Plant plums in full sun in very well-drained soil. Dwarf trees should be planted 12 feet apart and allow 15 feet between rows.
Plums benefit from complete granular or spike fertilizer. Feed them in the fall or winter. Do not overfeed with nitrogen. Fertilizer with a high middle number (3-5-3) works well as it promotes fruit and flower production.
Young plum trees should be pruned to encourage an upright habit. As they age, prune to develop good strong scaffold branches and an open, spreading habit. Center sprouts and older fruiting wood should be removed on older trees. Asian varieties may require additional thinning, as they tend to be heavy producers. For finer details there are many good pruning books available.
Disease and Pest Control
Insects including scale, mites, and aphids can reduce yields and increase stress on trees. Peach Tree Borer can kill weak and young trees. Leaf Spot and Brown Rot are occasional problems. Timed preventative sprays provide the best protection against most of these pests. See a Spray Schedule for more details.
Most European plums/prunes are self-fertile, however their yields will generally be better with another tree (even of the same variety) for a pollen source. The Asian plums require another variety of pollen to set fruit. Beauty and Satsuma serve as good pollinators for most other varieties.
Download a complete information sheet on plums including popular plum varieties.
Brooks – Late variety ripens in late September. Large sweet plums taste great fresh and are top quality dried. Originated in Oregon it is the backbone of the Oregon prune industry. Very productive and completely self-fertile.
Italian – Reliable yields of rich flavored large purple, freestone plums with yellow-green flesh. Great for drying and canning, as well as fresh eating. Ripens in late August.
French Petite – Small to Medium sized thin-skinned violet-purple prune, with greenish- yellow nearly freestone flesh. Its flavor is mild and sugary great for eating fresh, drying, desserts and canning. Ripens September.
Beauty – Early variety that ripens in Early August. Medium to large red-yellow plums are juicy and sweet. A good pollinator. Use fresh does not store well.
Blue Damson – Late variety that ripens in September. Fruit is deep purple-black with amber flesh and a spicy tart flavor. Great for preserves, fresh eating and wine.
Burbank – Ripens in August. Fruit has amber-pink skin with super-sweet, excellent flavor. An old garden classic.
Elephant Heart – Late variety ripens mid-September. Very large red-purple plums are very juicy and sweet. Excellent fresh, frozen or canned.
Green Gage – Ripens in late August. Fruit is green, with faint amber flesh. Very sweet and juicy. Great fresh or for jams, but doesn’t store well. Self fertile.
Peach Plum – A cross between a peach and a plum, appearing as a large plum with peachy flavor. Yum! Great for fresh eating and preserves. Ripens in August.
Plum Cot – Hybrid cross of an apricot and plum. Large fruit with yellow-blushed, red skin. Juicy, aromatic apricot flavor. Ripens in June. Needs to cross-pollinate with another plum.
Santa Rosa – Ripens in late July. Large dark red-purple fruit are firm and of a good quality.
Satsuma – Mid-season variety ripens in mid-to-late August. Medium dark red plums are sweet and firm. Excellent flavor fresh or cooked – great for preserves. Good pollinator.
Shiro – Very early variety that ripens in late July. Medium plums are yellow, firm and sweet. Great flavor fresh, cooked, or canned.
Superior – Cherry-red plums ripen July to August. Very hardy tree. A flavorful dessert plum, very sweet and juicy with yellow flesh. Highly productive. Clingstone.