The Japanese medlar belongs to the pink family, to the apple subfamily. The Himalayas, Northern India and China are considered its homeland. It has been cultivated in Japan for a long time. Where did its name come from (should not be confused with Caucasian medlar, or Germanic).
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Eriobotria japonica, or Medlar, or Puddle, or Shesek (Eriobotrya japonica) – a small evergreen tree or shrub of the Pink family (Rosaceae). Ornamental and fruit plant.
The flowers of the medlar are bisexual, they are collected at the ends of shortened fruit branches in compressed short brushes 3-12 cm long, often 60-90 flowers on legs with white, cream, slightly wavy petals with a pubescent inner part. The aroma of medlar flowers resembles the smell of bitter almonds.
The fruits of the medlar are generally large, collected in dense clusters of 8-12 in each, with a juicy fragrant pulp covered with a dense skin. They are formed both by cross-pollination and by self-pollination. This property makes it possible to have fruiting specimens in the home garden.
Growing Japanese medlar at home
Unlike many subtropical fruit crops, medlar can be called a universal plant in terms of its ability to reproduce. Plants obtained by sowing seeds fully retain their maternal qualities, subject to agricultural technology, they enter the season of fruiting at home in the fourth or fifth year.
Therefore, it is better to select seeds from the largest fruits of high-yielding varieties. Seeds taken from fruits grown outdoors can also be used to propagate medlar indoors.
This will even help to select the best specimens for indoor spaces. It is advisable to take the seeds of the medlar fresh, although they retain their germination capacity for several months. They are well separated from the pulp, so there is no need for rinsing. Before sowing, medlar are advised to hold the seeds in a pink solution of potassium permanganate for a day.
Sowing Japanese medlar
The composition of the soil for germinating loquat seeds: 2 hours of leafy soil, 1 hour of high moor peat, 1 hour of river sand or 1 hour of sod land and 2 hours of leaf. The seeding depth is 2-4 cm. It is better to plant them one at a time in a pot with an upper diameter of 7-9 cm.
If the soil temperature is increased by 5..7 ° C, the germination will almost double. Young seedlings of medlar develop very quickly. One seed produces two seedlings.
After the seedlings of the medlar have formed two or three pairs of true leaves, you can start transplanting. Earthen mixture for seedlings of medlar (it is also suitable for rooted cuttings): 1 hour of sod land, 2 hours of leaf, 0,5 hours of river sand.
Sometimes, during seed reproduction, a loquat seedling branches out already at the stage of seedling emergence from the ground. And you must immediately decide: do you want to grow a bush-shaped plant, then you should not pinch the formed lateral shoots, or a tree with a high stem, then you need to remove these shoots immediately, without waiting for their lignification.
Propagation of Japanese medlar by cuttings
You can propagate medlar and vegetatively. Cuttings 12-15 cm long are cut from the branches of last year’s growth. The handle should have at least two well-developed buds. The leaves are shortened by half the length. The upper and lower cuts on the loquat handle should be horizontal. Calcined river sand serves as a rooting substrate.
So that the stalk of the medlar does not rot, before planting, the lower cut is covered with crushed charcoal. The stalk is planted strictly vertically to a depth of 2,5-3 cm in an ordinary ceramic pot. At the bottom of the drainage pot, ordinary clay shards are laid in a layer of 2 cm. After planting, it is poured abundantly with lukewarm, settled water. The moisture content of the cuttings will be preserved if you cover it with a plastic bag. If the substrate temperature is maintained at 25..27 ° C, then a rooted medlar seedling can be obtained in a month.
As soon as young roots appear, the plant can be transplanted. You can root cuttings of medlar in ordinary water. To do this, cut off semi-lignified branches 20-25 cm long from last year’s growth and, without shortening the leaves, put them in a bottle with settled water at room temperature on the windowsill. Here one indispensable condition must be met: the bottle must be sealed around the circumference with dark paper. In the dark, the roots of the medlar are formed faster, in 1,5-2 months. By this time they will be well developed, with a powerful lobe.
The soil for a medlar with a strong root system needs loose: 2 hours of leafy soil, 2 hours of high-moor peat, 1 hour of sand. A plant should not be planted in a coarser soil in order to avoid root rot. The planting method is usual. Once the plant is transplanted, it should be watered abundantly and covered with a plastic bag. After two weeks, the shelter can be removed. After each watering, the soil around the medlar seedling should be loosened.
Caring for Japanese medlar at home
During the active growing season, the medlar plant requires additional nutritional supplements. It is best to use an infusion of mullein diluted 1: 8 with water every two weeks. In winter, during a period of relative dormancy, it is not necessary to feed the plant.
Medlar is hygrophilous. Therefore, it is necessary that during growth the earthen lump is always moist. And only during the dormant period, light drying of the soil is allowed. It is better to water with settled water, the temperature of which is 3-4 ° C higher than room temperature. It is better to exclude spraying of the plant. The fact is that the leaves of the medlar are pubescent; with frequent spraying, the crown will lose its decorative effect. It is better to rinse it under the shower once a month. This will remove accumulated dust from the leaves.
It is necessary to transplant a plant at the age of 1 to 5 years annually, at a more mature age – after 3-4 years. Each spring, the topsoil should be changed down to the roots. The medlar is undemanding to the soil mixture. It thrives on heavy loamy soils and light sandy loamy soils. But the best results were obtained by growing adult specimens of medlar with the following soil composition: 4 hours of sod land, 2 hours of leaf, 1 hour of compost and 1 hour of sand.
To maintain a better pubescence of the underside of the leaves, which, as we have already said, gives this plant a decorative effect, I add a little crushed old plaster to the soil mixture.
In room conditions, the medlar is practically not affected by either pests or diseases.
Medlar grows better in good lighting. In direct sunlight, inflorescences are well laid. Southeast-facing windows are the most suitable for growing it.
In winter, medlar can be placed on an insulated balcony, where the temperature does not drop below minus 2 ° C. In this case, watering should be completely stopped. If it is not possible to keep the plant on the balcony, then it will overwinter well on the windowsill. In this case, watering should be reduced, but the earth should not completely dry out.
During the period of active growth of the medlar, the top layer of the soil should always be in a loose state. To do this, a day after each watering, it is necessary to loosen the top layer. For the summer, the medlar can be taken out on the balcony or in the garden. Keeping the plant outdoors promotes good growth.
Medlar does not need special pruning. It is only necessary to cut out dried and broken branches.
Indoors, with good content, the Japanese loquat begins to bear fruit at the age of 4 to 6 years. Unlike many subtropical crops, it blooms in autumn. Medlar blooms in October, and the first fruits ripen by mid-June. Tying them coincides with the time when there is not enough sunlight, so it is advisable to supplement the plants with fluorescent lamps of the LB-40 type, bringing the daylight hours to 12 hours. Two lamps are enough for one adult plant.
At the end of January, additional lighting of the medlar can be stopped. The varieties Champagne, Ta-naka and Thales have proven themselves well in enclosed spaces.
The decorativeness of the Japanese medlar, its comparative unpretentiousness, tasty fruits – everything speaks for the fact that it deserves wide distribution in room culture.