ABOUT PLUMS: Prunus spp.
Relatives: European Plum and Prune
Plums have been around and cultivated for hundreds of years. They probably originated in China and the Middle East. To that extent, Plums come in a variety of sizes, colors, shapes and tastes.
Trees vary, and there are many different cultivars, but generally speaking, they are all small to medium sized with a fairly long life.
Leaves: Deciduous, oval, either blunt shaped or pointed, and tend to be a non descript, medium green in color.
Flowers: White, small and occasionally a little fragrant. Pollination is by bees and insects, although there are several European and Japanese Plums that are self-fertile. We especially like and recommend Toka.
Fruit: A stone fruit; most trees take about a year to bear fruit. Some cultivars have a beautiful, thin skin (eatable) that can run the gambit between purple, black, red, and even into a light yellow color. Very sweet tasting and juicy; they are delightful eaten fresh from the tree. Simply wonderful on a hot summers day here in North Carolina to bite into a refrigerator chilled Plum.
Plums are very easy to grow and are especially well suited for the beginning small fruit gardener. They are most forgiving of soil types but do not like having their roots grow in water- root rot is a problem of overly wet soils.
Location: Simply put, they grow best in full sun; they are moderately wind tolerant; some shelter from continual, strong winds will help.
Temperature: Plum fruits grow best in warm areas but can actually grow in cooler areas than some other stone fruits.
Chilling: Chilling refers to the number of hours, 45 degrees F and under, during the dormancy period. All fruit and nut trees need a specific amount of chilling hours before they will produce fruit. The amount varies with each variety and the hours need not be continuous. For example as listed: (500 hours).
Soil/water/nutrients: Plums grow best in deep, well drained, loamy soils, although they are remarkably tolerant of even sandy and clay soils. Trees are only moderately nutrient hungry, but Plums will benefit from an annual addition of nutrients in the spring season. Any balanced fertilizer such as 8-8-8 or 10-10-10 would probably be fine.
Pruning: Trees need to be pruned to allow light and air to penetrate into the crown, which gives good leaf and fruit production, as well as reduces the risk of fungal diseases. Plum trees will benefit from an annual pruning in late autumn. Plum trees will tend to develop long, upright branches, so plan on pruning them back to a manageable size. Prune out all crossing branches and remove any suckers that sprout. Remember that Plums can effectively produce fruit on the same lateral spurs for three to five years.
Pests and diseases: Plums are remarkably disease and pest free when compared to other small fruits. Occasionally you might have to deal with aphids, scale, or caterpillars. Blossom blight and silverleaf are other possible diseases that hamper fruit production and sometimes prove fatal to the entire tree. Keep an eye for the birds and neighbors once fruit production kicks in.
There are several Asian and European Plum cultivars out there, but they all have different chilling requirements and do best in different climatic zones. Rabbit Ridge Nursery currently offers the following cultivars, which will do quite nicely in our area:
All Rabbit Ridge Nursery Plum trees are low chill; all are grafted onto superior Rootstock, and all will do very well in our Climatic Zone.
The following symbols located in the BLOOM TIME tab will help you as you refer to each Plum Variety we carry.
$ means needs Pollinizer
$$ means does better with a Pollinizer
** means grafted onto Mariana 26-24 Plum Rootstock
@@ means grafted onto Myrobalan Plum Rootstock
## means grafted onto St. Julian Plum Rootstock
!! means grafted onto Citation Plum Rootstock
^^ means grafted onto Krymnsk 1 Plum Rootstock
SF means Self Fertile Plum cultivar
(Click on Plum Variety to link to that Plum)
AVERAGE YEARS TO BEARING: 3 - 5 years
AVERAGE YIELD PER TREE: 40 - 60 pounds
SPACE NEEDED PER TREE: 15 foot circle
POLLINATION REQUIREMENTS: Cross with another Plum; be sure and use European varieties to pollinate European varieties and Japanese to pollinate Japanese varieties.
COMMON INSECT PESTS: Curculio, Apple maggot, mites, fruit moth
COMMON DISEASES: Brown rot, black knot, bacterial spot
USEFUL LIFE: 15 + years
NUMBER OF TREES FOR A FAMILY OF FOUR: 2 trees
BEARS FRUIT ON: One year old lateral wood