The Japanese Medlar (Eriobotrya japonica) belongs to the family of Rosaceae. This fruit tree with an exotic allure is commonly called loquat or bibacier (which can also be written bibassier). It sports a ornamental evergreen foliage strongly ribbed, covers from October to December with creamy white flowers with a sublime almond scent and whose shape is very original. After flowering, Japanese medlars or loquats (loquats) appear, edible fruits more or less juicy depending on the variety. We can therefore cultivate a Japanese Medlar as much for its many aesthetic advantages as for its good fruits. Let’s see when to plant this magnificent decorative fruit tree that can reach 5 meters in height as an adult, how to maintain it and take stock of its fruiting.
Plant a Japanese Loquat
The ideal time to plant a Japanese Loquat is between August 15 and September 15. At this time of year, the land is very hot and there is a lot of sunshine, which is quite beneficial. We use it isolated or in hedge. If you want to cultivate several Japanese Medlar trees, it is important to space them at least 4.50 meters apart because their wingspan after a few years is 4 to 5 meters.
Planting should only be done outside of very hot episodes and, of course, periods of frost. We proceed as follows:
- Dig a hole a little bigger than the root ball,
- Moisturize the root ball by letting it soak in water for about 60 minutes,
- Place a layer of gravel at the bottom of the planting hole to improve drainage,
- Place the shrub in the hole,
- Fill with well-amended garden soil,
It is possible to plant the Japanese medlar in pot. We then choose a large enough container that can be installed on the terrace, in the sun, sheltered from the wind. It is important to offer the potted bibacier a well-drained fertile substrate. For example, you can compose your mixture of 50% topsoil and 50% potting soil. Obviously, so that rain or watering water does not stagnate in the pot, it is necessary to place at the bottom of the container a drainage layer such as, for example, clay balls or gravel, which is then covered with a substrate.
Growing the Japanese medlar
The Japanese Medlar is a fast growing tree who likes them very sunny exposures, hot, not too confined but well sheltered from cold and prevailing winds. He tolerates everything soil type as long as it is draining.
His inflorescences (thyrses) follow one another from September for at least four weeks if it does not freeze because from -3 ° C, they no longer resist. In the southernmost regions, where the climate is particularly mild, you can enjoy the magnificent flower clusters Medlar until December or January, and also pollinating insects because they are full of nectar.
Caring for the Japanese Medlar
This decorative fruit tree is easy to maintain.
The Japanese medlar grown in the ground is very drought resistant once well rooted. If it is in a pot, it should be watered copiously once a week in the summer.
For stimulate the fruiting of bibacier, do not hesitate to add fertilizer for fruit trees in spring and autumn, and once a month for the Japanese medlar in pots.
The installation of a mulch is essential during the two or three winters which follow its plantation. A mulch consisting of good layer of dead leaves is perfect for protecting the foot of this young fruit tree against severe frost, which is a little less problematic in our southernmost regions. It can tolerate temperatures of the order of -10 ° C but only for a very short time. We must therefore anticipate.
It is better, in addition to the mulch, to lay a wintering veil around the Japanese Medlar to protect it from the cold. The subjects in the ferry reach the veranda as soon as the frost begins.
Parasites and diseases
The Japanese Medlar is not susceptible to parasites.
In terms of diseases, it is mainly affected by scab, which is particularly prevalent when the ambient humidity is high and the temperatures are quite cool, around 12 ° C. This fungal disease causes spots and blisters on the leaves or brownish spots on the fruits. It is advisable to treat with Bordeaux mixture which gives much better results in the case of scab than horsetail manure.
Fruiting of the Japanese Loquat
This beautiful tree cannot bear fruit only in the sunniest regions. And as soon as its flowers undergo a little frost, the fruiting body is seriously compromised. Of course, nothing prevents cultivating it as an ornamental tree because of its many aesthetic advantages if you live in a climatic zone that is not very suitable for bibacier, unless you cultivate it in a pot to be able to shelter it.
It is between April and June that the fruiting of the Japanese Medlar takes place, a variable period from one region to another since it is largely dependent on climatic conditions.
The Japanese Medlar produces fruits 3 to 6 cm in diameter, housing 1 to 4 cores. It exists different varieties of bibaciers : some give white flesh fruits, (Eriobotrya japonica ‘Champagne’), others produce fleshy lozenges with a particularly sweet flavor (Eriobotrya japonica ‘Plush’), still others are covered with dark yellow-orange fruits (Eriobotrya japonica ‘Early red’).
The fruits of the Japanese Medlar have more or less the appearance of a small apricot and their skin is extremely thin. Their juicy flesh is quite firm and deliciously sweet. They must be harvested as soon as they are ripe and with great care because they do not support delicate handling.
Loquat fruits should be eaten as soon as possible after picking because they keep very little time. Medlars can be eaten as they are or in juice, compote, jelly or jam, but again within a relatively short time. Note also that we use the bibacier leaves to prepare a delicious tea with antioxidant properties. This beautiful tree really has it all!