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Growing Plum Trees

If you only have room for one fruit tree in your garden then let it be a Plum tree.
A Plum tree will fruit well even with a lack of attention. They are attractive trees with large amounts of fruit which will be enough for you and your neighbours as well as all the neighbouring birds.


Grow Plums like fertile, well drained soil. Clay soils are fine as long as they drain well. Apply Gypsum to assist in the drainage. Also feed with potash and lime annually. A well balanced fertilizer applied in late spring will help with the fruit crop.

Prune Plum trees in the summer months when they are growing strongly, straight after fruiting once your tree has begun to bear fruit. By pruning at this time reduces the spread of the Silver leaf, an infectious disease which is usually fatal to its host. The silver leaf fungous enters through wounds and if the sap is running it tends to keep the disease from entering. Once inside the tree Silver leaf quickly spreads like a cancer ,causing blockages in the tissues. Over a period of time branches die, then limbs and ultimately the whole tree succumbs .By the time you notice dead material in a tree the Silver leaf is well established and difficult to eradicate. It is best to remove any dead material, cutting back to live tissue. Always clean and disinfect your pruning tools before moving on to the next tree and burn all prunings. Orchardists bore small holes into infected trees and plug the holes with Trichoderma which are good living bacteria that travel throughout the sap system to attack the bad fungous. Although the silvering of leaves is an indicator of this disease in a tree, more often than not dead branches and premature autumn leaf colouring in affected branches will be the warning signs.

Japanese Plums bear their fruit on long lives spurs located on all branches ,including new shoots. On bare branches these spurs are easily distinguished from the flat leaf buds with their fat lumpy nodes. Japanese plums produce lots of branches which interlace or grow skyward. The main aim is to get an open tree to allow the sun to ripen the crop .Also keep the tree fairly low to make picking the fruit as easy a task as possible .Be happy to allow the birds to eat the fruit at the top of the tree. European Plum trees branch less freely and must be pruned carefully when young to encourage a good framework of branches lower down. Once this is established just cut back new growth to 60 cms and remove any crossed branches. If you never pruned your Plum tree it would not matter. The tree would crop well but just grow large and sprawling.

Most Plums need a pollinator. Even self fertile ones crop heavier with a pollinator. It is important to choose the right pollinators as all Plum varieties flower at slightly different times. If you can only have one then choose one that has either two different grafts on one tree or one with three. These trees also give you crops over an extended period.


Black aphids will arrive annually to curl and twist the young leaves in early spring. Luckily it is only one life cycle lasting around 3 weeks and the affected trees soon grow healthy new leaves once the pests have gone. If the aphids decided to stay it would be a major problem as the fruit would not have a food supply and I would have to resort to using a systemic insecticide.

Bladder plum is a nasty fungous disease that invades the ripening fruit to inflate the fruit like bladders. It tends to be a problem in warmer climates. The fruit becomes inedible and remains on the tree as mummified fruit. Pick any affected fruit off and burn, also rake up any that have fallen onto the ground. Spray the tree and ground under the tree in winter with copper.


Harvest Plums when fully ripe.They are a versatile fruit which can be made into jams, jellies ,sauces, bottled, frozen ,made into cakes and desserts or just eaten raw.Plums are very good for you and a childs favourite fruit.If you have room in the garden for a few trees then you can enjoy fresh Plums from Christmas until the end of March.


Plum varieties

European Plums

Angelina Burdett

Small to medium sized dark purple skin and flesh. Rich sugary highly flavoured fruit .Excellent for eating. Ripens mid January. Pollinator Reine Claude du Bavay

Coe’s Golden drop

Large oval yellow fruit. Rich in taste and juicy. Fruits early March. Pollinators Greengage, Reine Claude du Bavay.


A small tart oval fruit with blue skin and yellow green flesh. Superb for bottling, desserts and jams and jellies and Damson Gin.Can be eaten if left on the tree until they are about to fall. Ripens late February. Self fertile. No need to prune


Small to medium sized delicious tasting fruit. Greenish yellow skin with yellow flesh.Tends to fruit every second year.Ripens mid February. Pollinators Angelina Burdett ,Coes Golden drop

Reine-Claude du Bavay

A magnificent Greengage plum that fruits heavily and reliably. Richly flavoured fruit have a greenish yellow skin with an orange blush. Delicious eating plum. Ripens late february

Japanese Plums

Black Amber

Large almost black skin with juicy sweet yellow flesh. Superb eating, pies, puddings and sauces. Ripens from end of January. Pollinator is Santa Rosa


Large bright red fruit with sweet juicy yellow flesh. Excellent for eating and bottling. A heavy cropper. Fruit ripens mid February. Pollinators are Santa Rosa, Sultan

Elephant Heart

Very large heart shaped fruit. Freestone sweet juicy plum that is red to the heart. Excellent for eating, bottling and freezing. Ripens late February. Pollinators are Santa Rosa, Sultan

Santa Rosa

A big cone shaped plum with deep purple skin and yellow, pink tinged flesh. Juicy and tangy. Superb for eating and bottling. Ripens late January. An excellent pollinator for all plums except the European varieties,


Medium sized rounded fruit are red and meaty with a small freestone. Makes fabulous jams, jellies and superb for bottling as well as eating. Forms an attractive spreading small tree. Ripens early February. Pollinator Santa Rosa.


Medium sized rounded yellow skin and flesh. Very sweet and juicy .Great for eating ,bottling and freezing. Ripens late January. Pollinator Santa Rosa


Large dark red skin and flesh. Meaty ,juicy and highly flavoured. Excellent for eating ,jams, sauces and bottling. A small spreading tree that bears reliably. Ripens early February. Pollinators Burbank, Elephant Heart, Omega, Santa Rosa.

Cherry Plum cross hybrids


First plum with red skin and flesh to ripen in the season. Crops around Christmas. Slightly tart flavour. Excellent for eating, jam and sauces. A very reliable cropper and pollinator. Pollinators Black Doris, Wilsons Early

Black Doris

Dark purple black fruit with deep red sweet juicy flesh Freestone.. Excellent for eating ,jams and bottling. Ripens late February. Pollinators are Billington ,Elephant Heart, Santa Rosa

Duffs Early Jewell

Medium to large dark red skinned fruit with yellow flesh. Ready for Christmas eating .Great for eating and sauces. Self fertile.


Medium to large rounded heart shaped fruit. Red and yellow skin and yellow flesh. Firm flesh is sweet and juicy and these plums keep well. Freestone. Ripens early March. Pollinator Santa Rosa


Large fruit with dark red skin and flesh. Sweet juicy firm flesh, freestone. An all rounder for eating, jams, sauces freezing and bottling. Ripens mid February. Pollinator Santa Rosa


Medium sized rounded fruit have a green and red speckled skin with red flesh. Very juicy with a sweet flavour. An excellent all purpose fruit for eating, bottling, freezing, jams and sauces. A reliable and heavy bearer .Ripens March. Pollinators Billington, Elephant Heart, Santa Rosa, Sultan

Purple King

Very large purple skinned fruit with yellow firm juicy flesh. Freestone. Fruits reliably in warm climates. An all rounder for eating and culinary. Ripens late February. Pollinators Omega, Wilsons Early

Wilsons Early

Small to medium sized fruit are yellow, overlaid red with yellow flesh. Juicy fruit with a tart flavour. Ripens just before Christmas. Pollinators Billington, Black Doris, Omega, Santa Rosa.


These are European plums with very high sugar levels. They are typically oval in shape. Prunes are high in sodium, fat free and a good source of fibre. They are considered to be antioxidant superstars. Most are self fertile but heavier crops are set with more than one plum tree in the garden. They are later fruiting in the season and can be eaten fresh, dried or bottled.

Cacak Fruitful

Very sweet smallish freestone fruit with amber flesh and purple skin


The worlds most popular prune plum. Dark purple skin with light amber flesh. This reddens when cooked. Freestone with fine textured, rich flavour and sweet flesh.

Richards Early Italian

Ripens two weeks earlier than above with sweeter more productive crops.

Stanley A prolific cropper and an excellent pollinator. Dark blue skinned fruit with sweet and juicy golden flesh


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