When you are mastering your art of gardening and your love for your plants and tree, there is a good grab for you to proceed to—growing a Plum Tree!
Plums are luscious and soul-filling fruits that you can have plenty of- if a plum tree enhances your garden view. Plums are fruits for colds, and they expect a little more love and care. Once they are loved and nurtured well, you get a basket full of this delicious happiness called dark red plums.
This hardy plant comes in wide varieties, and the best part is that it can bear cold winters as well. If you reside in a place that has cold winters, you should choose the “American Hybrid Plum” type. Some are great for the cold winters, like those available in USDA Hardiness Zone-3.
Gardeners living in moderate cold winters should look for American Hybrid or European Plum types like Prunus Domestica, Green Gage, Stanley, or Damson Plums. Those with mild winters in their areas should opt for Japanese Type Prunus Salicina, i.e., Methley and Satsuma plums. They are considered significant in warm atmospheres, just like the peach trees.
How to Grow A Plum Tree From A Seed?
It is a beautiful, enchanting, fragrant process for every garden lover. Plum Trees are a delight to see them grow and reach the harvest day with smiles and shine of happiness and satisfaction on our faces.
Late Winters or Early Springs are a convenient time to plant plum trees as bare root trees. It encourages their chance to grow with full-fledged energy with the new weather.
If the Plum Tree is container-grown or bur lapped and thus not dormant anymore, you can plant them in the early summers before the weather gets hot.
Consider the below points when you plant the Plum Trees:
1. Locate the Perfect Spot For Plantation
You need to select a place full of sunlight as the plum tree produces the sweetest fruits when put in full sun. Prefer well-draining soil, the fertile soil of clay and sand containing humus rich with organics.
It depends on the variety of the plum tree you have selected – whether your tree is self-pollinating or needs a second tree for cross-pollination.
If your type isn’t self-pollinating, you must choose a comprehensive spot for growing two mature trees. If you have planted standard-size varieties, you will need 20 feet of land. And for dwarf varieties, you will need 10 feet.
2. Stratification of Seeds
Stratification happens when you place seeds in moist soil to preserve them or to help them germinate. You keep the seeds close together in layers in the soil. You can try stratifying in two ways.
One is to plant them in pots and put them outdoors, and get chilled in natural ways during the winter season. The other way is to stratify the seeds in the refrigerator cold. The second one works better for most of them as we can control the temperature there, and the seeds are safe from squirrels.
First, you can collect the plum pit from a fully ripe fruit plum. Wash it properly, removing every fruit remnant from the pits. Now let it dry on a kitchen towel.
Start to prepare a container for the stratification. You can choose a plastic food container or a plastic bag for it. Make some tiny holes in the lid so that the air can enter. You can fill the bag/container with a half wet mixture of half peat and half coarse moss.
Now put the seeds well in the mixture and place the container properly in the refrigerator. A plum seed requires 90 days of cold stratification to germinate well in the springs. Make sure you keep it moist but don’t get it soggy.
Also Read:- How to Grow a Bonsai Tree from Seed?
3. Growing Plums From a Seed
A plum seed requires shine and brightness with warm temperatures for good germination. The best starting period is in springs after the frost is over.
Take a decent nursery container of around 8 to 10 inches and fill it with seed-starting compost. You can also mix half potting soil with half coarse sand; that is the best mixture for germinating the stratified plum pits.
The container must have holes at the base. Put the plum seed in the container at a depth of 2 inches distance. Now place the container outside where there is no shade and all bright lights.
The recommended daytime temperatures should be 86 degrees F and nighttime temperature around 68 degrees to germinate plum pits. You can warm the pot with a heating coil or heating mat for proceeding towards germination.
A well-stratified plum seed can take a few months to germinate, though you should keep checking for the sprouts in a month.
4. The Seedlings Transplant
Plum seedlings are to be grown in pots for around a year or two as they can make a strong root system before they are transplanted to garden areas. It would help if you kept them shaded like in front of a south-faced wall or some shade.
They are supposed to be watered regularly but only after the soil dries out so that there are no root issues. You can transplant the plum seedlings in your garden when the soil warms in springs.
According to some research, Plum Trees grow best in Hardiness zones 4 to 9, as mentioned earlier. It is recommended to plant the plum tree on a gentle slope. It makes the cold air drain away.
The planting location should be fertile with fast-draining soil and full of sunlight. A mature plum tree grows huge, so please keep in mind the space you need to maintain while you plant them.
Keep the planting pit big to hold the plum seedling’s root ball without bending or cramping them. You must spread a layer of mulch of thickness around three inches around the base of the plant.
You should water the plum trees weekly for one year during the hot summers.
How to Care For Plum Tree?
Here are few Tips which help you to take care for Plum Tree.
Your plum tree requires heavy weekly watering during the first year or the first two years. If you choose the drip system, it will make the water reach deep in the soil and help the tree to grow stronger roots. For grown-up trees, you can water them on a semi-regularly basis.
Prune plum tree at least once during the growing season. You need to ensure your tree is free from pests and infections like aphids and silver leaf diseases. For young trees, you can choose the early spring season. It would be best if you never pruned in autumn or winter. It leads to frost and infections.
Different varieties require different types of pruning. Japanese plum trees tend to grow quite thick. Thus many gardeners go for an open center tree, pruning the middle branches and keeping the many large branches out, warding from the tip.
On the other hand, American Hybrid and European Plum trees don’t need much pruning. Many gardeners opt for the center leader tree, which leads them to shape it like a Christmas Tree.
A plum tree can produce many fruits on a single branch to bear with. It can get loaded with plums. Sometimes the branch breaks with the weight of ripe fruits.
To prevent such situations, you must thin the fruit regularly. Every fruit should be at least three to four inches away from the other fruits of the Japanese type. It should be two inches away in the European and American plum types.
One should fertilize the plum trees once every year. The ideal time for their fertilization is in the early springs before the fruits grow. Use the all-purpose fertilizer and aged compost.
Do not try to fertilize the tree once the fruiting starts. Any new growth by the fertilizer can divert the energy to other actions than fruit production.
There are two types of plum trees in pollination- Self Pollinated and Cross Pollinated. If your plum tree type is not self-pollinated, then it will require a tree nearby for pollinating to create fruits.
You must keep your garden hospitable to pollinators like bees. Don’t spray insecticides when your plum tree is flowering.
How to Harvest Plums?
The harvesting pattern depends on the type of plum tree you have planted.
It would be best to harvest the American hybrid or European Plum when you feel the fruit’s skin sounds soft when squeezed gently. The plum easily detaches from the branch when you twist it a little. Now they are ready to be eaten immediately.
Go to the Japanese Plums a little earlier. You should go when the fruit is good in color and soft by touch. Then after, you need to keep them aside indoors and let them ripen for a few days before you eat them.
Plums can’t be kept outside for very long. So, if you get to store them for long, you must keep them refrigerated.