Chinese red dates, also known as jujubes, are an excellent addition to most backyard gardens, learn how to grow your own tree!
Grey planted our Chinese date tree, also known as jujube, about 5 years ago before I had any idea of what they even were. They are now a familiar and welcome part to our diet, since our trees produce so well. When I want to find the kids, I usually just need to check at whatever tree is currently in season. The fruit from the jujube trees are on it for a long time, so these trees are the kid’s hangout spot for about a month out of the year! If you are wondering what they are, Jujubes are a fruit that is used in traditional Chinese medicine. It is more commonly used in Chinese and Korean cooking.
They can be eaten fresh or dried. We usually eat them fresh, but also like to make things like red dates tea. The trees live for a REALLY long time and can grow 25-50 feet tall! Although most stay under 20 feet, especially when pruned.
Why you should grow Chinese red dates
Chinese red dates are good for you!
Chinese red dates have been used in traditional medicine for thousands of years. So far the health benefits we know about are:
- Jujubes have “anticancer, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-hyperlipidemic, anti-hyperglycemic, immunoregulatory, neuroprotective, sedative, and antiviral functions.”
- Jujubes have a lot of anti-oxidants, such as flavonoids. These help to delay or prevent cell damage from free radicals.
- These antioxidants may even help one sleep better!
- Thanks to its high fibre content, jujube can aid digestion and constipation.
- It is rich in Vitamin C, and may thus help your immune system
Chinese red dates thrive in hot, sunny weather
We live in a really hot and dry climate, so anytime a plant or tree does well in that environment, we plant it! Jujubes thankfully do really well if you live in place that is prone to drought, like us. They can even handle sporadic watering once established, and less than ideal soil conditions!
Chinese red dates tolerate more cold than many fruit trees
Along with thriving in warm climates, they are surprisingly pretty cold hardy. Jujube is hardy to minus 20 degrees or below!
Chinese red dates are beautiful landscaping trees
Jujubes make a gorgeous landscaping tree as well as an edible. Their leaves are an oval shape, with a pretty green color. We grow a contorted jujube which is especially interesting…with delicious fruit!
Jujube fruit hangs on the tree for a long time
Unlike stone fruit like peaches, plums, or nectarines, Chinese red dates hang on the tree for a long time. This is a positive attribute for us because there is not a rush. I can take my time harvesting the fruit to preserve or just for eating. Having good food out in the yard is just as beneficial as having it in the pantry!
Jujube trees are disease and insect problems are rare
These trees are very resistant to disease and and pests, making them ideal for the backyard garden. Any low maintenance plant it welcome at out home! Jujubes are one of the most low maintenance plant to grow…and plant! If you are ready to plant your own jujube tree, here’s what to do:
How to Grow Chinese red dates in zone 9
- Wait until Spring-jujubes do best when planted between early and late spring.
- Choose a spot that gets full sun
- Space trees at lease 10 feet apart, if you are planting more than one, (which we recommend for pollination)
- Prep your soil-although they are tolerant of almost any soil type (alkaline, acidic, compacted, and clay soils), they need good drainage. If your planted space is soggy, amend with organic matter, and build up a mound for good drainage.
- Don’t fertilize-wait until the following Spring to apply fertilizer such as organic compost tea.
- Water-after planting water jujubes every few days immediately after planting until the trees become established. Once the tree is established it can handle infrequent watering.
- That’s it! Now all there is to do is wait!
Most Common Varieties of Chinese Red Dates in zone 9
Although jujubes are self-pollinating, they’ll bear more fruit if you plant two trees. These are the most common varieties of Chinese red dates you can choose from:
- ‘Li’-Is considered one of the best varieties, ripening in late summer. It produces large fruit, ideal for fresh eating.
- ‘Lang’ This thornless tree produces large, pear-shaped fruit. Allow the fruit to fully color before picking for optimal flavor!
- ‘So’ These trees have a gorgeous zig zag pattern.
- ‘Sugar Cane’ is super thorny! However the fruit is extremely sweet.
Unlike some trees, jujubes do not have a complex system of pruning in order to bear fruit. However, if you want to improve the tree’s health it might be a good idea. In the winter, consider removing dead branches, as well as branches that grow straight up, or ones that rub against each other.
How to harvest Chinese red dates
These fruits are as easy as picking an apple. Unlike softer fruits like goji berries, or peaches there is no need to worry about bruising the fruit while picking. Simply pluck the fruit from the tree. If the fruit hangs too long it will start to wrinkle. They are still edible if wrinkled, but they are best for fresh eating when they are a deep brown relish color and smooth.
Growing Chinese Red dates FAQ
How long does it take for a jujube to produce fruit?
Jujubes will start producing in 3 or 4 years, and the production can be very heavy. They are ready when they start to change color from lime green to a rust color. For best flavor, pick fruit in the early morning. Using Jujubes: Jujubes can be eaten fresh or used in recipes where apples would be used.
How do you germinate Chinese date seeds?
Plant the seed in a small pot as deep as the seed is long or 1/4- to 1/2-inch deep. Cover with soil over the seed and lightly press down. Water the pot, and place it in a sunny location that is at least 65 to75 degrees Fahrenheit. Keep the pot evenly moist until germination.
Are jujubes hard to grow?
No! Jujubes are extremely easy to grow and maintain! They do well in hot, cold, and a variety of soil types. They even aren’t fussy about pruning. If you want a low macitence fruit tree, consider a jujube.
Can jujubes grow in pots?
Yes, like most fruit trees jujubes will grow in pots. Just don’t expect it to get as large as a tree that is planted in the ground.
What do jujubes taste like?
Jujubes taste a lot like sugar cane with the texture of the apple. Unlike apples, they don’t have a tone of aromatic notes. They just taste like sugar!