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How to Grow Ziziphus – Chinese Jujube 

Close-up of tree branches with fruits Zizyphus.

Ziziphus–commonly called Chinese jujube–is a deciduous small tree or shrub. It has a rounded habit and spiny gnarled somewhat pendulous branches. The glossy bright green leaves turn yellow in autumn.

Ziziphus bears clusters of small yellowish flowers in late spring. These are followed by shiny, reddish-brown fruit that are sweet and have an apple-like flavor. Candied and dried fruits resemble dates.

Ziziphus is a tough plant; it can withstand drought, heat, saline, and alkalines soil. It grows best in good garden soil and thrives in lawns.

Small Ziziphus tree loaded with fruit
Small Ziziphus tree loaded with fruit

Get to Know Ziziphus 

  • Plant type: Deciduous shrub or small tree 
  • Growing zones and range: Zones 6 to 9
  • Hardiness: Hardy to Zone 6
  • Height and width: To 15-25 (4-8m) feet tall 
  • Growth rate: Slow to moderate 
  • Form and habit: Weeping and rounded 
  • Foliage: Spiny, gnarled, somewhat pendulous branches; glossy, bright green, 1-2 inch (2-5cm) long leaves with prominent veins; foliage may turn yellow in autumn 
  • Flowers: Clusters of small yellowish flowers 
  • Fruits: Shiny, reddish brown, .5-2 inches (1-5cm) long fruits with a sweet, applelike flavor; fruits resemble dates 
  • Bloom time: Late spring or early summer 
  • Uses: Shrub, lawn, garden 
  • Garden companions:  
  • Common name: Chinese jujuba 
  • Botanical name: Ziziphus 
  • Family name: Rhamnaceae 
  • Origin: Southwestern Asia, Mediterranean, South America

Where to Plant Ziziphus 

  • Plant Ziziphus in full sun. 
  • Plant Ziziphus in good garden soil. 
  • Ziziphus withstands drought, heat, saline, or alkaline soils.  
  • Ziziphus does well where the growing season is long and hot.  

When to Plant Ziziphus 

  • Set container-grown Ziziphus in the garden in spring or autumn.
  • Sow seed in a container in a cold frame in autumn or spring.

Planting and Spacing Ziziphus 

  • Plant Ziziphus 15-20 feet (4-6m) apart. 
Ziziphus tree
Ziziphus tree, about 300 years old

How to Water and Feed Ziziphus 

  • Give Ziziphus moderate water. 
  • Feed Ziziphus with an all-purpose organic fertilizer in spring. 

How to Care for Ziziphus 

  • Prune Ziziphus in winter to shape, encourage weeping habit, or reduce size; old trees rarely require pruning.  

Ziziphus Pests and Diseases 

  • Leaf mining beetles can attack Ziziphus in its native regions.

Ziziphus Propagation 

  • Ziziphus can be propagated from softwood cuttings or grafts to rootstock.

Ziziphus Varieties to Grow 

  • Ziziphus jujuba, Jujube, Chinese date, not a true date tree, but bears 1-2 inch (2-5cm) fruit that look like dates and may be eaten fresh, dried and preserved. An 8-10 foot (2-3m) jujube reaches 15-20 feet (4-6m) with an equal spread in six to eight years, eventually becoming 15-25 feet (4-8m) tall. It has spiny zigzag branches lined with .8-2.5 inch (2-6cm) pest-resistant leaves, dark green above and pale green underneath, that cast a light filtered shade. In early summer new branches carry clusters of tiny yellow flowers, followed by fruit that ripen in late fall. This tree usually begins to bear fruit the first year it is set into the garden.  

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