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A loquat tree with orange loquat fruit
A striking ornamental shade tree with unusual foliage and highly aromatic fruit, this subtropical tree performs well in most climates in a protected position. Growing in most areas of New Zealand, the broad spreading habit is a wonderful addition to the garden and a real talking point with friends.

 

What you need to know about loquats

Name: loquat, Japanese medlar, Eriobotrya japonica.

Plant type: evergreen.

Height: usually 5–7m, but can be 10m if left unpruned. Smaller varieties are available on grafted rootstocks.

Climate: prefers the subtropics but can be grown successfully in arid/semi-arid and warm temperate climates. Fruiting is greatly reduced in the tropics due to humidity and areas where temperatures drop below –2° Celsius.

Soil: prefers a well-drained soil enriched with organic matter such as compost and well-aged manure.

Position: full sun, protected from strong winds.

Foliage: long, narrow leaves, green on the upper side and downy underneath.

Flowering and fruiting: white flowers appearing in late autumn and winter, followed by yellow-orange round to oval shaped fruit in early spring.

Feeding: do not fertilise for the first couple of years, but once established, apply citrus fertiliser monthly, especially if you are hoping to harvest an abundant crop of fruit.

Watering: drought-resistant once established; water during fruit production.

Appearance and characteristics of loquat trees

An ornamental tree with a rounded habit and striking foliage, loquats are grown for their aesthetic value as much as their fruit. The foliage is long and narrow, green on the upper side and downy underneath. Panicles of white fluffy flowers are produced in autumn and winter, followed by yellow-orange round to oval shaped fruit in early spring. The fruit tastes like a mix of pineapple, passionfruit and guava.

Orange loquat fruit on a wooden board

Uses for loquats

Loquats can be planted as shade trees, screens or for their unusual fruit. The fruit is best eaten fresh from the tree, but can also be preserved, stewed or dried. There are many recipes that call for loquat fruit. The seeds can be roasted, ground and consumed infused with hot water, like coffee, while the leaves can be dried and used as a herbal tea. Select cultivars for improved fruiting and flavour.

How to plant and grow a loquat tree

  1. As loquat trees are shallow-rooted, choose a position that is protected from the wind.
  2. Do not fertilise at planting. Instead, enrich the soil with compost and dig a hole twice the size of your pot.
  3. Plant at the same height as it was in the pot, backfill and firm down the soil.
  4. Water to remove air pockets, and mulch to reduce weed growth.
  5. Water regularly during establishment, especially throughout flowering and fruiting. 

How often should you water and feed a loquat tree?

Water during dry weather in autumn and winter during flowering and fruiting. Spring water should be continued until after harvest.

Do not fertilise for the first few years as trees have shallow, sensitive roots. Instead, apply a mulch of compost annually for 2–3 years. After this, fertilise monthly with citrus food or follow the directions on the packet.

How and when to prune loquats

When training young trees, remove side branching up to 1m to improve overall shape. Once established, prune if required after harvest to maintain a compact habit. 

Diseases and pests of loquat trees

Queensland fruit fly is a real problem in some areas, especially as loquats start fruiting, so a loquat tree can become a host plant for fruit fly. Be vigilant and check your fruit. If fruit fly is found, remove fruit, gather fallen fruit and place all infected fruit in a plastic bag. Seal the bag and either freeze for two days or place in the sun for 7 days to kill the fruit fly maggots before disposing of the sealed bag and fruit in the rubbish bin. If you are in a fruit fly area, hang fruit fly traps around your garden and net developing fruit to prevent infection. Netting also helps with the other most common pests – birds!

How to propagate loquats

Loquats can be propagated by seed, but only if fruit is not required. If fruit is a desirable feature, buy a grafted loquat of a recognized fruiting cultivar.

Safety tip

If using products to deal with pests, diseases or weeds, always read the label, follow the instructions carefully and wear suitable protective equipment. Store all garden chemicals out of the reach of children and pets.

If you like this then try

Oranges: wonderful fruiting hedges for cold and warm climates.

Lemon verbena: a versatile perennial hedge and wonderful herbal infusion.

Lychee: another highly aromatic fruit tree suited to arid and semi-arid areas.

Start growing today

Check out our huge range of plants now and get your garden growing!

 

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Health & Safety

Please make sure you use all equipment appropriately and safely when following the advice in these D.I.Y. videos. You need to be familiar with how to use equipment safely and follow the instructions that came with the equipment. If you are unsure, you may feel it is safest to consult an expert, such as the manufacturer or an expert Bunnings Team Member.

Grave health hazards are linked to asbestos, which may be in homes built up to 1990. Health hazards may result from exposure to lead-based paints in older materials and copper chromium arsenic (CCA) treated timber. For information on the dangers of asbestos, lead-based paint and CCA treated timber and tips for dealing with these materials contact your local council's Environmental Health Officer. You can also use a simple test kit from Bunnings to indicate the presence of lead-based paint.