How to Grow Plums: Tips from the Experts at Tips Tree Planting

How to Grow Plums: Tips from the Experts at Tips Tree Planting

Learn how to plant and grow plums for a northern climate

Are you ready to add plums to your garden but unsure of where to start? Look no further! In this article, we’ll provide you with expert tips on how to grow plums in a northern climate. From planting to care and maintenance, we’ve got you covered. Let’s get started!

So Many Varieties to Choose From!

Plums (Prunus) come in a wide range of varieties, making it hard to choose just one. At Tips Tree Planting, we recommend American plums for their hardiness in USDA zone 4. European plums are self-fruitful and less hardy, while Japanese varieties thrive in warmer regions. Don’t forget about native plums and pluots, which offer unique flavors and characteristics.

Most plum trees are small-sized, reaching heights of 12 to 15 feet. Whether you prefer green, yellow, red, or purple-skinned fruits with sweet or tart flesh, plums are perfect for eating fresh or making jams and jellies.

When to Plant Plum Trees

For bare root plum trees, we recommend ordering from a mail-order nursery and planting in early spring as soon as the ground can be worked. If you prefer container plum trees, visit your local garden center in spring or summer to find the perfect one for your garden.

Choosing the Perfect Spot

Plums thrive in full sun and well-drained soils. While American and European varieties tolerate heavy clay soils, Japanese varieties prefer warmer climates. If you’re concerned about late spring frosts, opt for a north-facing slope to delay blooming.

Planting the Plum Tree

When planting standard-sized plum trees, space them 15 to 20 feet apart. For semi-dwarf varieties, allow 12 to 15 feet between trees, and for dwarf trees, choose a spacing of 8 to 10 feet. Dig a hole twice the size of the root ball and ensure that the graft union (the bulge on the tree trunk) is 2 inches above the soil line.

Essential Care and Maintenance

To ensure the health and productivity of your plum trees, remember to:

  • Keep the trees well-watered and weed-free.
  • Clear a 4-foot area around the tree of grass and weeds during the early years.
  • Create a moat around the tree to catch water.
  • Mulch with shredded bark or straw, keeping it away from the trunk.
  • Fertilize with compost every spring.
  • Prune according to the specific tree type (American, European, or Japanese).
  • Watch out for insects and diseases like black knot fungus and plum curculio.

Harvesting the Delicious Rewards

Knowing when to harvest your plums is crucial. Gently twist the fruits, and if they come off the tree easily and have reached the correct color for the variety, they’re ready to be picked. American and European plums should ripen on the tree but shouldn’t be left too long to avoid mushy flesh. Japanese plums can be harvested early and will continue to ripen indoors.

Recommended Plums Varieties

Looking for specific plum varieties to try in your garden? Consider these options:

  • American plums: ‘Toka,’ ‘Waneta,’ and ‘Underwood’
  • European plums: ‘Superior,’ ‘Damson,’ and ‘Stanley’
  • Japanese plums: ‘Santa Rose,’ ‘Shiro,’ and ‘Early Golden’

For more information on growing plums and other gardening tips, visit Tips Tree Planting. Get ready to enjoy a bountiful harvest of juicy plums!

*Note: The original podcast transcript and additional information have been omitted to provide you with the most relevant and concise tips for growing plums in a northern climate.