If you live in Central Texas, you’ve probably seen a loquat tree. They’re usually smallish, fast-growing trees that have big, oblong glossy-yet-fuzzy leaves that stay on all year. They have a nice tropical look. PLUS! If the winter is a mild one, the loquat tree produces hundreds of sweet, yellow fruit that are great right off the tree, or in jams and desserts.
If you let a loquat grow without pruning, it’ll eventually reach a height of 20-30 feet, but it responds well to heavy pruning. In fact, you could probably grow them as a hedge instead of training them as trees – but I don’t know why you’d want to. With a little bit of occasional effort, they grow into really nice looking little trees.
I had a small loquat in our last yard that I bought when it was about three feet tall. It grew great with no problems for two years, then very suddenly (over a weekend!) died from fire blight. I was really disappointed. Happily, our neighbor’s tree was unaffected and last spring they let us have all the fruit hanging over on our side of the fence – which was a LOT.
I decided that since I have the perfect space for some loquats in the new yard that it was worth giving it another shot – especially when I saw the great price on them at Red Barn, our fabulous local nursery. Thanks to my sweet dad, who drove his truck into town and took me to get them, and my sweet husband, who I hope will plant the trees tomorrow while I run a debate tournament, I’m now the proud owner of these two beauties:
Can’t wait to get ’em in the ground, prune them into trees, and put some nice shade plants underneath.
Hooray for loquats!
Aside: While at Red Barn, my dad and I had a really strange, funny experience. A small Asian* woman in her sixties approached us while we were selecting our trees, and stood right next to me, shaking her head while clutching her tiny bougainvillea plant. I smiled but then sort of ignored her while discussing with my dad which ones looked the best. Finally, she couldn’t stand it anymore and told me I would not be buying the ones I was looking at because I needed to buy smaller trees. She indicated that she knew these trees because they originated where she was from and that they grew really fast, and that I couldn’t waste my money on the larger, more expensive ones because the small ones would be big soon. I HAD to buy the smaller one. She kept trying to lead me over to the trees that were about 3 feet tall. At first I was a little confused. I thought maybe she wanted to buy the smaller ones and that she thought my dad and I worked at the nursery and that we were morons or trying to swindle her into paying more. So I smiled and said no thanks, and made a point to start a conversation with my dad about where in MY yard these trees were going to go. It was super awkward. My dad had on his business face, which to me said, I hear what’s happening but I am pretending not to, so if you decide to talk to her it’s your problem. I didn’t blame him.
The lady wouldn’t let it drop, so I said, blah blah, the price difference was small and that I wanted privacy along my back fence etc., etc. The whole time I explained my wasteful ways to this stranger, I was berating myself: WHY ARE YOU EXPLAINING? But despite her judgmental aggression, she was ultimately trying to be helpful, and I have a hard time being rude to people like that. While this was happening, my dad loaded the trees on the wagon and we started walking. This woman was so hell-bent on saving me from myself that she followed behind us most of the way to the register, alternately muttering under her breath and telling me I had to put them back. I called a thank you back to her and kept going. After we checked out, I could see her wandering the place, single tiny plant in hand, probably looking for someone else to help. My dad and I giggled on the ride back to my house.
And I don’t feel a bit guiltree.
* I only mention her ethnicity because it seemed relevant, at first, to her stated qualifications with regard to loquat selection.