- The Essential Guide to Growing Victoria Plum Trees
- How to grow Victoria Plum trees – in a nutshell……
- Choice of growing methods
- Plum trees for small gardens
- Growing Plum trees in containers
- Further Cultivation Notes
- How to Plant a Flowering Plum Tree
- Growing Conditions For Plums: How To Take Care Of Plum Trees
- Growing Conditions for Plums
- How to Take Care of Plum Trees
- Plum Trees
- Abundant Plum Harvests, Hassle-Free
- What Makes Our Plum Trees the Best?
- How to Plant Plum Trees
- Care and Pruning Plum Trees
- Plum, One of The Easiest Fruit Trees to Grow in Your Backyard
- Plum Trees are Great for Beginners
- Espaliered Plums Save Space – Here’s How to Do It
- What Do Plums Taste Like?
- Do Plums Need a Pollinating Partner?
- High Density Fruit Planting – Plant 3 Varieties in 1 Hole
- What Are the Health Benefits of Plums?
- Planting a plum tree
- Pruning a plum tree
- Diseases and parasites that attack plum trees
- Harvesting and keeping plums
- Learn more about plum trees
- Smart tip about plum trees
The Essential Guide to Growing Victoria Plum Trees
Learn how to grow a delicious Victoria Plum tree in just 24” of garden space!
Victoria plum trees are avaailable for sale year round.
How to grow Victoria Plum trees – in a nutshell……
- For a dwarf Plum Tree – Pixy is a dwarf bush rootstock, space required approx 7′ wide and 8′ high, smaller when containerized.
- ‘St Julien’ makes a bigger orchard sized tree for grassy area etc, needing 10′ across, 12’+ high
- A supercolumn tree is a narrow space saving option for border, pots, etc, just 18″ across, 6-7′ high
- Victoria grows against any sunny warm wall as a fan, space required 6-8′ high & wide
- Victoria is self fertile so doesn’t need another Plum to crop
- Plant bare root October-April, or from pot-grown at other times
- Most well drained ordinary soils are suitable, in a sunny spot
- Smaller dwarfing trees can crop 1-2 years after planting, more vigorous stocks take longer – 3-4 years sometimes.
The divinely flavoured Victoria Plum is quite likely the most famous fruit tree ever raised, certainly for garden growing. Ask anyone to name a Plum tree and it will almost inevitably be a Victoria, brought to mind by that divinely sweet and succulent flavour and the distinctive rosy red over yellow flush. For over a century it has inspired devotion and love amongst gardeners, orchardists and foodies alike.
As a garden tree it has it’s advantages – and it’s disadvantages. It’s by no means a ‘prefect’ variety to grow but with some thought and planning it’s easy for anyone – no matter what gardening resources of knowledge you have – to grow a Victoria plum successfully. This article will take you through all the steps required to make the choice perfect for your garden.
First, make sure you have good soil. Plum trees can be fairly tolerant but the better the conditions to start with then the better the results will be. Ideally the soil should not have grown plum trees before. The soil should be fairly friable and well worked – dig it over 2 or 3 times, an area about 24 x 24” is sufficient and about 18” deep This gives you room to add some fertilizer to the mix – growmore is fine – and also some organic rich matter if you have any. Contents from a compost heap, or some ready-bought compost will be ideal. Make sure the soil is well drained – no Plum likes poor drainage in the winter – and choose a nice sunny spot to ripen those fruits to perfection in the Summertime.
Choose the sunniest spot you have and preferably sheltered too. Plum trees are hardy enough of course, but late frosts can spoil the flowers and reduce the yield, and strong winds too can dislodge burgeoning fruits before they are ready & even snap branchesd if they are heavy with fruit.
Choice of growing methods
There are actually several different ways in which you can grow a Victoria plum – surely something to suit everyone. Varying methods and tree shapes suit different applications.
Plum trees for small gardens
Choose the Pixy stock as mentioned before and grow as a small bush tree, or try the ‘column’ method, this fits very easilt into a garden border or container and casts little shade.
The Bush Tree
The most popular and recognizable – a ‘tree’ shaped tree that is sub divided into two forms – the vigorously growing tree and the dwarf tree.
Let’s start with a dwarf tree. A nice easy to manage smallish tree which can be kept to a minimum of 7-8’ – remember the spread of the tree will be the same as it’s height. To grow a dwarf Victoria plum tree you need to ensure the tree you buy in on Pixy stock. This ensures nice compact growth. A Victoria plum tree on the Pixy stock is ideal for smaller garden lawn or a border. It should be grown free standing and you can then grass beneath it, or even grow herbs, salads or smaller flowering plants. With this stock you can harvest all the fruits from the ground, no ladders required!
A more vigorously growing tree is known as St Julien stock. It’s more of a traditional tree that is used more often in orchards or the larger lawn. Crops are amongst the heaviest of all and it makes a grand tree to sit under too! It’s easy to grow and will reach 12’ or more – with a similar spread. So it’s not a tree for small areas but where there’s room it’s the best choice for productivity and ease of growth. You will need a ladder to pick all the fruits from a full grown tree ‘though.
Other even bigger stocks are available – such as the old ‘Brompton’ stock which is still to be found in very old orchards today. It makes a really big traditional tree, much too large for the average garden but still useful for big areas. It will reach 20’ or more – that’s a lot of Plum tree!
Growing Against a Wall
Fan training is a lovely way of growing Victoria plums if you have a nice South or west facing wall. It won’t do well on an East or North aspect because the fruit likes a lot of sun to ripen – under these conditions you get supremely sweet and flavoursome fruits and the tree crops well with the added protection from late frosts. You will need to fix 3 straining wires – rubber or plastic coated – one at about 18” and two more at 24” intervals, on which to tie the branches of your new tree.
You will need a space of not less than 7-8’ wide to fan train your Victoria plum, and about the same height. When buying your tree make sure you select one that is specifically described as being suitable to train, or tell the nursery what you are doing with it so that a tree suited to the purpose is provided. You can’t start with a normal bush tree because the lower branches you want will already have been removed.
It’s quite easy to fan train a Victoria – or any plum. A young tree is best to start with – cut the whole thing back in the winter to about 18” so you’re left with an umpromising stubby stick. From just below where you cut it off, later in the Spring, the two top-most buds will produce 2 strong new lateral branches. Tie them down horizontally to your supporting wires and remove anything else that forms during the summer. Those two branches will, most likely the next year, produce strong upright growths – and there you already have the makings of a ‘fan’ shape. You can then maintain the basic form from then on and remove any subsequent growth you don’t want, tying in that which you do.
Sometimes you can buy ready-fan trained trees but it’s better to train yourself in situ so the tree is adapted to it’s environment, it will look more natural. And it’s a lot cheaper too!
Column Victoria Plums
Quite a recent ‘invention’ is the narrow column style of tree that has been adapted for many different types of fruit variety. It suits Victoria plums perfectly. It’s the easiest method to prune and takes up the smallest amount of space by far so if you are short on space then this is the ideal option. You need just 24” to grow a column Plum tree. It also suits a container so really you’ve no excuse not to grow one! Who hasn’t got 24” in their plot somewhere, if the desire is there?
The only pruning necessary for column trees is to trim back all the side growths to about 6” in late Summer – that’s really it. The main central shoot at the top can be reduced in length each season if you want to, but you don’t have to. In this way you can keep the height to about 6-8’ maximum.
A Stepover Tree
This is a useful little tree to grow as a border edging because it only grows to 15-18” height. It spreads about 5’ by way of just two lateral branches – imagine a tree in the shape of a capital ‘T’ and that’s a stepover tree. It has in the past more normally been associated with apples and pears, but a Victoria Plum works fine in this way as well. Plant 5’ apart.
Growing Plum trees in containers
I would reckon about 50% of our sales of Victoria plum tree come from gardeners who want to container grow their tree. It’s perfectly feasible – just make sure you choose the Pixy stock described earlier in this article, it’s a nice compact tree that will adapt well to a pot. Or you can choose the column option instead which makes a nice symmetrical tree for a pot.
The Size of Container
Is of paramount importance; it needs to be big enough to take a well developed root-system but, oddly, very large containers can be as ill-suited as too-small ones. If too large the unused compost goes stale and stagnant. Anything between 24-30” is fine for a dwarf Plum tree like Victoria.
The planting medium should be a proprietary good quality potting compost or, preferred, a loam based compost.
The choice of tree is also vitally important because you won’t want to try and contain a vigorously growing tree in a container. The tree should always be on ‘Pixy’ stock, whether it is a bush, or a column type tree.
Regular watering is key to success. Little and often – try to water every day if possible, or give a good soaking every other day. Adequate irrigation will be necessary during the growing season, which is from April to September, the key periods for watering being when growth is most active, from May to July. Before and after this you will find the compost does not dry out quite so quickly and tree won’t be using so much. Especially when the nights are colder – in Spring and Autumn – it doesn’t lose moisture nearly so quickly. Watering during the Winter is largely unnecessary – because the tree isn’t using any water and because with the more reliable rain and the bare branches of the tree the compost should get a good regular soaking anyway. The only exception to this is the pot is in a very sheltered position, in a corner by a wall perhaps, somewhere that tends to escape rain falling, in which case keep an eye on it and give some water if it appears dry.
Remember the tree is relying on you totally for it’s needs as it is contained. Additional feed will ned to be given monthly if you are using a foliar feed, or quarterly for most granular fertilizers.
Further Cultivation Notes
Harvesting – the Victoria plum season
To savour the fruits at their absolute best it is essential to harvest at the optimum time. It can be tempting to pluck them from the tree too soon and sometimes they colour up and appear ripe when they actually aren’t. Two rules to follow – the fruit should have a little ‘give’ when gently felt. Secondly it should part readily from the tree without too much of a struggle. And the fist falling fruits from the boughs is also an indication of ripeness. You can seldom harvest all the fruit at the same time because it won’t all ripen at the same time! The fruit ripens in flushes, so be prepared to go over the tree two or three times at least.
Victoria’s natural season is late August and early September so that’s a good indication of when to pick – but an indication is all it can be since this can vary widely from one season to the next – depending on the whether – but also according to locality, local growing conditions and the manner in which the tree has been cultivated. A tree growing on a nice warm wall for example will inevitably be earlier than a traditional tree in an open position.
Pollination for Victoria Plums
Many Plum trees need partner varieties to fruit well but Victoria is self-compatible so you do not need other trees nearby to ensure a good crop. Which brings us to the benefits of…..
One of Victoria’s faults is it’s boom or bust philosophy to cropping. One year the boughs are weighted down with the abundance of crop and the next there’s nothing. Biennial cropping as it’s known is inherent in this variety. So, a year when a lot of fruit has been set requires some attention if you’re to avoid a fruiting drought the next. When the developing fruits are pea sized or a little more, go over the tree and remove by hand up to a quarter of them. The remaining fruits will be bigger and the tree will be much more likely to fruit properly the next season as a result. Try to be strong willed about this, it’s tempting to be lazy, or greedy, or both.
Victoria Plum tree problems and diseases
Victoria may suffer from the common Plum diseases just like any other. Silverleaf it is particularly prone to. The branches silver and die back; cut branches reveal a red inner ring which is typical of this disease which is relatively seldom seen – you would be unlucky to get it – but it is usually fatal. Trees with silverleaf are usually cut down and burned. Don’t confuse with common mildew – this fungal disease also manifests itself as silvered leaves but is treatable with a good broad spectrum fungicide.
By far the most common problem to afflict Plums is aphid and greenfly. You will soon notice these tiny insects as all the new shoots on your plum tree become curled and distorted, and may become streaked and yellowish. Relatively easy to combat with many proprietary insecticides available from a local outlet. If noticed early enough you can rub them off by hand Aphid and greenfly damage is usually the most noticeable in late Spring and early summer when the growth is at it’s most lush.
Pheromone traps can be effective against the moths, hang them on the tree in early Spring, at blossom time.
Frost Damage to Blossom
Many Plum trees full of blossom fail to yield, or yield poorly, when the period during flowering is frosty. This often happens, because flowering takes place quite early, late March sometimes even, or April. If your tree is a small one it’s worth considering draping some fleece or material over the tree during cold nights, to protect the flowers from frost damage. Be sure to remove the protective cover during the day time.
Pruning Victoria Plums
Strong growing young trees should have new upright growths cut back by one third in late summer. Growth that is lower down the main trunk should be removed clean at it’s base at the same time. Older trees should have dead or disease wood cut out whilst dormant and can be rejuvenated by selective harder pruning to promote new growth. Column trees may have the side laterals cut back to 2-3 bleaves in late summer, the leader may be cut back at this time also.
The Best plums to grow in the UK ….
Aside from Vcitoria which is a quintessential English variety, we really like Jubilee, Violetta, Czar, Marjories Seedling and Excaliber. Why not try Czar or Marjories Seedling to fruit early and later than the Victoria; you will then get a good spread season of fruits for many weeks.
How to Plant a Flowering Plum Tree
Flowering Tree image by Lidka from Fotolia.com
Flowering fruit trees add springtime color to any landscape where you plant them, and they are easy to plant and care for. Grown for ornamental purposes, flowering plum trees (Prunus cerasifera) have deep-purple leaves that are attractive in the garden even when the trees’ pink and white flowers are not in bloom. The flowering plum tree thrives in full sun in USDA Plant Hardiness Zones 4 through 9. It grows to 25 feet tall with a 25-foot spread, and it is a fairly fast grower. This tree produces small, edible fruit that ripen in late summer.
Plant your flowering plum tree in a sunny area in early spring or late winter. Dig a planting hole twice as large as your tree’s root ball, then mix the soil with compost or other organic matter, using 1 part compost to 4 parts soil.
Backfill your planting hole about half full with the soil/compost mixture you dug out.
Remove your young tree from its nursery pot and gently loosen the roots.
Set your tree into the planting hole, making sure it sits where the roots will be firmly underground and the base of the trunk will be above soil level. Be certain not to bury the grafted section of the trunk, which is often 3 to 4 inches above the root zone. Then fill the planting hole with the remainder of the soil/compost and gently tap it down around the trunk with your foot.
Water your flowering plum tree well by laying a hose at its base at a slow drip for one hour or longer. Water it again the same way several days after planting and check the soil moisture frequently during its first month in the ground. After that time, water it about once each week, using the slow-drip method.
Growing Conditions For Plums: How To Take Care Of Plum Trees
Plums are a delectable addition to any home garden. Growing plum trees is not only rewarding but also extremely tasty. Plums are excellent fresh but also make a wonderful jam or jelly. Keep reading for more information on how to grow a plum tree in your garden.
Growing Conditions for Plums
Growing plum trees is not too difficult as long as you give them what they need. Plums require full sun and well-drained, sandy soil in order to thrive. They prefer a soil with a pH that ranges from 5.5 to 6.5. It is always a good idea to have your soil tested before planting any fruit tree to be sure that they pH is appropriate. You should also work the appropriate amendments into your soil before planting.
When learning how to grow a plum tree, you should know that plums can belong to one of three groups: European, Japanese or Damson. Which group is best for you depends on your growing region and personal preference. Many of the European varieties are self-fruiting, which means that you only need to plant one tree in order to get fruit.
Their overall size may also need to be considered. Most plum trees will reach 16 feet at maturity or 14 feet if they are a dwarf variety.
If you live in a more northerly climate, you may consider planting your plum tree in a location where it will have protection from cold winds, as they are prone to late frost damage. Some homeowners even put little Christmas lights on their plum trees to keep them warm in early spring.
How to Take Care of Plum Trees
Care of plum trees is not difficult as long as you are consistent. Apply 1 pound of organic fertilizer or well-aged manure in March of the first and second year, in addition to one cup of calcium nitrate in May of the first and second year. After this time, you can add 2/3 cup of calcium nitrate in March and August.
Provide plenty of water for new trees and during times of dry weather. Place shredded bark or other mulch around the tree to help with water retention; however, be careful not to let it touch the trunk.
Regular pruning just above healthy buds, as well as the removal of dead wood, will encourage a bowl shape which will make fruit retrieval easy. For complete instructions on pruning a plum tree, you can also visit your local Cooperative Extension Office.
Abundant Plum Harvests, Hassle-Free
There’s nothing better than the sweet, succulent taste of a robust plum – except the taste of a delicious plum that’s home-grown. And with our Plum Trees, it’s possible. Imagine the promise of Plums, right from your backyard or garden. Because we offer an array of Plum Trees suited to nearly any location, soil type and more, it’s easy to grow your own at home.
What Makes Our Plum Trees the Best?
- Our Plum Trees are highly adaptable and versatile, making them a great value and ideal fit for nearly any landscape.
- A large, unique selection means you’ll have the right tree for your area – and bushels of fresh fruit without hassle.
- Because they’re grafted and grown from mature rootstock, our Plum Trees provide bigger, better results, making supermarket trips unnecessary.
- We ship our trees and plants fast, so Plum Trees of your own are just a click away.
How to Plant Plum Trees
The good news is that Plum Trees are super easy to plant and maintain, especially since we’ve grown and nurtured them long before they arrive to your door. Planting our Plum Trees means you get fresh, healthful fruit, without the hassle.
How to Care for Plum Trees
- When? Plant your Plum Trees during the dormant season, before new growth begins in late winter or early spring.
- Where? Choose a location with full sun and well-draining soil, in a hole large enough to accommodate the tree’s root ball. If possible, plant your tree in a southern or western location to cut back on wind exposure.
- How? Place your Plum Tree in a hole big enough to accommodate entire root ball, pack the soil tightly and water. It’s that simple.
Care and Pruning Plum Trees
Because we’ve grafted your tree from a specific “mother” variety, you can expect consistency and ease for the life of your Plum Tree. As a result of our hard work and meticulous care, you’ll get the same great-tasting fruit, season after season.
How to Prune Plum Trees and When to Prune Plum Trees?
It’s simple – we follow the four Ps: Planting, Pruning, Pollination, and Picking.
- Planting: After you’ve chosen a sunny locale, place your Plum Tree in a hole big enough to accommodate its entire root system (two or three times as wide as the root ball and just as deep), pack the soil tightly and water.
- Pruning: Give your Plum Tree a full year to acclimate to your landscape before pruning. Once you’re ready, prune your tree during the late winter or early spring, prior to new growth. Remove any broken or damaged limbs, with cuts at a 45-degree angle for best results.
- Pollination: Our Plum Trees are self-fertile; however, purchasing two or more Plum Trees ensures a dramatically-increased crop, longer growing season and more variety.
- Picking: For best taste, leave your plums on the tree to fully ripen before picking. Soft skin means plums are ready to pick and should come off easily with a slight twist.
Plum, One of The Easiest Fruit Trees to Grow in Your Backyard
People have loved Plums for a long time. Cultivated Plum tree varieties trace back to the beginning of human history, and Plum remains have been discovered in archeological sites back to the Stone Age.
The two primary varieties of plums that are most common in our diet today, Prunus domestica (European Plums) and the Prunus salicina (Japanese Plums) are not found in nature at all, but rather are a human creation. These varieties are the results of selective hybridization over the course of centuries.
Plum Trees are Great for Beginners
Because there are so many varieties available across a diverse set of climates and zones, growing Plum Trees are the ideal fruit for the beginning home gardener. Plum varieties like the American hybrids, Burbank, Superior and Toka have adapted to the coldest extremes of USDA Zone 4 and produce delicious fruit dependably.
The milder Zones of 10 and 11 have plum varieties like Santa Rosa and Burgundy that produce a wonderful crop of fruit year after year. The Methley Plum, one of the most versatile of all Plums, sets fruit in all zones 4 – 11. The majority of all Plums will grow successfully in zones 5- 9.
Plums are easy to care for and one of the easiest fruit varieties to prune to keep it small (called “size control”). These days, with smaller lot sizes, the need to prune your tree to keep it to a reasonable size is critical. Plums can be maintained to almost any height successfully.
Espaliered Plums Save Space – Here’s How to Do It
Plums lend themselves to a number of different pruning techniques. One popular method is espalier, which works for either the European or the Japanese plum types. Here, a tree is pruned and trained into a two-dimensional plant that grows flat against a trellis or fence. Usually, the tree is more productive when pruned into an informal, fan-shape – although espaliered trees can also be pruned into very decorative, geometric designs.
This pruning technique has been used for thousands of years. Espalier provides important benefits:
- Great for growing fruit in limited space
- Maximize otherwise wasted space, such as the edge or perimeter of a garden
- Easier harvest
- Easier to apply row crop covering fabric to protect the blooms from late rains or freezes or pest control.
Simply create a wired trellis at least 2 feet in front of an existing wall or fence. Then, plant the tree in front of the trellis, and work to prune it flat. You’ll tie the branches to the espalier in a fan shape, using garden twine or leather straps. What a convenient and pretty way to harvest your Plums!
What Do Plums Taste Like?
There are so many flavors displayed by the different Plum varieties. That’s one of the reasons they are such an exciting choice for the home garden. Each Plum provides an eating experience loved for generations around the world.
Flavors can range from the super-sweet, rich flavors of the Green Gage, Italian or French Improved Prune-plums; to the wonderful sweet-tart taste of a fully ripe Santa Rosa Plum; to the sweet smooth flavors of the Burgundy or the sensational Emerald Beaut Plum.
Do Plums Need a Pollinating Partner?
For the most part, Plums are self-fruitful and require no pollinizer to set fruit. But in almost all cases, another variety will help to increase your yield or ensure that you have production on the more challenging weather years.
Always consider ripening times when selecting pollinizers or additional varieties. Extend the harvest time by planting an early season, a mid- season and a late season selection. This will help increase yield and spread the joy of eating fresh fruit for up to 4 months.
High Density Fruit Planting – Plant 3 Varieties in 1 Hole
Are you limited on space? Consider planting multiple trees in one hole. By planting 3 trees in a triangle at least 24 inches apart, one can enjoy the fruit of 3 plum trees in the space of 1. The tree will grow into a single tree, with 3 trunks.
Of course, pruning for size control and to open the canopy for air circulation, is critical in this application, but that is easily mastered. Pruning can be a fun, meditative task.
High density planting works best when you select successive ripening varieties. Each works to pollinate the others, and you’ll have an easy harvest for months on end.
What Are the Health Benefits of Plums?
Plums are loaded with fiber, high in vitamins A, C and K and as fruits go, relatively low in natural sugar. Plums also have the health promoting flavonoid poly phenolic antioxidants such as lutein, cryptoxanthin, and zeaxanthin. They are also high in minerals. The plum is truly an all-round health food.
So if you are venturing into growing fruit in your yard, take a close look at the Plum varieties that are available on Nature Hills. They are an easy and productive choice to get you started on your backyard orchard. If you haven’t planted a Plum variety yet… well, what are you waiting for?
View all of our Plum varieties in stock now
If you love the juicy sweetness of plums, and the plum season doesn’t last nearly long enough for you, consider growing your own. When you couple the beauty of a plum tree with the delicious, healthy produce, you’ve got an all around win. And speaking of health, plums are chock full of nutrients. From fiber and antioxidants to Vitamin C, plums are an easy to grow super-food.
Plums are available in European and Japanese varieties. European varieties are generally freestone which means the flesh of the plum isn’t adhered to the pit. No one is certain where the European varieties originated, but they most likely appeared on the scene from Asia. The French are credited with ultimately introducing plum trees to North America.
Japanese varieties are clingstone, so the flesh is often firmly attached to the seed. Japanese varieties probably originated in an area of Asia near the Caspian Sea. Japanese plum trees are similar in size and shape to European trees.
The fruits of both European and Japanese varieties range in size, shape, color and flavor. They are delicious when eaten fresh. European varieties are sweeter and perfect for freezing, drying (prunes), and canning. Japanese variety plums make yummy jams and jellies.
European varieties are hardy throughout most of the United States. Japanese varieties grow more successfully in warmer regions where other fruit trees, like peach trees, grow. There are newer American varieties developed in the U.S. that are suited for other colder and more northerly regions, too.
How to Grow and Care for Plums
Once you’ve decided you have to grow plums of your very own, you’ll want to grow more than one tree. A few varieties of plum trees don’t require cross-pollination, but most do. All varieties will flourish in full sun. Plum trees love well drained soil, too. Provide a sunny location with loamy soil for a happy plum tree.
To plant your tree, dig a hole a few inches deeper and wider than the root ball. Use clean shears to cut any roots that have circled around the root ball. Center the root ball in the hole, and gently tug the roots outward before filling around the root ball with soil.
Water your new tree heavily throughout its first growing season to encourage the roots to develop deeply. After the first year, water your tree regularly at the base of the tree. And make sure your tree has plenty of room to mature. Space your trees about 25 feet apart. If you plant dwarf variety trees, allow them about 15 feet of space.
After the first year of fruit production, feed your trees with an organic fertilizer specially formulated for fruit trees. Ease off the feedings during the late fall and winter to discourage premature budding in the early spring.
Pick your plums when they are at their tastiest. Allow them to ripen on the tree. Gently squeeze your plums to test for softness. Ripe plums will be easy to twist off their branch.
Plum Pests, Diseases and Problems
As with all fruit trees, plum trees are susceptible to pests and fungal and bacterial infections. Consider preventative fungicides and insecticides to protect your tree before disease sets in. If infection occurs, try your best to identify the particular pest or problem your tree is fighting. Contact your local extension agency or nursery for specific formulas to treat the problem.
For optimal fruit production, place your fruit tree in a sheltered location out of the wind. Protect your tree from frosts when it has blossomed. If you’re faced with freezing temperatures and you’ve got a tree loaded with blossoms, string large bulb Christmas light strands throughout your tree to boost the temperatures around your blossoms a couple of degrees.
Plum Varieties to Consider
A European variety ‘Stanley’ is a hardy variety that can be grown throughout most of the cold, northerly regions in the U.S. It works as a stand-alone tree that does not require cross pollination that makes it a great choice for a home gardener. The plums from are delicious fresh and canned.
For a delicious Japanese variety try ‘Satsuma.’ ‘Satsuma’ produces large deep-colored fruit perfect for canning and eating fresh.
An American variety that combines the hardiness of the European varieties with the flavor of Japanese varieties is ‘Superior.’ ‘Superior’ is a great variety to plant in extreme locations.
Want to learn more about growing plums?
Check out these helpful resources:
The Holistic Orchard: Tree Fruits and Berries the Biological Way by Michael Phillips (Amazon affiliate link)
When plums are plum plentiful from University of Missouri Extension
Fruit Cultivars for Home Plantings
Please note that links to Amazon from Gardening Channel are affiliate links.
Plum trees are magnificent from spring to fall, and offer abundant harvests of plums.
Main Plum tree facts
Name – Prunus domestica
Family – Rosaceae
Type – fruit tree
Height – 16 to 20 feet (5 to 6 m)
Exposure – full sun
Soil – rich enough
Foliage – deciduous
Flowering – March-April
Harvest – July to September
Planting, pruning and care are important to avoid diseases and ensure that your plum trees develop well.
- Plums – health benefits and therapeutic properties of plums
- Plums – history, cultivation and how to cook them
Planting a plum tree
Favor planting in fall or in spring but avoid freezing temperatures.
Remember that for all fruit trees, the best period for planting is fall, because this season has the highest success rate for root development in spring.
- Plum trees prefer locations with a rather high exposure to sunlight to give good plums.
- Think ahead: your plum tree will grow to its adult size within a few years, and it needs space to grow.
- Over the first weeks, water regularly as long as it doesn’t freeze.
- It’s better to water during the day, since nights tend to be much cooler.
- To ensure good development for your plum tree, refer to our guidelines for planting.
Pruning a plum tree
For a plum tree, pruning fulfills two functions: caring for the tree itself, and enhancing fruit harvest.
General pruning principles
It’s recommended to prune only what is strictly necessary because plum trees are delicate and wounds make it vulnerable to diseases.
After each cut, apply pruning paste like pine tar to protect the wood from fungus and other diseases.
Nonetheless, you may perform directional pruning in the first year to shape the structure of the tree.
- Directional pruning is performed in winter but not during freezing weather.
- The goal here is to thin out the shoots from the trunk to end up with 3 or 4 main branches facing outwards.
- Like all pit trees, especially the cherry tree, pruning is performed at the end of the summer or in the beginning of fall.
After having harvested the plums
Maintenance pruning is performed in winter but not during freezing weather.
- Once you have harvested the plums, remove dead wood and fragile branches.
- Remove fruits that haven’t fallen from the tree – they are often diseased – and destroy them.
- Also, remove suckers, which are those shoots that emerge at the base of the tree. These suckers draw sap from the tree and will not produce any fruits.
After pruning, using pruning paste helps avoid infection due to fungus and diseases.
Diseases and parasites that attack plum trees
Plum trees, like most fruit trees, are vulnerable to multiple diseases and parasites.
Again, aphids are the plum tree’s most common enemy. Here is how to fight aphids efficiently.
As a deterrent, several organic treatments are available such as spraying fermented stinging nettle tea or fermented horsetail tea since both help reinforce the plum tree’s defense mechanisms and avoid certain types of fungus.
Also, if fungus such as plum rot (European brown rot) or rust appear, there are specific treatments that can be applied.
- Here is how to react in case of rotting fruit on the tree.
- Here is how to react in case of yellowing leaves that take on deep yellow or red-orange hues before falling off.
Harvesting and keeping plums
When purchasing plum trees, try to select varieties that are adapted to your local climate. This will guarantee that you will have a great harvest at the right time.
It is important to not let the fruit ripen for too long on the tree because it starts rotting and falls to the ground.
- The earliest plum varieties can be harvested at the beginning of summer. Among them is the Golden Japan, which many love for its delicious yellow flesh.
- Mid-early plums are harvested in August. Among these is the famed ‘True Reine-Claude’ greengage variety.
- Mid-late plums and late plums are harvested at the end of the summer. Within this group is the ‘Reine-Claude de Bavay’ greengage variety.
Sadly, it is very difficult to keep plums for very long. That’s why it is often recommended to eat them quickly.
- Shelf-life can be slightly extended by keeping the fruits in the refrigerator.
- Avoid handling them too much and don’t stack them since plums are very fragile.
Learn more about plum trees
Plum trees are fruit trees, and their fruits are both eaten fresh as plums or preserved in various manners such as jams, liquor, pastries or simply desiccated as dried prunes are, a specialty in the French region of Agen.
Plum trees are also grown as ornamental plants since their blooming is generous at the beginning of spring and their foliage stays appealing until the leaves fall off.
Fruit-bearing will be greatly enhanced if manure is added at the base of the tree in fall, and if fruit tree fertilizer is added in spring.
Which plum variety produces nice fruits
All plum trees, be they ‘Mirabelles’, ‘Damsons’, ‘Valor’, ‘Miraclaude’ or ‘Thames Cross’, give fleshy fruits with high vitamin C, calcium, and mineral content.
Yellow-orange ‘Mirabelles‘ stand out from blue-colored ‘Damsons‘. These varieties are often cooked for dessert.
The plum used to prepare the famed Agen dried prune is the ‘Prune d’Ente‘.
Mix different varieties in order to enhance pollination and hence productivity.
If you only plant one plum tree, choose a self-pollinating variety such as ‘Prune d’Ente’, ‘Mirabelles’ or ‘Damsons’.
Smart tip about plum trees
Mulch the foot of the trunk to avoid weeds, protect roots from the cold during winter and retain moisture in the summer.
Read more about insects and diseases that attack plum trees:
- Rust – brownish-orange lesions appear on the underside of leaves.
- Aphids – leaves lose their original color and curl themselves into tube shapes.
- Scab – brown spots appear on fruits and leaves.
- European brown rot – plums rot while still on the tree.