when it gets regular water.

The same goes for fertilizer. You can feed it nothing and it will do fine, but an application of 6-6-6 (NPK) fertilizer three times over the growing season will enable the tree to be more fruitful.

A close up vertical image of the long, dark green leaves of the Eriobotrya japonica tree growing in the garden in front of a wooden fence surrounded by mulch.
Photo by Gretchen Heber.

Prune only as needed to fit in your landscape, and remove deadwood as necessary.

Loquats are fairly pest free, but can be bothered by black scale.

A close up vertical image of the packaging of Bonide Neem Oil pictured on a white background.

Bonide Neem Oil

Blast these invaders off with water, or treat with neem oil such as this one from Bonide, available from Arbico Organics.

Savor the Flavor

Loquat fruit needs to ripen fully on the tree before you harvest it. The fruits are mature about 90 days after the flower is fully open.

You’ll know it’s harvest time when the fruit up near the stem is yellow-orange, with no green, and when it’s soft, and easily pulls off the stem.

A close up horizontal image of a large E. japonica tree laden with bright yellow fruit against a gray sky background.

You’ll want to harvest them as quickly as they are ready, because if they fall, they can be quite messy.

However, if your yard is home to squirrels or other critters, they’ll help you with cleanup.

Unfortunately, they’ll also help themselves to a good portion of on-the-tree produce, too. But E. japonica is so bountiful, there’s generally enough to go around.

They are most delicious when eaten or prepared right away, which is what happens in our house.

They’re gone within about 24 hours of harvest! Other gardeners have had success storing the ripe fruit in the refrigerator for up to a week.

The fruit doesn’t travel well or have a long shelf life, which is why it has not become a grocery store staple. Lucky Californians can sometimes find the yellow orbs in Asian groceries.

When you’ve made your harvest, it’s time to cook! Enjoy these recipes.

Loquat Freezer Jam

Loquats are high in natural pectin, so they are easy to preserve. You’ll store Gena Bell’s Loquat Freezer Jam in the freezer to keep it tasty.

A few simple ingredients, cold storage, and you’ll be able to enjoy loquats any time of year.

A close up horizontal image of glass jars filled with freshly prepared jam set on a wooden chopping board.
Photo © Live Love Laugh Food

Get the recipe from Live Love Laugh Food.

Loquat Apple Crumble

For a tasty and unusual dessert, consider this Delicious Loquat Apple Crumble recipe from Peter’s Food Adventures.

A close up horizontal image of a ceramic baking dish with a freshly prepared loquat apple crumble.
Photo © Peter’s Food Adventures

As members of the same family, apples and loquats get along well and pair perfectly in this easy-to-make dish.

Amy Finley’s Pickled Loquats

Amy Finley, winner of the third season of Food Network’s “The Next Food Network Star” cooking competition, shared this recipe with her friend Caron Golden of the website San Diego Foodstuff, and Golden shared it with us!

A close up horizontal image of two jars filled with pickled loquats set on a white surface.
Photo © San Diego Foodstuff

After you make the pickles, you’ll have to let them sit in the refrigerator for at least five days before digging in — seven if you can stand it!

Loquat Vinaigrette Dressing

This tasty dressing comes from a Charleston, South Carolina-based food blogger who specializes in paleo cooking.

A close up vertical image of a jar of salad dressing with salad greens and loquats scattered to the side and in the background.
Photo © Paleo Scaleo

Jessica recommends you use a high-quality olive oil in this dressing, which includes dijon mustard and oregano in addition to loquats.

Find the recipe from Paleo Scaleo.

Tropical Delight

If you live in a region where you can grow this spectacular tree, you’ll be rewarded with not only a lovely touch of the tropics, but also with an uncommon and delicious fruit.

A little sun or a lot of sun, pretty much any dirt, a little water or a lot of water — this tree is fairly easygoing. It just doesn’t like really cold temperatures. But really, who does?

Do you have E. japonica in your landscape? We’d love to hear your experiences — please share in the comments section below.

If you’re interested in more information about growing fruit trees, check out these guides next:

Photos by Gretchen Heber, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Product images via Paisley Farm and Crafts, 9EzTropical, and Garden Safe. Recipes photos used with permission. Uncredited photos: Shutterstock.

About Gretchen Heber

A former garden editor for a daily newspaper in Austin, Texas, Gretchen Heber goes through entirely too many pruners and garden gloves in a year’s time. She’s never met a succulent she didn’t like and gets really irritated every 3-4 years when Austin actually has a freeze cold enough to kill them. To Gretchen, nothing is more rewarding than a quick dash to the garden to pluck herbs to season the evening meal. And it’s definitely time for a happy dance when she’s able to beat the squirrels to the peaches, figs, or loquats.

53 thoughts on “How to Grow and Care for Loquat Trees”

  1. I live in the hill country, near Wimberley/Blanco and have two loquats that are about 5 feet tall and were completely munched by deer! One tree had all the leaves eaten, only a few stubs left. The other tree has only a few, small leaves remaining, as well as the first few blooms. Do you know if they will recover this spring?

    • I live is south Texas and have one loquat in a planter. It has yet to produce any fruit. It’s about 5 feet tall. Do I need a second one for pollination?

  2. Hi Eric and almost-neighbor! I’m so sorry I missed your comment until now. We don’t have a deer problem, but I spoke to an expert who said your loquat should recover. Has it started to releaf yet?

  3. Hey, very nice site. I came across this on Google, and I am stoked that I did. I will definitely be coming back here more often. Wish I could add to the conversation and bring a bit more to the table, but am just taking in as much info as I can at the moment. Thanks for sharing.

  4. We live in Southwest Florida and our tree is about 15 feet tall, thick and lush with leaves. It has never produced fruit. What should we do? Thanks.

    • Thanks for getting in touch, Becky. Many factors can contribute to whether or not your tree will produce fruit. Based on its size, this tree is presumably already more than 3 years old if you started with a grafted plant, or more than 10 years old if it was grown from seed. In SW Florida, cold temps overnight in winter should not be a significant factor- but keep in mind that extra cold and wet winters may result in little flowering and no fruit the following spring. Since the tree sounds healthy otherwise from your description, other conditions like availability of adequate light and watering are not likely culprits. You only mention the leaves, though- does this tree produce healthy and plentiful flowers in season? And do you know what cultivar you are growing?

      It sounds like the problem may lie with whether or not your tree is self-fertile or not. Some cultivars have both male and female flowers and may self-pollinate, while others do not. And even for those that are able to pollinate themselves, planting another tree of the same species nearby will help to increase yields. The presence of pollinators are also key to fruit production. We recommend planting flowers native or naturalized to your area that are known for attracting pollinating bees. In southern Florida, gaillardia, marigolds, coral honeysuckle, cannas, passion flowers, and salvia are a few favorites.

      If your tree is not flowering, it may be planted in the wrong location or in inadequate soil. Ensure adequate sunlight, well-draining non-alkaline soil, and provide weekly watering to promote fruit setting in season. Mulch around the tree to retain moisture (but apply it a good distance from the trunk itself, to prevent rot). Lush green leaves with few or no buds or fruit may mean your soil is too high in nitrogen, and/or lacking in phosphorus. Check out our articles on soil testing and plant nutrients for more information. And be sure to avoid overfertilizing as well- if you regularly fertilize without testing the soil, you may not be meeting the needs of your tree, and this can result in few blooms as well. Moving a tree of this size may not be an option, but testing and amending the soil may provide the fix that you’re looking for!

      Wishing you the best of luck- please get back in touch to let us know how it goes!

  5. I have grown three loquats from seed. They are in large pots and are about 5 feet tall now.
    I put them outside in summer and so far keep inside next to a floor to ceiling glass door.
    Question- Can they be planted outside in the Washington DC area? I also keep having small tears in leaves- not sure if it’s a bug (happens inside as well as outside) and if so, should I use anything beside insecticidal soap?

    • Loquats do best in warmer climates (USDA Hardiness Zones 8-10) and keeping them in pots is probably your best best in the DC area. Though they might survive temperatures below freezing in the winter, exposure to extreme cold will commonly cause a lack of flowers and fruit the next season.

      As for the tears- it’s hard to pinpoint exactly what this might be without more detail- do the tears result in the leaves turning brown and dropping off? When and where do you notice them? Any other issues with the plants? Please feel free to share more details and photos with us via email or our Facebook page, so we can help you to get to the bottom of this problem!

      • I am in Silver Spring, MD. Over the years I had loquats and they did produce fruit. I have one tree that has flowers. But it’s covered. Has a canvas tarp and then plastic, so gets water and sun from south. Last year it didn’t fruit but I didn’t lose any leaves either.

        • Hi Antonio — I’m in Baltimore, and I have been dying to find a source for some loquat fruit. Is your tree going to bear fruit this year? If so, would you possibly be willing to sell any of it?

  6. Hello! I live in central Florida and just bought a home with a very full tree. Unfortunately, we have not been able to use much of the fruit this year, so my question is what should be done wth the remaining fruit on the tree? Should it be picked clean? Or just leave it be and let nature take its course? I don’t want to jeopordize next years growth by leaving it on if that is a problem. If it needs to be removed, can the clusters be cut off or does the fruit need to be removed individually? We hope to be better prepared for it next year, Thanks for your direction, dave

    • Thanks for your question, Dave. Though letting nature take its course shouldn’t affect next year’s harvest, heavy fruit clusters can cause damage to the branches. In this way, this type of tree is actually “self pruning” and will maintain its own shape, but it’s advisable to remove heavy fruit clusters if you don’t want to risk breakage. Trimming off whole clusters of ripe fruit with clean clippers is the preferred harvesting method, and you will want to wait until the fruit is ripe because it will not continue to ripen after it’s been picked.

      If the remaining fruit is already overripe, you can dispose of it. But loquat is also wonderful for making into jam, if you have a lot that you need to use up!

  7. We have 4 loquats planted about 6’ apart and are about 4 years old. Three of the 4 look great. One has always been a bit smaller and this Summer is looking pretty sad. Leaves look wilted and almost dried out. What could be the problem?

    • Hi Pam! It’s difficult to diagnose remotely. You might want to cut off a small branch and take it to your local extension office.

  8. Aside from being a very good fruit; it is medicinal too. The fruit itself is great for your digestive system. I use the leaves to boil them and drink it like I would natural water or a hot tea. I prefer it hot like a tea and my husband drinks it cold like drinking water. However, it is a detoxifying drink for the liver and pancreas. So it does wonders for people who have diabetes. For myself I’ve notice it helped me with the inflammation I feel and see in my body. And my husband instead of taking the metaphormin pill – he drinks the loquat water. And his sugar levels are stable. It does wonders. Just be careful that you’re not allergic to the leaf. You tube it so u can see how u boil the loquat leaf. I love it.

  9. I have two loquat trees here in Valencia Spain and full of fruit every year. When I was first here my neighbor
    told me that to get the best fruit was to take off the fruit from each bunch when it starts to swell Leaving just two or three and the fruit will grow bigger.

  10. About 30 years ago or maybe more, I grew a nispero/loquat from a seed i brought back from Spain. The tree grew well but that was it; no sign of flower or fruit. The summer of 2018 was wonderful and maybe that was the reason but in late autumn it flowered and over the winter fruit developed. It wasn’t a bountiful crop but they fully ripened. Was it the summer? Was it climate change? We will see in years to come. It survived the -15 winter of 2010 unscathed so it’s a hardy plant.

  11. I purchased a home recently in Charleston SC that came with a very large Loquat tree on my patio. The tree is lovely BUT leaves keep falling (I need to blow off the patio daily) and I do not like the fruit which falls all around and leaves sticky seeds that imbed between the brick pavers, etc. Basic question: Is there a spray that I can use to prevent the tree from flowering and going to fruit? I know something is used on olive trees to prevent that – is there something I can use on my loquat?

    • Hi Orla; thanks for reading. Yes, you can spray hormonal fruit eliminator such as ethephon on your loquat tree to prevent flowering and fruiting. Check online or a garden store to find a product that contains this chemical. Florel is one, if I recall correctly.

  12. Hello: I am very interested about learning how to grow this tree. A friend of mine gave me one fruit and I loved it so much that I grew several small plants from it. I live in NC and is not cold yet but I am wondering if I should leave them in my porch during the winter. My spouse has cancer and I want to be able to grow this tree to use the mature leaves in tea. I need your help knowing when is the best time of the year to plant in my backyard. I read all your posts and it says to use the 6-6-6 fertilizer. When should I start using it? Thanks, Maria Orsini, Butner, NC

    • Hi Maria! Thanks for reading. You are lovely to want to make a tea for your spouse. Do you know for certain that variety of loquat will overwinter in your area? If your neighbor has a tree growing in his/her yard, you should be safe. Fall is definitely the best time to plant a tree, but don’t apply fertilizer until spring.

  13. Good Evening. What a great sight. So I live in San Antonio TX and in my subdivision EVERYBODY has one of these trees. They’re gorgeous. My home has none BUT I just purchased another home down the street as an investment home. It has 3 loquat trees! Super excited for March 2020! My question is, what is the safest and best time to trim? One of them is overwhelming and needs to be cut back some but I don’t want to harm the tree or make it ugly. Any help is appreciated. JVR

    • Thanks for your kind words, Jesus! We are practically neighbors — I’m in Austin! Yes, you can prune it… do it right now, before it gets cold (as if, right?) or wait til late winter. Use very sharp tools, and cut back to healthy wood just above a branch you want to keep. Also, of course, cut out any deadwood you come across.

  14. Hello Gretchen, I live in London UK, I grew a Loquat tree from seed around 40 years ago. I must have been about 10 when dad brought home a fruit which had an amazing looking seed inside it. I just popped it into the ground and over the years it just grew and grew! 10 years ago it looked amazing, but now the main trunk has a 60 degree angle and most of the foliage is now at the end of the branches. I just wanted to know how long these trees live for? Should I call in the tree surgeon and take my tree down? or if I lop off the long branches will foliage return? The tree is around 20-30ft tall. Thanks.

    • Hi Zia… First of all … LONDON! Love it; most awesome city ever! As for the loquat, it’s my understanding that these trees can live well over 100 years, so it’s probably not at the end of its natural life. It sounds like maybe some pruning might be in order. Cut off too-long branches just above a bud or a branch you want to keep.

  15. I have a problem with Squirrels, once the crop ripens they are right there and eat all of them. How can I stop the animals?

    • Al, thanks for reading. If we could figure out the squirrel problem, we’d be gazillionaires! These pesky little beasts eat my tomatoes, peaches, loquats…. argh! It’s difficult if not impossible to stop them. There are collars you can buy for your trees, and some recommend hot pepper spray. But honestly, I’ve not been able to get any of these things to work. I’m just resigned to giving a portion of my crops to critters. Sigh.

      • Hello Gretchen. I’ve been growing loquats for about 42 years just as a hobby. At my moms house she still has the original one I had started from seed 42 years ago and it is still going. From that one I’ve grown a couple more that I have in my own yard. From mine I’ve grown quite a few that I either sold or gave away. To help keep the birds and squirrels off some of the fruit I cover the bunches of fruit with a mesh netting. I take those bath scrunchies from the dollar store and untie them. When they are undone they are actually a long mesh tube. I cut them into 12” long sections and slip them over the bunches of loquats. It helps with the birds and squirrels. They still have access to the fruit at the top of the tree. Hope this helps you.

    • Hi Christine –
      The roots of the loquat may extend past the width of the tree, so from 10 to 25 feet. They are shallow and fragile.

    • Hello Dee –

      Yes. As a matter of fact, a shrub is much easier to harvest from than a tree. Prune during dormancy, when you can see the “bones” of your loquat. Be sure to cut branches just above a bud. By shaping the top and sides, you’ll have a compact form.

  16. We have planted in our greenhouse 2 loquats grown for seeds. They are quite big but they never flowered. We are living in South Dublin, Ireland. Do you think they will flower and produce fruit? Does one need a male and a female tree? Thank you so much.

    • Hi Daniele,

      When grown from seed, it can take the plants 6-10 years before they flower and fruit. Are your trees that old yet?

      In addition to this age requirement, there are some other factors that can get in the way of loquats producing fruit:

      – Some cultivars are self fertile and some are not. You may have self-fertile trees, or not – if grown from seed, this is unpredictable since loquats don’t grow true to type from seed.

      – Not enough sun. These will fruit better if given plenty of sunshine.

      – Too much nitrogen in your fertilizer will stimulate foliage growth instead of flowering.

      – Cold winter temperatures (below 28 to 30F / -2 to -1C). While the plant itself can survive down to 10F (-12C), since loquats produce flowers during fall and winter many growers have a hard time getting them to bear fruit in cooler climates.

      I hope this gives you some clues! Best of luck with your plants!

  17. I lived in North Florida, planted a loquat from seed, and a mere short 3 years later my tree already had its first crop of fruit. I’ve planted seedlings from its fruit that are 2 years old, so we’ll see if those fruit next year or the year after. I’ve even taken a cutting, and that is surviving thus far. A great tree from seed.

    • Oh Amber! It’s wonderful to hear of your loquat success. I’m glad yours fruited so quickly when you planted it from seed. That’s unexpected, but lovely!

  18. I have a loquat tree that I inherited… I believe my mother planted it because I know that she loved loquats. Thing is… the original tree died and was so dead that the tenant broke it off easily with his foot. But, a new tree has grown up from the roots. ???? It’s been growing for several years now but has not fruited, but it’s also been quite neglected. The original tree did bear fruit before it was broken off. This year, for the first time I planted squash and nasturtiums around it to remind me to water, because I’ve been trying to figure out what it is. (I’ve only recently realized what it is.) But will the squash and nasturtiums rob it of nutrients? Also wondering if I’m over-watering… It has plenty of sun. Do you think this “new” tree will take a long time to bear fruit, or can I hope it might bear sooner since it’s growing from old stock roots? I live on the northern California coast – 70 degrees is a heat wave but we don’t get very cold in the winter. Thanks for any advice. ????

    • Hello Diana! That’s a valuable inheritance, in my book. As for the fruiting, it may be too soon–it could take 6-10 years for a new tree grown from seed to produce fruit, and of course we have no idea whether it was originally a graft or planted from seed.

      There’s also a chance it’s not a self-fertile variety. Any idea if the old tree bore fruit?

      As for the watering, you do need to be careful not to give it too much if the soil isn’t well draining.

      The squash and nasturtiums nearby shouldn’t compete for water or nutrients, as long as you do keep all of them moderately moist and make sure the soil drains well. None of those three likes to stand in water!

      And you will want to rotate the squash out of that spot next year, or you could be facing not just depleted soil nutrients, but various diseases all cucurbits (including squash, cucumbers, and pumpkins) are prone to, including a few soil borne fungus.

      Good luck with your legacy loquat, and let us know how it goes.

  19. I grew a volunteer loquat in Riverside, CA (USDA zone 9, Sunset zone 18). It had been imprisoned in a large laurel hedge. Within a year of letting it out, it was spectacular. Beautiful tropical leaves and luscious fruit in abundance, even though its roots continued to battle it out with the much reduced laurel hedge. Named varieties are even better. I prefer Champaign and Gold Nugget.

    • Hello Mark! I’m so glad you freed that loquat and received the fruits of your labor (pun intended. I would love to know more about why you prefer ‘Champaign’ and ‘Gold Nugget’? Thanks for sharing your rescue story.

  20. I have a 4 ft. high young Loquat tree but after transplanting it, the leaves are turning brown. I am panicked here!! It is 5 feet from my stone wall and I am wondering if it needs shade sails. I am in south-central Arizona where it gets to 90 plus degrees in the spring. We are in April and it is in the 90s. I put potting soil around the root base and just transplanted it this week. HELP! It was doing awsome until I transplanted it this week.

    • Hello Wanita Panza!

      So sorry to hear your loquat transplant is stressed out. It wouldn’t hurt to shade it for right now, and also to go back and check that you have it planted in well-draining soil.

      If you confirm that it is in good soil, think back to what the root ball looked like when you planted it. Was the tap root overgrown and growing in a circle at the bottom of the container? That could spell trouble for its survival in the ground. If that is what happened, you might want to replant it, gently disentangling the root and cultivating the soil a bit deeper and wider.

      Also, give it a lot of water, maybe a half inch or so every other day for the first couple of weeks after transplanting. You’ll want to make sure it’s not getting too much water, and that the water drains, but the newbies do need supplemental water, particularly in dry spells.

      Please let us know if any of these tips help. If they don’t, we’ll try together to come up with a solution!

  21. I’m doing The Happy Dance.????????????… love loquats! Yummy! I’d love to learn to learn how to make me some loquacious jam! Also, other yummy recipes ♥️

    • Hello Rita A Huerta! I’m delighted by your happy dance. If you’ll scroll up the article to the section headlined “Savor the Flavors,” you’ll find directions for freezer jam, which I highly recommend.

      It’s so much simpler to prepare than a water bath canning version, and will stay good for six months to a year if you use freezer-safe containers and follow the directions carefully. Enjoy!


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