If you are a beginner in gardening and growing fruit trees is what interests you, then plums are the best choice. Plum trees have the unique speciality of a wide adaptation, more compact in space and demand less maintenance compared to any other fruit trees. Not only do these fruits are nectars of nature, but also stand as a symbol of beauty in your garden.
Plums belong to the family of stone fruit, in which peaches and nectarines are also included. In this guide, we will cover certain very important details about growing a plum tree in your garden such as how to plant plums, when do plum trees bloom, how to safeguard them from natural conditions and so on.
Plum trees grow in well-drained and fertile soil directly under the full sun. Frost is their enemy; hence avoid planting them in low-lying areas where frost can settle easily.
When you are growing plums, opt for planting more trees rather than just one. Some plants are self-fertile, which means that one tree is sufficient to bear fruits on it. But a majority of them require cross-pollination to bear fruit. Hence plant them with a spacing of 20 to 25 feet apart from each tree.
Did you know that there are specific plum trees which are best suited for your location? Plum trees fall under three categories; European plums, Japanese plums, and American hybrids, which is a hybrid of the first two categories. European plum trees grow in a moderate climate and are widespread in the US. The Japanese plums are delicate and thrive in a warm climate. The American hybrids are designed to survive the coldest of winters.
Pruning the Plum Trees
To ensure a good fruit set, pruning the plum trees is highly essential. Japanese plums require heavy pruning to keep them in shape and produce better fruits. This variety also bears fruits heavily, and it needs to be thinned on a regular basis to prevent the breaking of branches.
European varieties require minimal pruning and do not need thinning at all, as they do not bear fruits like the Japanese variety.
Pest and Disease Control
The problems, which plum trees face is diverse that is mainly the wind-borne bacterial and viral diseases. Plumtree diseases may slow down or even completely terminate the fruit production. Controlling the diseases as soon as you notice them is highly essential for your tree to flourish.
The most common plum diseases are:
- Black rot: formation of hard black growths on twigs and branches, which eventually circle the branches and kill them.
- Pocket plum disease: Swollen, discoloured and hollow fruits are the signs of a plum pocket
- Brown rot: The ripened fruits display brown spots on their skin and stay mummified on the tree.
- Plum pox virus: This disease is transmitted by aphids, which are tiny tree lice. The symptoms are discoloured rings on the leaves and fruits. Once the tree is affected by plum pox virus, there is no treatment and the tree has to be removed before the adjacent trees are affected.
- Perennial canker: This is a fungal infection which acts on the wood of the tree.
- Leaf spots: Bacterial leaf spots appear on the underside of the leaves. Continuous infestation leads to problems in the growth of the plum tree.
Usage of citrus fruit orchard spray, bug killer and regular pruning and thinning can prevent the spreading of the above diseases and save your tree at the right time.
When do Plum Trees Bloom?
Any beginner in gardening would have this question in mind, as to when to do plum trees bloom. After all that more happiness can you get after seeing the fruits of your hard work?
Plum trees start bearing fruits four to six years after planting them. They bloom the most in early springs, and the fruits ripen from May to September depending on the variety of plums and the climate. Even a little before spring onset they are highly susceptible to frost. Unfortunately, if the temperature drops to mid-20 degrees after the tree starts to bloom, none can save your plums.
When to Harvest?
It is hard to wait for tasting the delicious plums, especially when the harvest season is nearing. When the skin of the fruit has softened and feels delicate when you apply a little pressure with your fingers, the plums are all set to be plucked from the tree. A slight twist should easily bring the plums to your palms.
As the fruits cannot be stored for long, they have to be consumed immediately or preserved. You can store the fruit as it is for 2 to 4 weeks in the refrigerator. Making plums and jellies out of them are also ideal ways to use them for long.
What to do When Your Plum Trees are Not Fruiting?
After your plum trees bloom, you can easily recognize if the tree will bear fruits or not. After the blossoms drop, the ovary should be swollen with the beginning of a new fruit. If this is absent, then there is a problem with your tree to bear fruits this season. The following are the reasons why your trees will not bear fruit.
- A plum tree’s growth cycle undergoes a period of dormancy during cold weather conditions. Extreme cold weather during flowering will make the blossoms drop too early, and the plum tree fails to bear fruit.
- Insects which chew the flowers, shoots, and terminal ends also cause no fruit on the plum trees.
- Freezing temperatures also cause the flowers to wither. Without flower, there is no chance of fruits to develop.
- Lacks of nearby plum trees, which act as a co-pollinator are also another reason for the trees to bear fruit.
How to Make Your Plum Tree Bear Fruit?
With these steps, you can fix the problem of no fruit on your plum tree. By applying proper measures this season, you can make your tree bear fruit in the next season.
- Clear weeds and grass regularly at the base of the tree.
- Provide good irrigation facilities and apply natural fertilizers which are rich in phosphorous to make your tree flourish and bear fruit.
- Prune the trees when they are young.
- Plant the trees against the wind direction, to make your tree bear fruit easily.
We hope that this guide would have given an insight into growing plum trees and answered several of your basic questions such as when to do plum trees bloom, how to make them bear fruit, how to safeguard them from pests and insects.
Even after taking all the measures, if the trees do not bloom and bear fruit, wait till the next season. Patience and stewardship are necessary to enjoy the glorious sweet fruit from your plum tree again. Know more about other fruits and vegetable plantations on our different posts. Feel free to drop your comments below, regarding your doubts, the methods which you followed to reap plums successfully in your garden.