The medlar is not only a visual highlight in the garden due to its strikingly pretty tree blossom, it also produces small delicious fruits.© villorejo - Fotolia.com
The medlar is an old cultivated plant that has been cultivated for centuries because of its fruit. Nevertheless, the plant, also known as dehydrated strand, has almost been forgotten in our latitudes. In Roman times, the plant came to the south-west of Germany and was mainly found in monastery gardens. The small apple fruits harvested in autumn were often processed into jams and jellies. Recently, old types of fruit have come into focus again. The loquat not only deserves attention due to the fruits rich in vitamins and minerals, the pretty blossom is also reason enough to attach importance to the loquat as an ornamental plant. If you want to get to know the almost forgotten plant and cultivate it in your home garden, you will find everything you need to know at a glance.
The origin of the medlar
The natural range of the plants is suspected in the Caucasus, Greece or Bulgaria. The plant has been cultivated in the Orient for around 3,000 years. The medlar has also been cultivated in Africa, Australia, New Zealand or the USA for centuries. Introduced in Germany in Roman times, the plant was most widespread in the Middle Ages. At that time, medlars were found in almost every farm garden. Unfortunately, interest in the hard-working fruit supplier of yore has declined today. But it is definitely worthwhile to help this attractive and easy-care plant to achieve a renaissance in the orchard.
The appearance of the medlar
The medlar is a thorny and moderately branched deciduous shrub. The growth height of the rose family is about three meters. The young shoots are only wasted in the second year. Initially the shoots appear to be felty and hairy. The leaves are alternate and about ten centimeters long. While the top of the leaf appears shiny and dark green, the underside of the leaf has a gray-green color and appears hairy. A spreading tree crown characterizes the medlar. The growth habit often appears to be broad rather than upward. A flat but widely branched root system ensures that the plant is anchored in the ground. In October, the attractive, white to pink flowers reminiscent of the blossom of the apple tree are followed by brownish fruits. It is not without reason that these are called stone apples, because they are actually rock hard. The pulp becomes softer and therefore edible only if it is properly stored.
The medlar as an ideal garden plant
If you are looking for a plant for the East Garden that not everyone calls his own, the fruit loquat is the perfect candidate. Since the trees do not grow excessively high, the rather small home garden can also be enriched with them. The tree blossom is strikingly attractive and there are certainly uses for the autumn fruit harvest.
" Tip: The cotoneaster is a direct relative of the cotoneaster and can be planted as ground cover. Dwarf medlars bloom in May and show red fruits in late summer.
When does the medlar bloom?
The flowering of the medlar is an ornament, which is why it is worth buying. The white flowers are reminiscent of roses and appear around the same time as the pear blossom, around mid-May. The flowers reach heights of between three and five centimeters. The five fruit leaves have completely grown together with the flower cup. The stamens have reddish anthers.
Popular loquat species
|Dutch medlar large fruity||This kind promises you rich yields. The plant is very growth-friendly and the fruits are particularly aromatic. The striking leaves resemble those of laurel.|
|Loquat Royal||The cotoneaster Royal is also suitable for small gardens because it has a rather shrub-like habit. High yields also speak for this variety.|
|Hungarian medlar||Since this variety grows only weakly, it is also suitable for the small orchard. High yields can be expected. The harvest can start unusually early for medlars, namely in September.|
|Seedless medlar||The seedless fruits of this very productive variety are beneficial. The fruits are particularly aromatic, but remain rather small in growth.|
|Loquat Nottingham||This variety likes it a bit wetter. The fruits have a yellowish color and the usual dark flesh.|
|Loquat Macrocarpa||If you want to harvest particularly large fruits, you should choose this vigorous variety.|
Planting the medlar - tips and advice at a glance
As an easy to care for and robust plant, the loquat will delight the ambitious hobby gardener. Last but not least, you can count yourself lucky to have revived an old cultivated fruit. Those who are less concerned with fruit harvest will appreciate the medlar due to the attractive blossom and pretty foliage. Taking into account a few tips and advice, the plants will quickly settle into your garden and are guaranteed to feel good.
The loquat gladly accepts a place in the sun. Anyone hoping for a rich harvest of small apple fruits should in any case ensure a sunny spot so that the fruits can ripen well. Penumbra is usually tolerated. The lack of sunlight can, however, be detrimental to flowering and later fruits. A wind-protected location is also important.
The medlar does not place great demands on the substrate. A loose and deep soil offers good conditions. The plant cannot tolerate waterlogging, so the water should always drain off easily. Only a permeable floor can guarantee this.
" Tip: Whoever has the opportunity should determine the pH of the soil. A value of six to eight is considered optimal.
A fresh, sandy and loamy soil with good permeability is the ideal substrate. In the area of the tree grate, the substrate can be covered with mulch.
- best time - April to mid-May
- Loosen the soil
- Mix the substrate with sand or clay
- Select a planting hole at least twice the size of the root ball
- Lay drainage made of clay or gravel
- Carefully insert the plant into the planting hole
- fill with substrate
- Press on earth
- Water the sapling well
- Insert the post as a support
Taking into account the origin of the plant, it quickly becomes clear that the medlar loves warmth and light. If possible, the planting date should only be given when frost is no longer expected, ideally after the ice saints. Since the trees self-fertilize, it is not absolutely necessary to purchase another plant to start growing fruit. A deep loosening of the soil ensures that the plant grows well. The soil permeability can also be improved by a drainage made of clay or pebbles.
How to care for the medlar properly© hcast - Fotolia.com
The water requirement of the plant is rather moderate. However, young plants need regular watering. The use of calcareous water is good for the plants. Therefore, there is nothing against irrigation with tap water. Older plants only need additional watering during longer dry periods.
" Tip: Check the location regularly. Ideally, the floor is slightly damp.
Regular fertilization is not necessary for the medlar. It can do no harm to enrich the soil with compost before planting. Lime or horn shavings can be mixed in during the growth phase. These organic fertilizers are sufficient.
The small apple fruits can be harvested in autumn. Not doing this would be a waste because the fruits are rich in vitamin C and minerals. One should not be put off by the initially rock-hard fruits. Fruit ripens around October. However, harvesting takes place only when dark spots can be seen on the skin. Usually the first frosty nights are necessary. The flesh of the nut apple then turns brown and the flesh becomes softer.
" Tip: The fruits can also be harvested before the first frost and left in the open air until the first frosts.
Use the fruits sensibly
After a sufficient storage period, the fruits have a rather aromatic taste. The apples can be cut open. After removing the seeds, the pulp is cut up. If the fruit is already remarkably crumbly, the pulp can also be spooned out. Raw consumption is possible, but far more often the medlars are processed into mush, jelly or jam. In the Middle Ages, the production of wine and liqueurs was also popular.
" Tip: If you don't like the taste of the fruit, you can mix medlars with pears or apples, eat them as compotes or process them together.
❍ Cut back:
Young plants do not have to be cut yet. So that older plants keep their shape, a shape cut is recommended after winter rest. Scissors can also be used in autumn, namely when old and withered branches have to be removed. In order to keep an eye on the height of the plants, the trunk extension can be shortened in summer about 30 centimeters above the last branch fork.
" Tip: Loquat should not be cut back radically. This would lead to the fact that the plant does not develop fruits, because these form on the outermost drives.
Since the medlar is very sensitive to cutting measures, the cutting tool should always be sharp. This creates smooth cut surfaces that bleed less and also make the plant less susceptible to diseases and pests. In addition, it is advisable to use a wound closure agent.
This can be done in different ways. Generative reproduction prevails in nature. The seeds remain germinable for almost two years and are spread by birds, squirrels and other forest animals.
The passionate hobby gardener can use the following methods:
Propagation by cuttings
This is the simplest method of multiplying the medlar. If the plant is pruned in spring, the cuttings can be obtained. Annual shoots are used as cuttings. These should be cut about 15 to 20 centimeters long. Leaves are removed from the lower area of the cutting. The rooting can be done either in a water glass or in soil. The cuttings are watered evenly and can be planted outdoors in the following spring.
Propagation by sowing
If you want to dare to sow the seeds, you have to be patient. The seeds can be obtained directly from the inside of the ripe fruit. Around November the fruit should have reached the necessary ripeness. The seed can then also be removed more easily since the pulp has now become softer. The seeds are cleaned and can then be sown directly outdoors or grown in plant pots. These should then be placed on the terrace or balcony. The seeds do not germinate unless they have gone through a cold period. Patience is required, and germination can take up to two years. More years go by until the first fruits appear.
The multiplication through refinement
The multiplication of cultural forms mostly takes place via refinement. The finishing on a pear has proven itself. The fruit convinces even fruit connoisseurs. Refinement is also possible on hawthorn or quince.
Adult medlars come well without protection over the winter. This is surprising, since the plants actually come from warmer regions. But over the centuries, the medlar has adapted to our climatic conditions and usually copes well with temperatures down to -20 degrees.
Young plants are less robust. Winter protection is recommended here in the first two years. The roots are particularly sensitive. If the soil around the roots is covered with bark mulch or leaves, sufficient protection is also provided for young plants in the cold season.
Plants in a bucket also need protection. The keeping of the medlar in the bucket is rather unusual, but is quite possible with young plants. Container plants should be allowed to move to the stairwell if possible. A protective layer of garden fleece also protects against frost damage. Since the roots are particularly vulnerable, they should be specially protected. If the planter is placed on a styrofoam base, container plants also get through the winter well.
❍ Diseases and pests:
With the loquat you get a quite robust plant in the orchard. The wrong choice of location and waterlogging can lead to diseases.
The following damage can occur:
- Monilia rot
- fire blight
- Leaf spot
The Monilia rot
Monilia rot occurs as fruit rot and as branch rot. In addition to medlars, pears, cherries or apples are also affected. Injuries to the fruit clear the way for the fungus, which manifests itself through rotting stains and a moldy coating. If the fungus has attacked the branches and flowers, it only takes a few days until the leaves and flowers turn brown and dry up. The shoot tips can die down to a length of 30 centimeters, which results in an unsightly and bare tree top. The branch monilia is only rarely observed at Medlar. Cherries or apricots are far more susceptible.
What should I do?
All infected plant parts must be removed. A cut back must be made into the healthy wood. Plant protection products can only be used preventively during flowering. A direct fight against infestation is not possible.
The fire blight
If the Erwinia amylovora bacterium seizes the loquat, there is usually no salvation for the plant. There is also a danger to the rest of the orchard because the disease can spread rapidly. The greatest danger is for the flowers. The bacteria find their way into the plants via the flowers and spread to all other parts of the plant. The pathogens can also penetrate through wounds on the leaves and fruits and lead to the onset of the disease into autumn.
What should I do?
Sick shoots must be cut back into the healthy wood immediately. Diseased plants and parts of plants must not be put on the compost and must be disposed of in small quantities in the residual waste or shredded. All tools used must be disinfected with alcohol.
" Attention: If fire blight occurs on your plants, you must report this to the Plant Protection Office.
Leaf blotch disease
This fungus can occur especially in persistently damp weather. The leaves appear brownish when infected and get dark spots. These can spread to the entire leaf and lead to the death of the affected leaves.
What should I do?
If the infestation is noticed, action should be taken quickly. The leaves must be removed immediately and any leaves that have already fallen must be disposed of, as the fungus can spread further.
Young plants in particular are occasionally affected by aphids. This affects particularly weak plants that are in the wrong location or do not receive enough nutrients. If the plant is checked regularly, the aphids can be easily identified.
What should I do?
Aphids can usually be combated very well without the use of chemical pesticides. Spraying with a water jet or spraying with soapy water, garlic broth or nettle soy have proven themselves here.
The medlar as a bonsai
If you want to cultivate the medlar as bonsai, you should assign a sunny location to your plant. Watering is moderate. The floor should be dry until the next watering. The plants are easy to cut and larger leaves or long shoots can be removed at any time. It is advisable to work out an upright shape or a broom shape. The branches are flexible and easy to wire. The wire should not grow together and should be removed after about six months. Older and less flexible branches can be shaped with tension wires. The best time for this is spring, when plant sap flows through the branches again. Repot your bonsai every two to three years. The bonsai needs winter protection and should be set up frost-free.