Planting, Growing, and Harvesting Plums



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Plums are a good choice for beginner gardeners who want to grow fruit trees. Plum trees are widely adapted, more compact, and require less treatment than most fruit trees. Not only are plums delicious, but the trees themselves add beauty to any garden.

Plums belong to the family of stone fruit, which also includes peaches and nectarines.


  • Be prepared to plant more than one type of plum tree because many types require cross-pollination to produce fruit, although there are some varieties that can produce fruit on their own.
  • It is also important to choose a type that will work with your location. There are three categories of plum trees: European, Japanese, and Damson. Hardy European types work in most regions across the U.S. The Japanese types flourish where peach trees flourish. There are also American hybrids that work well in regions where neither European or Japanese types flourish.
  • Plant plum trees in well-drained, moderately fertile soil in full sun. Avoid planting in low areas where frost may settle, as the frost will damage your trees.
  • If possible, find sheltered position, such as a south- or west-facing spot out of the wind. This will help the plum tree set fruit.
  • For container-grown trees, remove the plant from its pot and remove any circling roots by laying the root ball on its side and using shears to cut through the roots.
  • For grafted trees, keep the graft union 1 inch above the soil line when planting.
  • Dig a hole that is a few inches deeper and wider than the spread of the roots. Set the tree on top of a small mound of soil in the middle of the hole. Be sure to spread the roots away from the trunk without excessively bending them.
  • Space standard-size trees 20 to 25 feet apart. Space dwarf trees 15 to 20 feet apart.


  • Thinning plum trees is important to prevent branches breaking under the weight of the trees. If branches do break, prune them back into the undamaged wood, ideally cutting back to a natural fork to avoid leaving stubs.
  • Be sure to water the young trees heavily every week during the first growing season to help promote growth. Then, water regularly. It’s best to water the plant deeply at the soil line, then let the soil dry out (though not completely), and then water again.
  • Water your tree well into mid-October to give it plenty of moisture through the winter months.
  • Do not fertilize young fruit trees unti they have set a crop.
  • Once established, fruit production requires regular fertilizing all year long. If there’s good fruit set, fertilize with one pound calcium nitrate
    per tree or 1½ lb. 10-10-10. Cut back the nitrogen in fall and winter to avoid encouraging new growth in those seasons.
  • In the fall, rake away all debris and fallen trees.
  • Prune early spring or mid-summer to avoid infection. The best time for pruning is usually spring for young trees and mid-summer for established ones.
  • Do NOT prune in the fall or winter injury or infection may occur.
  • Did you have any pest issues? Talk to your local extension or garden center about a spray program.
  • To prevent winter injury: Consider a tree wrap or guard around the lower trunk, especially for a young plum tree.
  • Keep an eye on the lower bark and branches for mice or rabbit injury; if this could be a problem, you may need to install tree guards or fence in young trees with chicken wire for the winter.

Pruning: Japanese Plum

  • If you have a Japanese type of tree, the best pruning method is to create an open center shape. In the summer of the first year, cut the vigorous shoots that form on the top of the tree by two or three buds. After about a month, check the tree. As soon as you have three wide-angled branches, spaced equally apart, cut back any other branches so that these three are the main branches. In the early summer of the second year, cut back the branches in the middle of the tree to short stubs and prune any shoots developing below the three main branches. After the third year, remove any shoots in the center of the tree to keep its shape.
  • Japanese types require heavy pruning to help keep them in shape and to produce better fruit. It is also good to thin out the fruit on these types of trees. You should space the plums about 3 to 4 inches apart on each branch.

Pruning: European Plum

  • If you have a European type of tree, the best pruning method is to create a central leader. This shape features a central trunk with branches that spiral out every 5 to 8 inches, making sure that no branch is directly above another. The training for such a system begins in the early summer of the first year, during which time you should remove any shoots that form within 18 inches of the ground. The end result should resemble a Christmas tree.
  • European types do not require fruit thinning because they do not produce as much fruit as Japanese types. However, the fruit on these types should be spaced about 2 inches apart on each branch.
  • To help control pests and diseases, remember to prune your trees to keep them open. You can also mulch around the trees in the spring to help control weeds, but be sure to remove the mulch in the late fall so that no pests use it over the winter. You can also lightly cultivate the soil around your trees in late spring to eliminate any pests in the soil.

For more pruning tips, check our spring pruning guide.


Contact your local cooperative extension to implement a spraying program to manage for these problems.


  • Harvest have the best flavor when left to ripen on the tree. You can tell when plums are ripe by applying gentle pressure with your fingers. If the skin of the fruit feels soft, then it is ready to be picked.
  • Plums should come off the tree easily when you’re using only a slight twist.
  • Unfortunately, the fruit does not store for long, so must be eaten or preserved. You can also pick the fruit when they are still slightly firm and store them in a cool place to fully ripen.
  • The best place to store plums is in the refrigerator. The best temperature for storing plums is about 31° - 32°F with relative humidity around 90% - 95%; if kept at this temperature, plums may last for 2 to 4 weeks.
  • You can also store plums by making jams or jellies.
  • Plums can also be stored by freezing or drying them (dried plums are prunes).

Recommended Varieties


Reader Comments

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After 5 years of great harvest last year my plums tasted bitter.

The yield was the same with perfect fruit, but the fruit was bitter. What should I do for the future?

italian Prune Plum and American Plum

I planted what I think is an American plum 5 years ago from Home Depot. It has flowered every year but never produced any fruit. After doing some research I though maybe it was a kind that needed cross pollination. So I bought an Italian prune plum from Home Depot this year and planted it 10 feet away from the much taller American plum. I am now worried that they will not cross pollinate or even bloom at the same time. Can someone tell me if these two types cross pollinate? Thank you so much.

Italian-American Relations

Hi, Star: Yes, your American plum needs cross-pollination and in fact is an excellent cross-pollenizer itself. Your Italian prune plum is probably self-pollinating (“probably,” because these days there are various hybrids out there with differing characteristics) but of course could still help the American. Give it some time. Also, read up (in the Old Farmer’s Almanac and also in the Old Farmer’s Almanac Garden Guide print publications, as well as here on on how to make sure that your place is as pollinator-friendly (e.g., bees) as possible. The other thing you might do is ask at Home Depot. Perhaps they get these questions and have answers specific to what they sell. Thanks for asking, and good luck!

Maturing and if I am in a good growing zone?

I just planted 2 flowering um trees. These are the first trees I have planted ever. I understand they are a good beginner tree, I have followed all directions and have an appropriate soil conditions. I love in Sun City AZ. What are my chances for being successful with these trees. Also how long will it be before they would reach max. Height. I appreciate any information as I am rely wanting to be successful with these two trees.

Plum Crazy

Hi, Vanessa: Well, no, you’re not plumb crazy for being plum crazy in Sun City, but a lot of your success will depend on which cultivar you have and how you treat your trees. Presumably your local nursery or wherever you got it would not provide you with something unsuitable for growing, but in general flowering plums do best in hardiness Zones 5 to 8, and you are in slightly warmer Zone 9b. The time to height maturity will vary with cultivars, too, but many will top 15 feet in 5 to 10 years. Flowering plums are fairly drought-tolerant, but you will have to find the delicate balance between keeping them sufficiently moist and not letting them sit around in water, which encourages fungal diseases. Also, if possible, protect them from any strong winds during their first year or two, as they can be pretty delicate. WE are plumb crazy about the way you are caring so much about these trees, and we’re sure that both you and they will be a success. Thanks for writing!

Plum tree type

I moved to a property with an unusual plum tree that no one seems to be able to identify however it looks just like the one in your picture. Can you tell me what type/variety it is? Any info on the tree will help. Thanks

Cooking with plum

My plum tree developed a blight on it this past year that looked like a raised black scab. What I researched was a blight that was spread by rain or moisture, I lost my entire crop of plums from it.
I cut it down to stop the spread of it to my new young trees. The question I have is can I still use the wood for bbq and smoking meat?

blight on plum trees

We would not suggest you use the diseased trees for anything, not even compost.

Plum Trees

Do plum trees lose their leaves in Winter?

Plum Trees in Winter

Yes, plums must experience a dormant period, during which time they drop their leaves in cold climates.

plum tree from seed

I brought some plum pits home from Switzerland. Need planting from seed instructions.
Is this indeed a possible successful endeavor?

plums from pits

It might be best to start with stock that comes from the U.S., unless you have already gone through the process of getting a permit (a “foreign phytosanitary certificate”) from U.S. customs to grow a tree from a seed/pit from another country, which it seems that you would likely need to do for this case. (For more information, please see:   - this link talks about certain restrictions for Prunus, the genus that includes plums.)

In general, even though the species might be the same, seeds (or pits) from plants that have grown in one location may not adapt as well to another location, versus more native stock. Unless you are interested in plant breeding, then growing a plum tree from stock from a U.S. nursery might be more successful. Also, pits from fruit from a grocery store, for example, often come from varieties that are bred more for commercial concerns, such as shelf life and holding up during transportation, rather than traits popular for a backyard orchard, such as flavor. More varieties are available to home gardeners, too.

Hope this helps!

Planting time

When is the best time to plant a plum tree? Also is it possible to start a plum tree from a seed?

Planting plums

The best time to plant a plum tree, Kali, is mid- to late March, April, or June—depending on your location. (You do not want to do it when there is snow on the ground!) You want to give it time to establish roots before the heat of summer sets in. Extension services provide lots of information (and occasionally offer programs); the Penn State service has this detailed advice on growing from seed:

We hope this helps!

Early Laxton Plum - Tiny Fruit

I planted an early laxton plum about three years ago and ended up having to transplant it in a new location a year ago. This is the first year we've seen fruit on it but they are tiny. They are ripe and tasty but only about as big as a quarter. The literature on it indicates a medium sized fruit. Do the fruits get bigger as the tree ages?

Place sales 2" thick plums tree or edible sweet cherry tree

I live in Edmonton, Alberta of Canada. I would like to buy
2" thick plums tree or edible sweet cherry tree. Could you please tell me where I can order it and how much for shipment?

Cherry Trees

Hi Anne, We do not sell plants on our Web site. We just offer free how-to-grow advice. Try searching Google. For example, type in: cherry trees alberta canada site:ca  

Anne P - Buying fruit trees in Edmonton

Anne, have you located any hard fruits for your area? I am in Saskatoon and looking for the same.

Plum growing

Can you harvest the plums while they are still yellow/orange color. Will they turn red if put out and left in the sun light?
We had a lot of rain here in Texas and the two trees I have are loaded with plums.
They are so heavy that about 10 to 15 branches are loaded down with them and are now touching the ground. If I could harvest them now I would have well over 100 plums per branch at this time. Only 10 to 20 on each branch are now deep red color. All others are yellow or orange at this time. Is their a way to save any of the plums.

Plums do ripen after they are

Plums do ripen after they are picked. Place the picked plums in a spot that is between 68 and 77 degrees F. You can also put the plums in a brown paper bag to ripen a bit quicker. It’s suggested that you thin the plums early in the spring when they first start growing so that you the ones left on the branches will grow bigger and tastier. This also prevents the branches from breaking under the weight of all those plums.

Santa Rosa Plum Tree

Does the root system of the Santa Rosa Plum Tree spread out, or grow downwards? I live in WA State.

Thank you.

Fruit trees

Interested in planting peach, pear and plum trees in Northern Wisconsin

I live in middle Georgia and

I live in middle Georgia and I have 2 Bruce and 1 Methley plum trees. They've not borne fruit in the 5 years that I have had them. I have a feeling that they might not be getting enough sunlight. Exactly how many hours of sunlight do they need in a day? Thanks.

The plum trees grow best in

The plum trees grow best in full sun (8 hours of direct sunlight). In the spring spread a balanced 10-10-10 fertilizer around the trees.

Identifying plum trees and are they poison to my grazers?

I picked up some plum trees at a yard sale and don't know what kind they are. I want to plant them in my pasture but I don't know if they will hurt my animals like cherry trees. Any help would be nice.

Pruning Blireana Plum

My twenty year old blirena plum has grown too large (20x20) and I want to reduce its size and prolific plums. It was thinned out a few years and produced 4 times the fruit the next year and damaged many branches which broke under the weight of the fruit. Can I head it back a third without creating too many water sprouts and more plums? I would like to keep the tree rather than removing it and starting over!

You can prune the tree back

You can prune the tree back by a third. You can wait to prune some branches after they have flowered to reduce the amount of plums.

plum trees spacing

I have a Stanley plum trees orchard almost 3000 trees , the rows are 3 meters apart and the trees are also 3 meters from each others , my question is can I plant more fruit trees in between and have a mixed orchard in order to take advantage of the space , if so what are the fruit trees that are suitable to be planted in the midst of this plum trees orchard ,? do I have to plant just other plum variety or can another fruit tree kind say cherries or peaches coexist in the midst of plums .....please help me with any of your suggestions as I am very novice , thanks

We don’t recommend planting

We don’t recommend planting other trees between the plum trees. The 3 meter spacing is already pretty tight and the trees need space to grow. You didn’t mention if your trees are dwarf or standard. It’s recommended to space standard Stanley trees 18 - 20 feet apart and dwarf trees 8 - 10 feet apart.

Hello, my Teagan Blue plum

Hello, my Teagan Blue plum has just finished flowering. I have many little plums, about 5mm. It's a very happy tree on clay. My concern is i am going away in 11 weeks. Can anybody tell me if they will be ready to eat before i go away.Thank you.

We are not familiar with the

We are not familiar with the Teagan Blue plum but what we have found out is that it matures late in the season. If you already have small plums growing they should be ready for picking before you go away.

My Italian Plum tree has

My Italian Plum tree has served me well but I have a few questions.
I never know when it is best to prune.
I notice a lot of aphids, and as noted above that they are Plum Aphids, and they attract wasps. I have sprayed with insecticides which have killed the aphids and evicted the wasps.
I noticed sap raining off of the tree which I assume is normal?
Lastly, the upper leaves seem to be dwarfed and withering which may be insects? If I open the leaves I will often find sign of insects and eaten leaf. Not sure if more insecticides are required?
Thanks for your articles...very enlightening.

Hi Ryan, The best time to

Hi Ryan,
The best time to prune is when the tree is dormant so late winter before spring growth has started is a good time. If you have sprouts growing from the base they can be removed from mid-June thru August.
The sap you see dripping off your plant could be honeydew coming from the aphids. If it is gummy and leaking from one or two spots, it could be a sign of a fungal disease that has taken advantage of an injury to the tree.
The damage to the leaves is caused by sap sucking insects like aphids. Try a blast of water first to knock them off, then progress to stronger methods like neem oil. The best time to treat the tree is after the leaves have dropped to suffocate the overwintering eggs and also to lessen any harm to beneficial insects such as lady bugs, lacewings, syrphid flies, and soldier beetles.
If you resort to pesticides, alternate chemicals to reduce the likelihood of the insects developing resistance.

Response to Shirley G - A

Response to Shirley G -

A couple of possibilities come to mind. One is that there was a frost at a critical time which short circuited the fruiting cycle. (Usually plums are pretty hardy about that, though, at least here in SW Oregon.)

A second possibility is that the tree has developed a biennial bearing pattern. In one year (say, even numbered years) it will go gang busters and deliver a huge crop. The next year (odd years) it self-aborts its fruits because it doesn't have the reserves to bring the crop to fruition. Plums do this sometimes; some varieties of apples do this a lot. A possible solution is to thin the fruit heavily in an "even" year to discourage the biennial pattern.

We have a plum tree that

We have a plum tree that produced a large crop last year, and we were looking forward to the same this year, all the signs were good plenty of blossom, the fruit set and we were looking forward to harvesting a good crop again,but then all the fruit every one started to shrink and wither, we are having a lot of problems with dust from a local soil and concrete sorting yard, could this be the problem, it is all we can think of, as it is the only thing that is different from last year, they were not operational then.have you any advice please.

Your description of

Your description of "shrinking & withering" describes what happened to two of my peach trees this year - I read up on it and there is a "blight" called "Mumification" disease requiring a fungaside. Have sprayed them and will not know results until Spring.

I have a Japanese plum tree

I have a Japanese plum tree (reddish purple) and each year the ripe plums has a small hole. I cannot tell if it is a bee, bird, sawfly, or something else. It's been 10 years and it's driving me nuts. I have thrown away so many plums. How can i be sure what the holes are?

What part of the country is

What part of the country is it?

What about the plum curculio (a beetle)?

My mom has a young plum tree

My mom has a young plum tree that produced a lot of plums this year. The problem is the plums were small, turned purple and fell off the tree before they were mature.

Sound like an Italian Plum

Sound like an Italian Plum tree, they're small & purple-what prunes are made from. They're also super sweet and are superior for processing into jams, desserts, wines etc VS the big ones you'd buy in the store which are for fresh eating.

My parents have a plum tree

My parents have a plum tree that seems to be a Newport (from leaf color and size, color, and shape of fruit) but it produces no flowers. However, it produces so many plums it is impossible to keep up. They live west of Seattle in Washington state. The plums bear so much fruit and so quickly, many branches have broken or reach to the ground, heavy with fruit. It's probably about 10 years old. Even with so many plums, we either don't get to enjoy them because they (or the branch) fall off and they don't seem to ripen very quickly. I have three questions:
1) Even though it's best to let them ripen on the tree, can we pick them prematurely and let them ripen elsewhere? If so, where and how long?
2) What is the best way to prop up branches? Especially when there are so many to prop.
3) What would be the best way to prune, considering we don't know exactly what type of tree it is?
Any direction would be helpful. Thank you!

Here are a few reasons why

Here are a few reasons why the tree may drop the plums. If the tree is stressed, too little or too much water, not enough sun, it will drop the fruit before they are ripe. If a plum tree has too many plums it will thin itself by dropping extra plums before ripening the ones left on the tree. You can help the tree by removing enough plums by hand. Thin the fruit until the branches can support the remaining fruit without props.
Plum curlicos can also cause plum drop. Google curlicos to read about the disease.
Pruning is best done in early spring. It's important to remove any broken branches to a good section of wood.
You can pick plums just before they are ripe and then store them in a cool place to ripen.

I live in San Francisco and

I live in San Francisco and my Italian Prune (plum) tree has come in beautifully. Due to this areas micro climates our growing season is ... strange. I am in a very foggy area but have been successful with the Prune and a dwarf black cherry tree. Unfortunately, I pruned the cherry late so few flowers have resulted in a very light harvest.

Plums are light purple just before they split. I am going to pick most of the tree this week. I find splitting pitting dusting with brown sugar and baking these a very delicious way to eat.

I have just picked my sand

I have just picked my sand plums, triple washed them and layed them out to dry and ripen a bit... I went to begin juicing them and noticed little tiny buggs, some dead, some alive, and some COMING OUT OF THE PLUM. What aee these? Is it still safe to use these plums for jelly? I have never been shy of a worm hole when making plum jelly, but not sure if the bug is safe to boil lol...

My plum trees has alot fruit

My plum trees has alot fruit and they are really sweet and juicy. My issue though are they are bite size. How do I get this tree have bigger size of fruits. I did try thinning them but I gues I must not be doing it right. Any suggestion?

Hi, Emily: Assuming that your

Hi, Emily: Assuming that your fruit are mature, sweet, and juicy, but just small, one thing to consider is simply that you have a variety or type that produces small fruit. In general, though, plums are energized by the leaves above them on a branch, so you would cull below--although it's a little late for that now. Bear in mind, too, that smaller fruit come with age for a plum tree as well. The older the tree, often the smaller the fruit. Good luck!

How far can be one plum to

How far can be one plum to another yo get pollinated 75 feets apart will work?

The usual recommendation is

The usual recommendation is 60 to 120 feet in every row, with adjacent rows offset.

I planned a plum tree a year

I planned a plum tree a year ago it grew well flowered but did not bear any fruit, I was told to plant another which I did this year but the first one grew big. Should I prune the first one. I do not want to kill it since I do not know how to prune it. should I call someone to prune it for me. Help

My plum tree is presently

My plum tree is presently bearing very young fruit. Is there anything I should spry to prevent them from getting affected by bugs/worms and/or just falling off.

I transplanted a plum tree

I transplanted a plum tree abought 4 weeks ago in the fall not sure what type it is but leaves are starting to turn brown, had a harsh winter.also whats the distance for plum tree pollination? may i have some advice, I live in ny state

Plant all fruit trees used as

Plant all fruit trees used as “pollenizers” within 100 feet of the cultivar to be pollinated.  Plums trees, in general, need at least 10 feet between each plant.
Frost does indeed cause leaes to brown and die. The best solution is buying trees that fit your zone. We're not sure where you live in New York state but plus trees do suffer winter injury when the temperature drops to –20 degrees F, so they are not reliably hardy beyond Zone 5a.
In the winter, you can also cover the trunk of the tree with a sheet or wrap.

I bought a Methley plum tress

I bought a Methley plum tress at Walmart four years ago. It is growing well, but has never bloomed, nor consequently bore fruit. I bought a peach tree at the same time. The peach tree blooms and produces some peaches. I'm so disappointed. Any ideas why this is? Thanks!!

Hi, Jennifer: This is

Hi, Jennifer: This is interesting, to say the least. Most Methleys set fruit only every 2 or 3 years, so yours may be in some sort of extended dormancy, provided that it was/is not diseased or pest-infected in some way (check). Another possibility is cold/frost damage, but your peach tree would seem to disprove this theory. About the only thing to do is continue to wait, as you chant "Where there's health, there's hope." But seriously: Good luck!

I also bought two plum trees

I also bought two plum trees from Walmart. They are two different types. The first one I lost track of the name. But it has a trunk now that is over 3" in diameter and has been in place for about six years and has never bloomed. Then three years ago I bought another and it hasn't bloomed either. It is called an Italian Plum dwarf. I thought maybe having two trees would cause cross pollunation but of course if they don't bloom no plums. What is the answer? Are all Walmart plum trees bad for some reason. Seems to be a lot of posting with the same problem.
Very disappointed as my old plum tree of many years has died, and like plums.

I also bought mine from

I also bought mine from Walmart,not sure which one But it has been 3yrs and neither one has bloomed.Previously got some from Walmart after many years of not blooming I dug them up. Second round and still the same.My Apple,Orange,and Tangerine Blooms Good.Not the Plum Tree.About to dig up and Try getting from a Nursery.

Try the plum tree from

Try the plum tree from Hernryfeilds bare root is the best.

Hi, I live in Montenegro and


I live in Montenegro and I'm into bonsaifying trees and shrubs. Today I've noticed a plum shrub, propagated naturally from my neighbours side into my yard. It's about a half metre high and it's trunk's diameter is about 6-7 mm. What I'd like to know is, how long, considering proper care, is it going to take for the trunk to get 2 cm diameter? Thank you in advance.

I'm not sure of the variety

I'm not sure of the variety of plum that we have. I know we have never had fruit on it, so perhaps one that needs 2 trees to bare fruit. My question is if it is safe to plant a flower garden around it. I would like one all of the way around it, but we could just start the garden with the Plum at one end of it. I know some trees don't tolerate flowers planted near them. It's a lovely tree, so I don't want to kill it! Thanks for any advice.

Well, Jamie, without much to

Well, Jamie, without much to go on (type of plum, type of flowers), we would advise leaving a "skirt" of space to the drip line (crown width/parameter) around the base of the plum tree for mulch. This can be attractive and will conserve moisture, improve soil structure, reduce or stop weed growth, protect the tree in winter, and allow its roots to breathe.

I've been wanting to plant a

I've been wanting to plant a plum and a peach for many years and it's going to be this spring. My family in Nepal has a really great plum tree whose jam is to die for- sweet, sour and tart jam! Im in NJ. Would love to plant one that is self pollinating if possible (don't have much land for I want to plant a peach as well), easy grower, abundant producer of very sweet, juicy, deep dark red plums with some sour and tartness that ideal for making jam and eating fresh. Would like you know your suggestions. Thank you.

I love green plums! Not when

I love green plums! Not when they're really hard and bitter, but when they are still firm and crunchy and sour/tart.I even like them when they are barely starting to turn yellow but still have a lot of green tint and are still firm and crunchy and still tart, but with a hint of sweetness. What are some good varieties? I'm in Alabama zone 7b. Is there any that doesn't ripen as quickly that would stay green longer. I remember as a kid a neighbor's house had big ones and they were SO good!

Hello, plum lover! Plums grow

Hello, plum lover! Plums grow well in Alabama! AU Producer is a great plum for central zone. Very productive and juicy. Methley plus are nice, too. AU Roadside is another good choice for home orchards. If you like green plums, consider: Bruce, Segundo, and Robusto varieties. Contract your Alabama cooperative extension for more local advice on growing plums.

I just purchased a peach plum

I just purchased a peach plum tree and a hardy brook gold plum - I am trying to make sure they are compatible for pollination with each other - would you be able to tell me

Hi Debbie, The peach plum is

Hi Debbie,
The peach plum is a European plum and is partially self-fertile. The brook gold plum tree needs a pollinator and suggested varieties are Opata, Pembina or Western Sand Cherry plum.

We have 4 very young Japanese

We have 4 very young Japanese plums in our yard that are about 10 feet apart. What are the possible negative outcomes to this spacing that we may run into?

Japanese plum trees can grow

Japanese plum trees can grow pretty big depending on the variety. Even dwarf varieties grow to 10 feet wide when mature. Check to see how big your plum trees will grow and then decide if you need to move a couple of trees. Also remember that you need two different varieties for cross pollination.

I have a reasonably healthy

I have a reasonably healthy purple/black plum tree that produces lots of fruit but is not that sweet or has much juice.Any ideas on how to remedy this.Thanks guys

Hi, Martyn: About the only

Hi, Martyn: About the only thing we can suggest is to really read carefully and follow the notes about plums (and especially their care and pruning) at the top of this column. One other thing we have found, though, is that people sometimes pick them too soon. You probably have done the following, but if not: Let at least one ripen until it falls off the tree, then test it. This will tell you whether it's a variety/care issue or simply one of timing. Good luck and thanks for asking!

Hello, we live in the

Hello, we live in the Okanagan, BC, and have a plum tree that is five years old which has never flowered or given fruit. Do we need another plum to cross-pollinate, or do we give it more time? It is an otherwise healthy tree that has beautiful foliage. We have peach trees, but only one plum. Thank you.

My mother has a lot of

My mother has a lot of upshoots either from the roots or the seeds of those plums that were left behind. She and an friend would like to replant these and was not sure about the timing (time of year, are the moon and stars aligned, that sort of thing LOL)? We are located near Glen Rose Texas, about 30 miles South of Fort Worth if that makes a difference. Any thoughts?

Hi Melinda, If the trees are

Hi Melinda,
If the trees are native plums and not grafted, then the suckers (shoots) will grow into identical plum trees and the fruit will be identical to those on the mother tree. If the plum tree was grafted the shoots are coming from the rootstock and will not match the fruit on the mother tree. Best time to dig the suckers is when they are dormant. Dig down far enough to get some roots and then prune the top if it is too tall to keep the roots and top about the same length. You can plant the suckers in big pots or directly in the ground.

I think we may have black

I think we may have black knot on our ornamental plum tree in Las Vegas. What can we do?

Infected twigs should be

Infected twigs should be pruned out and destroyed before buds appear in the spring. It is important to prune at least 2-4 inches below each knot. You can also cut away the diseased tissue down to healthy wood. Burn or bury all the prunings.
Using fungicides will offer significant protection against black knot.

I have one satsuma plum tree

I have one satsuma plum tree in the yard. How far away can I plant the santa rosa plum tree and still have pollination occur?

A good guideline is to plant

A good guideline is to plant compatible-pollen varieties within 50 feet of one another.

Thank you so much for all the

Thank you so much for all the useful information here. I have a plum tree 4 years old. I dont know the type. It has some fruits the very first year but none after that. Anyway, I am writing it for another reason- I noticed some brown shiny sticky bubble type things on stem and few branches. it looks like it is spreading and those branches look unhealthy. yesterday I bought Bayor advanced from homedepot and used it around the tree as instructed. I also tried to remove the bubbles as much as i can. Also, i never pruned it. I dont want my tree to die. Please help.

Hello, Ritu: Professor Plum

Hello, Ritu: Professor Plum back on the case. Your tree is stressed, and those are sap bubbles that it is exuding. It's possible that you have borers of some type (see if there are little wood specks near the bubble holes), but this is unlikely if the damage is not limited to down near the ground. You also might have a fungal or bacterial infection (well, your tree might have). Or, your tree could just be thirsty and too hot. So... Make sure your tree gets a good watering every 3 days for two weeks. Then every 4 days. Put down some hardwood mulch to help retain the moisture. Get an organic, copper-based fungicide and apply as directed. I am giving you an A+ for caring so much!

Our plum tree has a serious

Our plum tree has a serious case of black knot (just figuring this out now actually). It hasn't successfully bore fruit for 4 seasons, this is the first season the fruit is still on the tree and plentiful! Some plums look decent where others look drippy and sick (but still hanging and ripening).. The big debate around here, is the fruit safe to eat?! From reading up on black knot, the spores seem to be easily airborn and transferrable.. Which really makes me wary of consuming the fruit. Please advise! Many thanks :)

Question about plum tree vs

Question about plum tree vs roots. I have been growing a Plum tree in my rear yard for five or six years now with full sun and no success. The gardener looked at it and said two of the trunk branches are roots and the center one is the tree. However it appears to be dead. So the question is what to do next? Cut the whole thing down and start over? Or graft branches on to the existing roots? And if I do a graft, can I put two types of trees on the same root stock?

You can give grafting a try.

You can give grafting a try. And yes, you can graft two different (or more) varieties on the same root stock. Plum, peach, nectarine, and apricot are all good choices.

This guy is selling plum tree

This guy is selling plum tree seedlings that have sprouted up all over his yard around his plum tree! He doesn't know what type of tree it is but said the plums are really good! Will these seedlings produce the same delicious plums if I buy one and transplant it or am I just wasting my time and money?

Hi, Michele: We had to

Hi, Michele: We had to consult with Professor Plum on this one because you have rolled up a lot of good questions into just a few sentences! We can't get into shopping advice here, which is good because there are some big question marks, like who is "this guy"?, did you see him get the seedlings from his yard?, are the plums really good to begin with?, is he selling root upshoots (suckers) or real seedlings?, and how much does he want for them? Most good trees come from grafting a known producer onto a new rootstock, so starting from the ground up is often an adventure. Assuming that he does not want much for these, we might take one just for the fun of it to see what happens. Then again, we could go buy some plums and follow the directions in the forum below get some seeds from them and start from there. Plus, we would have the enjoyment of eating the plums. Or, we could do both. Professor Plum is either nodding his head in agreement or nodding off. Good luck!

We had a lot of plums this

We had a lot of plums this year but the plums had holes in them and looked like sugar cystals coming out of the holes. What causes this damage?

Sounds like you have an

Sounds like you have an infestation of a fruitworm. you can't do anything about it this year, but next year spray tree in the dormant season with a oil, and lime/sulfur (for Pseudomonas seringii if you have spotting on the leaves).

Moved and thereis a plum tree

Moved and thereis a plum tree in yard how do I know what kind of plum tree it is?

We're not sure where you

We're not sure where you live. There are many varieties of plum trees. We'd suggest that you contact your local cooperative extension. You may be able to send a sample. Here is a list of state contacts:

I bought a plum tree recently

I bought a plum tree recently and the name was Plum Bourbon S/D...could you tell me if that variety needs other fruit trees to pollinate and produce fruit?

Q i have a plum tree i dint

Q i have a plum tree i dint know what kind it is. it's been 3yre now no flowers no blossom no nothing. it look healthy lots of leafs. but no fruits. can u help with tha.

First, be aware that there

First, be aware that there are some flowering plum trees which are ornamental and do not produce fruit. If it's a fruit-bearing tree, plum trees do not start bearing fruit until they are five or six years old. There are a number of reasons for trees of fruit-bearing age to have issues. The main reasons are: frost damage, lack of pollination, extreme temperatures, or other weather conditions (too rainy or windy). 

My fruit trees froze this

My fruit trees froze this year so I know that I wont get any fruit but for some reason some of my trees are not even leafing out. We can tell that the tree's are still living. Is there something that we can do make it at least leaf out?

A freeze will cause leaves to

A freeze will cause leaves to wilt, but your plum tree usually deals with bad weather conditions by developing back-up buds. It's just a waiting game now.

I have a Stanley type prune

I have a Stanley type prune tree 6 to 7 years old. Over the years it has flowered but never fruited. I thought this tree was self pollinating. The tree is flowering now ( May). What can I do to get it to fruit this year?

Ah, yes... this reminds us of

Ah, yes... this reminds us of the trials of our recently departed father-in-law Stanley, who grew Stanley plums (and just about everything else under the Sun) in Zone 7a just because ... well, you understand. He had a whole litany of stories about plums (and his figs, too), but the bottom line is this: Coddle your tree. Then coddle it some more. In general, there are two reasons why a blossoming Stanley plum tree won't fruit: (1) Weather stress/damage. Even though it has flowered, there may be inherent damage from frost or cold that remains. Or, it may be stressed from wind or abrupt changes of some sort. So think of it as a little baby, and give it water, a little food, and Sun, but watch over it and protect it from everything else. (2) Professor Plum's #2 reason, as our Stanley once learned, is this: It's not a Stanley plum at all, but a flowering plum or non-self-pollinating type. Sorry: Our Stanley would never forgive us if we didn't bring this up. So, continue to be patient ... and show the love!

My plum tree has something

My plum tree has something that looks like sap coming out of some of the branches. I'm not sure if it got froze and slit and that is why it is oozing sap. In 2012 it really produced a lot of fruit but not in 2013. Well, it did produce but all the plums fell off while very small and green. It is doing the same thing this year so far and that is when I noticed the sap coming out. Any suggestions on what to do now??

This does not sound good.

This does not sound good. Oozing is a sign of borer activity, which, once started, is difficult to control. The clearwing moth lays eggs on the base of the tree trunk and upper roots, and the larvaae tunnel into the tree just below the bark. Preventative sprays (permethrin, carbaryl) from eaarly July through September may help. But frmo your description, by July it may be too late.
See here for more information:

Can you identify a type of

Can you identify a type of plum for me? It grows in Georgia, it is large and it remains green with greenish yellow stripes on it when ripe. The owner said it was a "old timey" (Heirloom?)variety. Best plum I have ever eaten. Thanks for your advice.

When we think of green plums,

When we think of green plums, we think of "Green Gage Plum" which is an old variety from Europe which many do believe is the finest of all plums. It disappeared for a while but has made a comeback--and it does grow in Georgia. Search "Green Gage" or "greengage" plum to see if this is it.

hi i need a advice i baught a

hi i need a advice i baught a plum formosa .and i want to know how to plant thanks

If you're planting this type

If you're planting this type of plum tree, just keep in mind that it has a wider spread (15 to 20 feet). As with most plums, plant in fertile, well-drained soil and ensure periodic deep watering in summer months. See this page for more plum planting information.

I would like to know about

I would like to know about how big the root system can be for a satsuma plum tree?? Thank you for any comments in advance...

I just moved and there are

I just moved and there are plum trees that look very sad with smaller shoots all over the place, the main plum trees look almost all the way dead but there are still some live branches on them. Should I get rid of all the small ones so that all the energy can go to the big ones? If its not worth it can I cut the big on and let one of the shoots grow?

Here is a good reference page

Here is a good reference page on how to renovate old fruit trees:

i have 7 japense plum trees

i have 7 japense plum trees and they are grown to about 8 or 9 ft tall can you tell me when i might get some fruit from them have had them now almost 5 years and as of yet no fruit on them can you tell me is there something i might be doing wrong with them thanks you for your help in this matter Mr. Nicholson

  Hi Terry, Depending on the

Hi Terry,
Depending on the variety you have you may need a different variety of plum for cross pollination. Check the chart at
It may take five to six years after planting before the trees will produce fruit. When the trees are between 8 and 10 years old they will have maximum fruit production.

must I leave some water

must I leave some water sprouts when pruning flowering plum tree?

During the summer after the

During the summer after the first winter pruning, remove the numerous water sprouts that will grow on the heavily pruned tree. Avoid pruning shears. Pull the shoots off the trunk in mid-June when they are about 10 to 12 inches long. Keep pulling these shoots off throughout the season on the major scaffolds. The shoots can be pulled off safely as long as their bases remain tender and green. Stop when the base of the shoot becomes woody and does not easily pull off.

Why do plums fall off tree

Why do plums fall off tree thay are small and green.And how much water do put on the tree.
thanks ralph.

Fruit drop can happen for

Fruit drop can happen for many reasons: 1) Do you see any sign of insects? Plum curculio is a snout beetle that causes problems and you need to use a fruit tree spray at petal drop and up to 6 weeks after. 2) How is your soil? Plum trees do not do well in wet or compact soil; well-drained sandy loam is best. 3) Do you have plenty of sunshine? 4) Do you have pollinators? Unpollinated flowers will bear fruit, but they abort. 4) Are you thinning your fruit? 5) Are you watering enough? The amount of water needed depends on the size and age of the tree and weather conditions, but a first-year tree uses 5 to 10 gallons of water per week in the summer. The soil on the surface may be dry, but the soil at the root zone needs to be moist 4 to 6 inches down. Occasionally, you can dig down and see if it's moist (but not water logged).

I live in Wyoming (Zone

I live in Wyoming (Zone 4a)and want to plant a plum tree from a pit. Should I start it in my home then transplant outside in the spring? Would Satsuma and Santa Rosa do well here with the harsh winters? Any suggestions for better plum trees or other fruit trees at this elevation?

You don't grow plums from the

You don't grow plums from the pits but you DO grow them from the seed. You probably want to start in the summer and pick fruit that is local to your area. Have fun tasting! Use seed from fully ripe fruit; avoid seeds from early maturing varieties. Let the pits dry for a few days and crack them open with a vise or hammer to harvest the seeds. You store them in the refrigerator in a closed container. A few months before your last frost, you'll want to start the sprouting process. Soak the seeds in room temperature water and put them into a jar of slightly moist potting soil. Close the jar and put them in the back corner of your fridge again. About a month before your last frost date, you can put the seedlings in the ground or in a pot.

I just learned of the purple

I just learned of the purple plum's life cycle of 20 years. Ours produces fruit...and we occassionally have what I thought a sucker that has the purple leaves, I am assuming the tree we have is grafted. We planted it when our son was born. It is an ornamental tree. But we've had ones's producing fruit because it takes after the tree it was grafted onto.

So back to the suckers with the purple leaves...are they suckers or could one of the plums seeds grew a seedling? Because I am curious if we protected the sucker/seedling if we could plant it when the one we originally planted died. It would at least be part of the original tree hypothetically...

If it's grafted (which is

If it's grafted (which is probably the case), the sucker isn't going to grow into the same plum tree. If you want your single plum tree to thrive, clear the suckers so all the energy is put into the tree or it will suffer.

I live in Canada, I have a

I live in Canada, I have a plum tree for many years. it is a self pollination one. We did not do any trimming at all. We have many holes in the leaves. It did bear fruits but the fruits never sweeten, why?

If the holes in the leaves

If the holes in the leaves have a “shot hole” appearance, your plum tree my have a bacterial wilt. Early and late dormant copper sprays will aid in control. Optimum nutrition is also important. We suggest you consult with your local tree nursery for a spray program. You may want to bring in a leaf sample.

I have a plum tree that is 7

I have a plum tree that is 7 months old and i live in the south east portion of tn what should I do to ensure it makes it through the winter it is currently in a pot

Hi, Bill, The Tennessee mild

Hi, Bill, The Tennessee mild winter climate means that you may leave most hardy plum varieties outdoors over winter. We would, however, make sure the plant is sheltered from any wind. Keep it well watered.
      If you weren't in a mild-winter zone, we would recommend that you move your fruit trees indoors in winter, perhaps in an unheated garage.
If you aren't sure how hardy your tree is, we would advise that you call your Tennessee cooperative extension: https://utextension.tennessee....

Cherry plum tree - I have

Cherry plum tree - I have this tree with many braches covered with large black funcus. The black funcas grow around the branch and then spread to other areas of the tree as well. I really dont want to kill the tree as some people said. Any suggestion?

Your tree had a fungus called

Your tree had a fungus called Black Knot.  You need to prune out any infected areas, preferably before bud break.
Prune 2 to 4 inches below each knot. If pruning is not possible because knots are present on major scaffold limbs or the trunk, they can be removed by cutting away the diseased tissue down to healthy wood and out at least 1/2 inch beyond the edge of the knot. Burn or bury the prunings in early spring.
Fungicides are necessary and will provide the greatest benefit if applied before rainy periods, particularly when temperatures are greater than 55 degrees F. You need to maintain pruning, too.

I have an old plum tree

I have an old plum tree (don't know how old it is), but it produces tons of wonderful fruit. This year however, it broke off about to half the size from the weight of the fruit, plus the fruit is not fully ripe. Will the fruit rippen if I pick it? How can I get the fruit to rippen? The broken branch is now starting to die. The tree was there when we bought the property so I don't even know what kind of plum they are.

If your plums have their

If your plums have their first flush of color, they should ripen off the tree. Pick them and put them on a flat tray in a cool room for a few days and they should ripen up. In the future, if you want to keep this tree, you need to prune it and also thin the fruit when young so it's less loaded down. For plum trees, you want to thin in April/May when the fruit is about 1 diameter and about 2 to 4 inches apart.

I live in northern Washington

I live in northern Washington State. elevation 2000 feet are winters can see temperatures 30* below zero . Are Stanley's a good variety to plant?

Stanley prune plums are

Stanley prune plums are compatible with zones 5 to 7. Here is a zone map:

I live zone 7, southern

I live zone 7, southern Oregon. We have a purple flowering plum tree (cherry plums) that are dark red/purple. I am not sure WHEN to pick. Some have fallen to the ground with the wind and our tree is just loaded! Should I wait another week at least or go ahead and pick away? I will be making jam mostly, but eating lots too!! Thank you! I've tried to find info on when exactly to pick, but I'm seeing some say July and others say August. Thank you. I appreciate any suggestions!

Cherry plums are

Cherry plums are traditionally not thinned. In terms of harvesting, they have a long range for ripening, so you really just need to look at the fruit. It's best to wait until they are fully mature, but before they fall from the tree. The best way is to take a couple samples and taste test! The fruit will become softer and the flesh will become juicier and sweeter. Often, it's the birds who will know and pick you clean! Netting is usually the best way to deter birds.

I have a plum tree about 7

I have a plum tree about 7 years old but hardly has any fruits. Last time it had any fruit about a dozen is 2 years ago. What is wrong with it.

A plum tree normally starts

A plum tree normally starts bearing fruit after 4 to 6 years. Do you have two or more varieties together? This is needed for pollination--the usual reason for lack of fruiting.

I have a plum tree that this

I have a plum tree that this year was covered in with flowers... and not a single plum has come of it. Last year had flowers and 1... yes 1 plum, a little green plum. I am trying to make a decision whether I should (A) keep this as ornamental. (B) plant another to cross pollinate, or (3)Remove and replace with a locally purchased known good plum. the tree bloomed in May I need your advice

Why doesn't the plum tree

Why doesn't the plum tree bear any fruits?

I have a large Stanley plum

I have a large Stanley plum that was blown over last year and is leaning at about 30 degrees I tried to straighten it with ropes but don't have the room to get far enough for proper leverage and it a large tree.I keep cutting shoots that are coming from the stem. The tree is healthy and it is full of fruit.(best year ever) but leaning even more with the fruit and is blocking a used garden path.What cannot be done to straighten it out?
Thank you...Alex

Hi, Alex, If at least 1/2 of

Hi, Alex, If at least 1/2 of the roots are in the soil, the tree may correct itself. Even if it's leaning, it may adjust. Normally, we'd use a power lift to pull it upright, making sure some soil was removed to place it below the existing soil grade level. Then, we'd attach 2 or 3 guy lines to the trunk at a point approximately two-thirds of the height of the tree. Anchor about 15 feet from the base of the tree to hold the tree in place.

I hope you can help. I'm

I hope you can help. I'm looking for a plum tree that has very dark meat. My grandmother had 1 in her yard in So. California and it made very good jam. I now live in zone 5 and would like to know what name I am looking for and if it will grow here. I have asked on several web sites and never get a replay. Please help me. Thanks, Barb

That sounds like the plum

That sounds like the plum tree we had in our yard in So Cal. It was a Satsuma plum. Reddish green on the outside and dark red to purple on the inside. I know it needs a pollinator. We had a Santa Rosa plum with it. The Satsuma was a meaty plum and the skin was not bitter.The Santa Rosa was very juicy and sweet, but the skin was tart. Hope this helps.

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I have a plum tree that was

I have a plum tree that was frozen & uprooted during an ice storm. It fell over twice. This spring I completely re-planted it in another part of the yard. It still looks "stunned", & has completely re-covered. I'm not sure it I should be fertilizing it more, or what? Suggestions? It's now in the 90's now.
Kim Schwartz, Little Rock, AR

For a plum tree to recover,

For a plum tree to recover, it needs almost all of its root system. It must be replanted when dormant in a mixture of soil and compost and also planted at a depth that is the same as its original site.
You might wish to stake the tree since it's bound to have lost some of its anchoring roots. Use padded ties ands takes at a low height.
Most plum trees do not need fertilization. Put organic mulch (pine needles) around the base after transplanting to keep weeds and grass away. Give it a gentle soaking daily for a couple of weeks to keep it watered and help the soil settle. Spray with dormant oil early next spring before leaf-out. It may take a few years to stabilize.

Storing Plums at 31 degrees F?

I am confused about the advice to store plums at 31 degrees F. Yes, that would definitely preserve them over an extended period of time because they would be FROZEN! This information could not possibly be correct! I don't know about you, but I don't want frozen plums. I want 'fresh' plums! What really IS the best temperature to preserve fresh plums?

We checked with several state

We checked with several state extension services and a plum advisory board to confirm that yes indeed, 31 to 32 degrees is the optimum temperature for storing fresh plums. Relative humidity of 90%-95% is also advised.

Not Frozen

It is important to remember that 32 degrees is the freezing temperature for water. As soon as you add sugar and pectin to the water the freezing temperature lowers to 26 degrees or less. So plums will do great at 31 degrees.

I just wanted to add that I

I just wanted to add that I believe there is a respiration factor at work here too. I know that blueberries will continue to produce heat during respiration after the fruit is picked from the bush. Harvested plums are likely doing the same thing. Chilling slows down the respiration process and greatly extends shelf life.

Planting Plum seeds

If planting the plum seed in a pot before putting in in the grow, would caring for the plant change any

planting from seed

I just dried out a plum seed and would like to know when is the best time to plant the seed, I live in central iowa and not sure when is the best time to plant the seed

Plant the plum pit mid-fall

Plant the plum pit mid-fall about 4 inches deep. The pit needs to go through the winter in order to germinate. Water well before the weather turns cold. Most fruit trees grow best in a sunny location.

Botanical Name: 


Plant Type: 

Sun Exposure: 

Soil Type: 

Bloom Time: 

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