Japanese plum tree pictures

Satsuma Plum Care: Learn About Japanese Plum Growing

Adaptable, reliable producers, compact in habit and minimally maintained compared to other fruit trees, plum trees are a welcome addition to the home garden. The most common variety grown worldwide is European plum, which is primarily turned into preserves and other cooked products. If you want a juicy plum to eat right off the tree, the choice is most likely a Satsuma Japanese plum tree.

Japanese Plum Information

Plums, Prunoideae, are a sub-member of the family Rosaceae, of which all stone fruits such as peach, cherry and apricot. As mentioned, Satsuma Japanese plum tree produces fruit that is most commonly eaten fresh. The fruit is larger, rounder and firmer than its European counterpart. Japanese plum trees are more delicate as well and require temperate conditions.

Japanese plums originated in China, not Japan, but were brought to the U.S. via Japan in the 1800’s. Juicier, but not quite as sweet as its European cousin, ‘Satsuma’ is a large, dark red, sweet plum prized for canning and eating right off the tree.

Japanese Plum Growing

Satsuma Japanese plums are fast growing, but not self fertile. You will need more than one Satsuma if you want them to bear fruit. Good choices for companion pollinating plum trees are, of course, another Satsuma or one of the following:

  • “Methley,” a sweet, red plum
  • “Shiro,” a large, sweet vibrantly yellow plum
  • “Toka,” a red hybrid plum

This plum varietal will reach a height of about 12 feet. One of the earliest blooming fruit trees, it flowers in late winter into the early spring with a multitude of aromatic, white blossoms. You will need to select a full sun area, which is large enough to accommodate two trees. Japanese plum trees are frost sensitive, so an area that lends them some protection is a good idea. Japanese plum growing is hardy to USDA growing zones 6-10.

How to Grow Satsuma Plums

Prepare your soil as soon as it is workable in the spring and amend it with plenty of organic compost. This will aid in drainage and add necessary nutrient into the soil. Dig a hole three times larger than the root ball of the tree. Space the two holes (you need two trees for pollination, remember) about 20 feet apart so they have room to spread.

Position the tree in the hole with the top of the graft union between 3-4 inches above ground level. Fill the hole in halfway with soil and water in. Finish filling in with soil. This will eliminate any air pockets around the root system. Mound the filled soil in around the top of the root ball and tamp down with your hands.

Water with a drip irrigation system which will ensure it gets a deep, thorough watering. One inch of water per week is sufficient in most weather; however, in warmer weather you will need to water more often.

In the spring, fertilize with a 10-10-10 food and then again in the early summer. Simply sprinkle a handful of fertilizer around the base of the plum and water in well.

Don’t go nuts on the pruning in the first couple of years. Allow the tree to reach its mature height. You may want to prune any branches that cross in the middle or grow straight through the center of the tree to increase aeration, which allows for better fruit set as well as easier picking.


Originally introduced from China, the Japanese plum (”~, ume; sometimes referred to as Japanese apricot) has played an important role in Japanese culture for many centuries. Its popularity was eventually surpassed by that of the cherry tree.

The plum is associated with the start of spring, because plum blossoms are some of the first blossoms to open during the year. In most areas of Japan, including Tokyo, they typically flower in February and March. The event is celebrated with plum festivals (ume matsuri) in public parks, shrines and temples across the country.

Like cherry trees, plum trees come in many varieties, many of which were cultivated by humans over the centuries. Most plum blossoms have five petals and range in color from white to dark pink. Some varieties with more than five petals (yae-ume) and weeping branches (shidare-ume) have also been cultivated. Unlike cherry blossoms, plum blossoms have a strong, sweet fragrance.


The actual ume fruit is more sour than the Western plum or apricot and is usually processed in various ways before eaten. The most popular processed form is the umeboshi, a sour, pickled plum, which is usually enjoyed with cooked rice. Umeboshi is one of the most typical Japanese flavors. Umeshu, a sweet alcoholic beverage made of plums, is also popular.

Some popular plum spots in and around Tokyo

Mito Station, JR Joban Line Ranked as one of Japan’s three finest landscape gardens, Kairakuen in Mito, about 100 kilometers north of Tokyo, features over 3000 plum trees of 100 varieties. A plum festival is held from February 15 to March 29, 2020.

Koishikawa Korakuen

Korakuen Station, Marunouchi Subway Line Koishikawa Korakuen is a Japanese landscape garden in central Tokyo that features a small grove of plum trees. It used to be the site of a Tokyo residence of the feudal lords of Mito, the city where Kairakuen (see above) is located. A plum festival is held from February 7 to March 1, 2020.

Yushima Tenjin Shrine

Yushima Station, Chiyoda Subway Line Located not far from Ueno Park, Yushima Tenjin is a popular shrine among students who wish to pass entrance exams. A plum festival is held annually from February 8 to March 8, with various events on weekends and holidays.

Hanegi Park

Umegaoka Station, Odakyu Line A short train ride outside of central Tokyo, Hanegi Park is a small public city park with about 700 plum trees of many varieties. The Setagaya Ume Matsuri is celebrated here on weekends and holidays from February 8 to March 1, 2020.

Some popular plum spots in and around Kyoto

Kitano Tenmangu Shrine

Short walk from Kitanohakubaicho Station The foremost shrine devoted to Tenjin in Kyoto, Kitano Tenmangu has about 2000 plum trees in its garden. A special tea ceremony (Baikasai) is held in the garden on February 25.

Umenomiya Taisha

15 minute walk from Matsuo Taisha Station on the Hankyu Arashiyama Line Plum blossoms are one of the symbols of Umenomiya Taisha, and the pleasant paid garden at the back of the shrine boasts a plum grove at its western end. There are about 450 plum trees of around 35 different varieties in the garden.

Kyoto Imperial Park

Short walk from Marutamachi Station The Kyoto Imperial Park is an attractive park in the center of Kyoto that encompasses the Kyoto Imperial Palace and the Sento Imperial Palace in addition to other attractions. About 200 plum trees can be found in the southwestern end of the park.

Some popular plum spots in and around Osaka

Osaka Castle Park

Short walk from Osakajokoen Station Located on the eastern end of Osaka Castle Park between the inner and outer moats, the spacious plum grove at Osaka Castle offers almost 1300 plum trees of over 100 varieties. It takes at least 20 minutes to walk through the entire grove.

Osaka Expo ’70 Park

10 minute walk from Bampakukinenkoen Station The large public Expo ’70 Commemorative Park offers two areas to see plum blossoms. The main spot is west of the Tower of the Sun and main entrance, and offers around 600 plum trees of about 120 varieties. The second and smaller spot is located in the Japanese landscape garden at the northern end of the park with about 80 trees of 40 varieties. A plum festival is held from February 15 to March 15, 2020.

Other famous plum spots

Dazaifu Tenmangu Shrine

5 minute walk from Dazaifu Station The most important of all Tenjin Shrines, the Dazaifu Tenmangu Shrine, is located in Dazaifu near Fukuoka on Kyushu Island. About 6000 plum trees can be found on its grounds.

Nara Park

15-20 minute walk from Kintetsu Nara Station The Kataoka Plum Grove in Nara Park is located in the quieter southwestern end, not far from the Nara National Museum. About 250 plum trees can be found in that area.

Naritasan Park

15-20 minute walk from JR Narita or Keisei Narita stations There are two plum groves in the pleasant Naritasan Park, one not far from the main hall of Naritasan Temple at the entrance of the park, the other at the base of the Great Pagoda of Peace. Together they have almost 500 plum trees making a walk through the park even more enjoyable when the flowers are in bloom.

Satsuma Japanese Plum Tree

One of the best Japanese Plums, Satsuma Japanese Plum Tree features delicious, large, round, dark fruit. Great for fresh eating and preserves. Satsuma fruit is firm, juicy, and red to the core. Pollinate with other Japanese variety.

Latin Name: Prunus cerasifera
Site and Soil: Plums like 1/2 day to full sun and well-drained soil.
RootstockDescription: A semi-dwarf rootstock for Plums and other stone fruits, Marianna produces trees 10′-12′ in height or less.
Pollination Requirements: Plant Satsuma Japanese Plum Tree with another Japanese Plum variety for cross-pollination.
Hardiness:Plums are hardy to minus 30°F.
Bearing Age: 2-3 years after planting
Size at Maturity: 10-12 ft. in height
Bloom Time: March
Ripening Time: August
Yield: 30+ lbs.
Pests & Diseases: Our plums are not bothered by pests. Bacterial Canker can occasionally damage trunks or branches. Symptoms of this disease are exudations of amber-colored sap. Spraying with copper in the fall and early spring can help control Bacterial Canker.
USDA Zone: 4
Sunset Western Zone: 2-12, 14-18
Sunset Northeast Zone: Not stated

Methley PlumPrunus salicina

A cultivar of Japanese plum, Methley is a small, upright, spreading tree. Japanese plum trees have a rougher bark and more persistant spurs than European plums. They also are more vigorous, disease resistant, and produce more flowers. They tolerate heat and need only a short period of winter dormancy. The early bloom time makes them susceptible to late spring frosts. The foliage is bright green. The white flowers are borne mostly in umbel-like clusters of 2-3 on short spurs, and solitary or 2-3 in axils of 1-yr-old wood. Blooms appear as early as February covered in snow. Fruiting begins in 2-4 years. Methley plum produces heavy, annual crops of juicy, sweet, red purple fruit that ripens from late May to early July. One crop requires several pickings. Japanese plums can be picked before they are completely ripe, since they will finish ripening off the tree. Methley is self fertile and serves as a good pollinator for early bearing Japanese varieties. Japanese and European plums cannot cross-pollinate each other, because they have different numbers of chromosomes. The growth rate is 15-20 inches per year. Plums require minimal pruning which should be done after flowering when the tree is still leafless. In the formative years, pruning can be to remove interior branches, water sprouts, growing scaffold branches, and dead, damaged, or diseased wood. In maturity, vigorous upright shoots are removed as fruiting increasingly occurs on spurs on older wood. Japanese plums do best when trained to an open center and need thinning for proper fruit development. (zones 5-9)

Prunus salicina
(Japanese plum)

List of Pests

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Major host of:

Alternaria alternata (alternaria leaf spot); American plum line pattern virus (American line pattern of plum); Amphitetranychus viennensis (hawthorn (spider) mite); Anarsia lineatella (peach twig borer); Aphis gossypii (cotton aphid); Apiosporina morbosa (black knot); Apple chlorotic leaf spot virus (apricot butteratura); Apple mosaic virus (chestnut mosaic); Apricot ring pox and cherry twisted leaf diseases (ring pox disease of apricot); Armillaria heimii (armillaria root rot); Armillaria mellea (armillaria root rot); Armillaria tabescens (armillaria root rot); Aromia bungii (red necked longicorn); Aspergillus chevalieri; Aspergillus niger (black mould of onion); Bactrocera dorsalis (Oriental fruit fly); Blumeriella jaapii (cherry leaf spot); Botryotinia fuckeliana (grey mould-rot); Brachycaudus helichrysi (leaf-curling plum aphid); Ceratitis capitata (Mediterranean fruit fly); Chalara elegans (black root rot); Colletotrichum acutatum (black spot of strawberry); Conotrachelus nenuphar (plum curculio); Erwinia amylovora (fireblight); Eulecanium tiliae (nut scale); Glomerella cingulata (anthracnose); Homalodisca vitripennis (glassy winged sharpshooter); Hop stunt viroid (hop stunt viroid); Hoplocampa flava (plum, sawfly); Hyalopterus pruni (mealy plum aphid); Macroposthonia xenoplax; Meloidogyne incognita (root-knot nematode); Meloidogyne javanica (sugarcane eelworm); Monilinia fructicola (brown rot); Monilinia fructigena (brown rot); Murgantia histrionica (harlequin bug); Pandemis cerasana (common twist moth); Panonychus ulmi (European red spider mite); Parlatoria oleae (olive scale); Peach mosaic virus (american mosaic of peach); Peach rosette mosaic virus (rosette mosaic of peach); peach rosette phytoplasma (peach rosette phytoplasma); Penicillium digitatum (green mould); Phoma pomorum (leaf spot: apple); Phytophthora cactorum (apple collar rot); Phytophthora cambivora (root rot of forest trees); Phytophthora cinnamomi (Phytophthora dieback); Phytophthora cryptogea (tomato foot rot); Phytophthora drechsleri (watermelon fruit rot); Phytophthora megasperma (root rot); Phytophthora syringae (twig blight of lilac); Phytoplasma mali (apple proliferation); Phytoplasma pruni (peach X-disease); Phytoplasma prunorum (apricot chlorotic leafroll); Plum pox virus (sharka); Podosphaera clandestina var. clandestina (powdery mildew of cherry); Podosphaera pannosa (powdery mildew of rose); Pratylenchus penetrans (nematode, northern root lesion); Pratylenchus pratensis; Prune dwarf virus (cherry ring mottle); Prunus necrotic ringspot virus (almond bud failure); Pseudaulacaspis pentagona (mulberry scale); Pseudomonas syringae (bacterial blast); Pseudomonas syringae pv. morsprunorum (bacterial canker of stone fruits); Pseudomonas syringae pv. syringae (bacterial canker or blast (stone and pome fruits)); Pterochloroides persicae (peach black aphid); Rhizobium radiobacter (crown gall); Rhizobium rhizogenes (gall); Rosellinia necatrix (dematophora root rot); Sphaerolecanium prunastri (plum scale); Stigmina carpophila (gumspot of stone fruit); Taphrina pruni (bladder plums); Tetranychus pacificus (Pacific spider mite); Tetranychus urticae (two-spotted spider mite); Tomato ringspot virus (ringspot of tomato); Tranzschelia pruni-spinosae var. discolor (rust: peach); Venturia carpophila (almond scab); Verticillium dahliae (verticillium wilt); Xanthomonas arboricola pv. pruni (bacterial canker of stone fruit); Xiphinema americanum (dagger nematode); Xyleborinus saxesenii (fruit-tree pinhole borer); Xylella fastidiosa (Pierce’s disease of grapevines)

Minor host of:

Aculus fockeui (plum rust mite); Adoxophyes orana (summer fruit tortrix); Agriopis bajaria; Agrotis ipsilon (black cutworm); Anastrepha obliqua (West Indian fruit fly); Anastrepha suspensa (Caribbean fruit fly); Aphis spiraecola (Spirea aphid); Aporia crataegi (black-veined white); Arabis mosaic virus (hop bare-bine); Archips fuscocupreanus; Archips podanus (great brown twist moth); Archips rosana (European leaf roller); Aspergillus flavus (Aspergillus ear rot); Aspergillus fumigatus; Aspergillus japonicus; Aspergillus terreus; Asymmetrasca decedens; Bactrocera neohumeralis; Bactrocera tryoni (Queensland fruit fly); Balclutha rosea; Bifiditermes beesoni; Biston suppressaria (tea looper); Brachycaudus persicae (black peach aphid); Bryobia rubrioculus (brown apple mite); Byctiscus betulae (hazel leaf roller); Caliroa cerasi (pear and cherry slugworm); Candidatus Phytoplasma asteris (yellow disease phytoplasmas); Capnodis tenebrionis (capnodis, peach); Carnation ringspot virus; Carpophilus hemipterus (dried fruit beetle); Carposina sasakii (peach fruit moth); Ceratitis rosa (Natal fruit fly); Ceresa bubalus (buffalo treehopper); Ceroplastes rubens (red wax scale); Cherry virus A; Chinavia hilaris (green stink bug); Chlorotettix minimus; Colletotrichum fioriniae; Colletotrichum siamense; Cossus cossus (carpenter moth); Cydia pomonella (codling moth); Deois flavopicta (demerara, froghopper); Diaspidiotus ostreaeformis (pear oyster scale); Diaspidiotus perniciosus (San José scale); Digitaria insularis (sourgrass); Enarmonia formosana (bark tortrix); Encarsia perniciosi; Eotetranychus pruni; Epidiaspis leperii (European pear scale); Erannis defoliaria (mottled umber moth); Eriogaster lanestris (egger, moth, small); Eudocima fullonia (fruit-piercing moth); Eupoecilia ambiguella (grapevine moth); Euproctis chrysorrhoea (brown-tail moth); Eutypa lata (Eutypa dieback); Exitianus obscurinervis; Fomitopsis pinicola (brown crumbly rot); Frankliniella occidentalis (western flower thrips); Ganoderma lucidum (basal stem rot: Hevea spp.); Grapholita funebrana (red plum maggot); Grapholita molesta (Oriental fruit moth); Grapholita packardi (cherry fruitworm); Grapholita prunivora (plum moth); Helicotylenchus dihystera (common spiral nematode); Heterobasidion annosum; Hyphantria cunea (mulberry moth); Hysteroneura setariae (rusty plum aphid); Lepidosaphes ulmi (oystershell scale); Leucoptera malifoliella (pear leaf blister moth); Lobesia botrana (European grapevine moth); Lymantria dispar (gypsy moth); Maconellicoccus hirsutus (pink hibiscus mealybug); Macrothylacia rubi; Malacosoma americanum (eastern tent caterpillar); Malacosoma neustria (common lackey); Mamestra brassicae (cabbage moth); Naupactus xanthographus (South American fruit tree weevil); Operophtera brumata (winter moth); Orgyia leucostigma (white-marked tussock moth); Otiorhynchus armadillo (armadillo weevil); Otiorhynchus cribricollis (weevil, apple); Parabemisia myricae (bayberry whitefly); Paratrichodorus porosus; Parlatoria pergandii (chaff scale); Parthenolecanium corni (European fruit lecanium); Peach wart disease; Peridroma saucia (pearly underwing moth); Phlyctinus callosus (vine calandra); Phorodon humuli (hop vine aphid); Phyllonorycter corylifoliella; Phyllonorycter crataegella (apple blotch leafminer); Phytoplasma pyri (pear decline); Plum bark necrosis stem pitting-associated virus; Pratylenchus vulnus (walnut root lesion nematode); Proeulia auraria (Chilean fruit tree leaf folder); Pseudococcus longispinus (long-tailed mealybug); Pseudomonas syringae pv. persicae (bacterial decline of stone fruit); Recurvaria nanella (lesser bud moth); Retithrips syriacus (black vine thrips); Rhagoletis indifferens (western cherry fruit fly); Rhagoletis pomonella (apple maggot); Rhynchites auratus; Richardia brasiliensis (white-eye (Australia)); Rotylenchulus reniformis (reniform nematode); Saissetia coffeae (hemispherical scale); Saturnia pavonia (small emperor moth); Saturnia pyri (giant emperor moth); Sclerotinia sclerotiorum (cottony soft rot); Scolytus rugulosus (shothole borer); Scolytus schevyrewi (banded elm bark beetle); Setaria parviflora (knotroot foxtail); Spodoptera littoralis (cotton leafworm); Strawberry latent ringspot virus (latent ring spot of strawberry); Synanthedon exitiosa (peachtree borer); Synanthedon myopaeformis (hornet clearwing moth); Synanthedon pictipes (lesser peachtree borer); Tessaratoma papillosa (litchi stink bug); Thrips flavus (honeysuckle thrips); Thrips imaginis (plague thrips); Tropinota squalida; Xiphinema diversicaudatum (dagger nematode); Xiphinema index (fan-leaf virus nematode); Xiphinema rivesi (dagger nematode); Xyleborus dispar (pear blight beetle); Yponomeuta padellus (cherry ermine moth); Zeuzera pyrina (wood leopard moth)

Associated with (not a host):

Oligonychus perditus

Host of (source – data mining):

Tranzschelia pruni-spinosae (plum rust)

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