How to Choose and Plant a Plum Tree

Plums regained popularity after the introduction of dwarfing rootstocks and these heavy croppers are easy to grow even in small gardens. Here is Martyn Loach's advice on how to choose and plant plum trees.

Created by Martyn Loach on Thursday, 1st of January, 1970.
Updated on Thursday, 3rd of September, 2015.


Soil And Position

Although fairly tolerant, there is a preference for deep loamy or clay soils, pH 6.0 – 6.5. Damsons can be grown in shallower conditions. As many varieties tend to flower early, keep away from high ground or sheltered positions where the blossom may succumb to a spring frost.

Form And Height

Standard trees will grow very large, so choose an dwarf pyramid on 'Julian A' rootstock which will grow to about 9ft, is an attractive shape and the fruit is easy to pick. As an alternative, 'Pixy' rootstock will produce a smaller tree suitable for training.

Variety

Like other fruit trees, plums flower at different times but, as most varieties are self-fertile, they do not necessarily need another pollinating tree. They should however crop more heavily if they are cross pollinated.


All these varieties are self-fertile and as the flowering times do overlap, Victoria can for example pollinate Czar:

Early Flowering
Dennistons Superb Gage (an early sweet gage that is very hardy)
Merryweather Damson (heavy cropping all rounder for eating, jam and gin)
Victoria (for cooking or eating, reliable very heavy cropper)

Mid Flowering
Czar (easy to grow, hardy, good for cooking and jam)
Oullin's Golden Gage (large fruit, a good for storing)

Late Flowering
Majorie's Seedling (excellent for jam, late flowering to avoid frosts)
Shropshire Damson (strong flavour, makes the best jam)

Planting

Container grown trees can be planted at any time of the year. Water the tree while it is still in the container. If the soil is easy to work, it is necessary only to dig a hole slightly larger than the root ball. If the soil is poor, dig deeper and wider, and mix in some organic matter or fertiliser with the top soil that has been dug out. Take the tree from the container and tease out the roots quite vigorously if they are pot bound. Returning the top soil, plant the tree at the same level as it was in the container. Firm the soil. Place two short stakes inside the wall of the hole and a cross bar. Tie the trunk of the tree to the cross bar, water thoroughly and mulch.

For bare rooted trees, plant in their dormant period i.e. late autumn and winter. Dig a hole about 3ft in diameter, putting the top soil to one side. If the soil is poor, mix into the top soil some organic matter and fertiliser. Drive a sturdy stake (at least 2ins in diameter) deep into the hole, ensuring the top will be well several inches below the lowest branch. Fill the hole, shaking the tree to work the soil around the roots. Note the previous soil level (visible on the tree stem) and ensure that the tree is planted at the same level. Firm in, mulch and tie to stake.

Maintenance

Water well during dry spells. Apply a balanced feed and mulch in the spring bearing in mind that nitrogen rich manure is particularly good for plums. Fruit should be thinned to about 3ins apart with 3 or 4 in a cluster. Support branches that are heavily laden with fruit. Plums are susceptible to Silver Leaf, affected branches must be cut out and to avoid this disease occurring it is advisable not to prune in the winter months.

Related Articles

How To Choose, Plant And Maintain A Fruit Tree

How To Choose, Plant And Maintain A Fruit Tree

Late autumn and winter is the perfect time to plant fruit trees and, whatever sized garden you have, Martyn Loach thinks there's space for a tree if you choose carefully and manage correctly.

Author: Martyn Loach

Written by Martyn Loach.
Published on Tuesday, 4th of September, 2018.

GardenSite Donates Prize To Grow Your Own Picnic

GardenSite Donates Prize To Grow Your Own Picnic

As part of a project designed to sow ideas, grow inspiration and cultivate futures, 300 London schools are growing their own picnic this summer and their reward could be a £500 voucher from GardenSite.

Author: David Coton

Written by David Coton.
Published on Friday, 25th of May, 2018.

How Can I Make Compost?

How Can I Make Compost?

Composting is an entirely natural way of recycling your garden and kitchen waste, transforming it into a nutrient rich material that your plants will love. Martyn Loach shows how easy and cheap it is to replicate nature and create the ideal conditions in which your flowers and shrubs will thrive.

Author: Martyn Loach

Written by Martyn Loach.
Published on Friday, 4th of May, 2018.

What To Do In The Garden In May

What To Do In The Garden In May

Although the weather is feeling decidedly chilly for the time of the year, during May the threat of frost will pass and, with spring well under way, David Coton is in no doubt that this is going to be a busy month in the garden.

Author: David Coton

Written by David Coton.
Published on Monday, 30th of April, 2018.

comments powered by Disqus

Author

Martyn Loach

Editor in Chief

View Profile

RSS

View RSS Feed

Follow Us!

Recent Articles

How Easy Is It To Keep Chickens?

How Easy Is It To Keep Chickens?

Chickens aren't difficult to look after, all they require is a constant supply of water and regular food. As Martyn Loach explains, you should keep an eye open for any ailments, and they'll need to be cleaned out once a week.

Author: Martyn Loach

Written by Martyn Loach.
Published on Monday, 15th of October, 2018.

How Do I Construct And Maintain Timber Garden Decking?

How Do I Construct And Maintain Timber Garden Decking?

Timber garden decking never seems to lose its popularity, and why should it, when it's such a useful way of extending your living and entertaining space. Andy Taylor explains why decking is so easy to install and how best to look after it.

Author: Andrew Taylor

Written by Andrew Taylor.
Published on Thursday, 11th of October, 2018.

What Do I Need For A Great Halloween Garden Party?

What Do I Need For A Great Halloween Garden Party?

You can create the spookiest Halloween Party in town with a spine chilling cast of para-normal misfits including ghosts, ghouls, zombies, vampires and many other sinister characters who inhabit the dark side. David Coton tells you how to transform your home and garden into a thoroughly scary experience.

Author: David Coton

Written by David Coton.
Published on Wednesday, 10th of October, 2018.

What To Do In The Garden In October

What To Do In The Garden In October

In October, David Coton is getting the garden prepared for the onset of colder weather but, at the same time, the arrival of spring bulbs in the garden centre is a reminder that you should also now be planning ahead for next year.

Author: David Coton

Written by David Coton.
Published on Monday, 2nd of October, 2017.