A member of the Rose family, and related to cherries, peaches, and apricots.
While up to 40 species can be called plums, only three species are grown commercially.
Depends on rootstock and cultivar. Often 20' high and wide.
White to pink, five petals. Japanese plum flowers are more
clustered and numerous than those of the European plum.
Late winter or spring. Japanese plums bloom earlier than European ones
and are more frost-prone.
Depends on cultivar. Most need a different cultivar nearby.
Years before fruiting:
Round to oval in shape, smooth skin can be dark blue, purple, red
or yellow. Juicy flesh. The single seed is enclosed in a hard woody shell.
Months for fruit to ripen:
Storage after harvest:
Unripe (hard) plums should be left at room temperature
in a bowl for several days until ripe. After that, they can be placed in a crisper
drawer of a refrigerator up to one week. Eat as soon as possible. Slice, remove
the pit, and freeze for longer storage.
Green, oval to lance-shaped.
Some cultivars may have thorns.
Cuttings are grafted onto a compatible prunus rootstock.
Some rootstocks reduce size, some are disease resistant.
Species of Note:
Prunus domestica: European Plum - grown for
dried plums (prunes).
Prunus salicina: Japanese Plum - produce the
largest fruit and are grown for the fresh plum market in the United
Prunus insititia: Damson Plum - the smallest
fruit, grown for jams and jellies.
Prunus domestica x armeniaca: Pluot -
three-quarters European Plum and one-quarter Apricot. These trees
have the same characteristics as plums and are grown the same way.
Dozens of cultivars have been developed.
Toxic / Danger:
Seeds and leaves contain small amounts of cyanide.
P. domestica originated in Western Asia.
P. salicina originated in China. P. insititia existed as
a wild species in Europe before the arrival of the 'European Plum'.
Cultivation and Uses
USDA hardiness zones: 4-9.
Chill hours: Look for trees with low chill hours, such as: 'Burgundy'
and 'Methley' 150-300, 'Gulf Gold' and 'Gulf Ruby' 250, 'Satsuma' and
'Santa Rosa' 300 and the pluot 'Flavor Grenade' 200-300.
Heat tolerant: Yes for many low-chill cultivars.
Sun: Full sun.
Drought tolerant: Yes for some cultivars.
Water after becoming established: Deep water at least monthly in warm months
to increase resistance to insect predation. Regions with minimal summer rainfall and
low humidity experience fewer fungal disease problems.
Soil: Well drained, deep, moderate organic content, pH 5.6-6.5
(acidic to slightly acidic). More tolerant of soil types than most Prunus species.
Apply a standard 10-10-10 fertilizer twice a year, early spring and early summer,
unless the tree has grown vigorously the previous year, then fertilize only
once at start of spring. Use one pound of 10-X-X fertilizer
for every year of tree age up to five pounds. The
first year the tree is planted, only one-half pound is needed
six to eight weeks after planting.
Spread the fertilizer evenly out to the drip line and one foot
away from the roots. Water immediately. Compose with aged manure can be
applied once in early spring instead.
Mulch: Pull weeds and mulch every spring to reduce weeds and retain soil
moisture. Remove mulch in the fall so pests cannot use it to overwinter.
Shredded bark or wood chips are often recommended as mulch for fruit trees,
but they can result in nitrogen deficiency in the soil.
Planting: Space trees based on mature width, often 18-22'.
Prune: In late winter or early spring, remove dead, crossing or damaged
branches. Remove oldest wood to open canopy to sunlight in vase
shape with an open center and no central vertical leader. Remove
unwanted, excess new growth. Flowers bloom on one-year and older wood.
Remove excess marble-sized young fruit so that only one is
present every 6-8" along branch to avoid branch breakage.
Litter: Leaves and fruit, if not harvested, in fall.
Propagation: Cuttings grafted on special rootstock.
Seed does not come true and the quality of the resulting tree is uncertain.
Uses: Edible fruit.
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