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Plum Trees

PLUMS




PLUMS

Prunus spp


The new Gulf-series of plums have been bred for the southeastern Gulf and Atlantic coasts by the University of Florida that will fruit successfully as far south as southern Florida. Plums are unique in that they need high heat hours to grow, but only low chilling hours to start flowering. These Japanese-type plums (not like the European prune-plums) have excellent, sweet fruit.

Traditional varieties such as Methley and Santa Rosa do well in higher chill regions and along the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts (Zones 6-8).

Plums are easy to grow. Plant on a hillside if possible for air-drainage, to reduce damage from late-season frosts. They require 2 varieties for pollination and can also be pollinated by wild Chickasaw plums. Plums have a beautiful display of white flowers in the spring. They are susceptible to borers and brown rot on the fruit.


Site Selection

Well-drained sandy loam soils are preferred, but plums will grow on many soil types if good drainage is provided.

Plums will grow more vigorously and produce more fruit in full sun. Avoid frost pockets- plums may be damaged by unseasonable frosts. Prepare the area by removing any weeds prior to planting. This step is often over looked but is absolutely critical to any successful planting. Weeds and grass steal light, water and nutrients from your trees.

Soil and Planting

Well-drained, sandy loam soils are preferred, but plums will grow on many soil types if good drainage is provided. Plums will grow more vigorously and produce more fruit in full sun.

Plums prefer slightly acidic soil (pH 6.0 - 6.5).

Dig a planting hole approximately two times the width of the pot and at the same depth as the root ball. Set that soil aside and mix it 50/50 with either aged compost or aged manure. Remove the plant from the pot, gently loosen the root ball and place in the planting hole. Set the tree in the middle of the hole. Using some soil, secure the tree in a straight position. To avoid burying too deep, make sure plant is positioned with the top most roots at the soil line. Fill the planting hole with the native soil and mixed soil with organic matter; gently tamp it in. Water thoroughly to settle the roots and eliminate air pockets. Do NOT put fertilizer in the planting hole. Only apply fertilizer if it is the correct time of year. If desired, construct a water basin around the base of the tree approximately 36 inches in diameter. Keep an area approximately 4 feet in diameter around the apple clear of grass and weeds to minimize competition for water and nutrients.

Mulch in spring and summer with approximately 4-6 inches of mulch. Mulch around the trunk pulling the mulch a few inches away from the trunk on the top of the ground. In spring, we suggest a mix of compost and weed-free hay as mulch. In summer, use weed-free hay or grass clippings alone. Shredded pine bark and pine needles are also good mulches.


Spacing

Spacing for plums depends upon the desired use in the landscape. Trees should be at least 15-20' apart, but no further than 20' apart, to ensure cross pollination.

Fertilization

The type of fertilizer you choose may be chemical or organic. Make sure that the fertilizer contains iron, zinc, manganese, magnesium, molybdenum, copper and boron. These minor elements are very important to plants and most soils are low in these elements. Application rates vary according to age of plant. You can use Espoma Citrus Tone (Organic). Spread the fertilizer evenly under the entire canopy of the plant avoiding a 5-inch area around the trunk. Water or rake in.

For Zones 8a-10, fertilize 3 times each year in March after bud break, late May and late July/early August. For plants further north (Zones 6-7), fertilize in March after bud break.

Never fertilize after August (June in Zones 6-7) as this will promote new growth late in the year which will be subject to freeze damage. Excess fertilizer or pruning stimulates too much vegetative growth, promoting fireblight. An average of 6 inches of shoot growth on bearing trees is optimal. If trees need to be pruned heavily (as for an older tree that needs rejuvenating), don’t fertilize for a year or two.

Water

The first year is a critical time for the establishment of a new plum. Water thoroughly twice a week on light soils and once a week on clay soils. Soak the entire root system deeply.

Water regularly, especially during dry periods.

Fruit may drop prematurely if insufficiently irrigated during dry spells. Keep an area approximately 4 feet in diameter around the plum clear of grass and weeds to minimize competition for water and nutrients. Pruning the plum natural tendency is to grow upright, creating narrow crotches that tend to break under heavy fruit loads. To avoid this, early training is a must. Pegging the tree will insure a form that will bear heavy fruit loads. At planting select 3-4 scaffold branches spaced equally around the trunk and remove other branches flush with the trunk. These scaffold limbs should be pegged down to insure a form that will bear heavy fruit loads. You want the tree to have good air circulation in the interior.

Pruning

Plums in the South are usually pruned to an open center habit. At planting select 3-4 scaffold branches spaced equally around the trunk and remove other branches flush with the trunk. In the second dormant season, top the scaffold limbs approximately 36 inches from the trunk to encourage secondary branching. Remove any strong branches growing into the center. You want the tree to have good air circulation in the interior. Continue to train plum trees during the first 5 years. Pruning should be designed to train the tree outward by removing strong branches growing into the center and removing water sprouts. The tree can be topped out at 7 or 8 foot with mold and hold cuts, which are devigorating heading cuts made into two year old wood. Do this by topping back the main scaffold limb to a weaker outward growing shoot. This will keep the tree at an easy picking height as well as stimulate new growth lower on the tree Mature trees are pruned during the dormant season. Thin out weak branches and head back long shoots as needed to maintain tree shape. Remove water sprouts. Remove any dead, damaged or diseased branches when pruning. Use mold and hold cuts to maintain trees to an easy picking height. To grow the biggest peaches, plums and nectarines, thin small fruit to no more than 1 fruit per 6 inches of branch.


Height: 10-15'
Spread: 5-10'

Tree Form: Open-center vase

Pollination: Plant 2 Gulf plum varieties for cross-pollination
Flowers: Feb-Mar
Bears: May in 1-2 years
Light requirements: Full sun
Soil type: Well-drained pH 5.5-6.5
Pruning: Prune remove dead wood and train or shape the tree. See Pruning section above
Maintenance: Easy
Hardiness Zone: 6-10 - Plant the right chill hour cultivar for your location


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Products 1-8 of 8
Black Ruby Plum
Availability: Pick-up Only
Price: $24.95


Item #: Black Ruby Plum - Black Ruby - PRUNUS salicinaDeer like plums, and they are one of the only fruit to bear in early summer. Black Ruby is a Japanese hybrid plum, with large, reddish black fruit and sweet, yellow flesh...
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    Ruby Sweet Plum
    Availability: Pick-up Only
    Price: $24.95


    Item #: Ruby Sweet Plum -
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      Gulf Beauty Plum
      Availability: Out of Stock
      Price: $26.95


      Item #: Gulf Beauty Plum - Early ripening Japanese-style plum with excellent yellow flesh, deep red skin and excellent flavor. Developed by the University of Florida. Plant with another plum variety with the same chill hours...
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        Gulf Blaze Plum
        Availability: Pick Up Only - 5 gallon - $26.95 each
        Price: $26.95


        Item #: Gulf Blaze Plum - Early ripening Japanese-style plum with excellent orange flesh, burgundy skin and very sweet flavor. Developed by the University of Florida. Pollinator for all Gulf series plums. Prolific white...
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          Gulf Gold Plum
          Availability: Out of Stock
          Price: $24.95


          Item #: Gulf Gold Plum - A dwarf, low chill yellow-fleshed plum with excellent flavor. Gets a red blush when completely ripe. Beautiful flower display in early spring. Ripens in May. 250 Chill hours. Excellent from South...
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            Gulf Rose Plum
            Availability: Out of Stock
            Price: $26.95


            Item #: Gulf Rose Plum - Japanese-style plum with red flesh, deep red skin and very sweet flavor. Developed by the University of Florida. Pollinator for all Gulf series plums. Prolific white spring bloom. 250 Chill hours,...
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              Gulf Ruby Plum
              Availability: Out of Stock
              Price: $24.95


              Item #: Gulf Ruby Plum - Early ripening yellow fleshed, red skinned Japanese-style plum with excellent flavor. Developed by the University of Florida. Needs pollinator. Gorgeous white spring bloom. 250 Chill hours,...
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                Scarlet Beauty Plum
                Availability: Pick-up Only
                Price: $24.95


                Item #: Scarlet Beauty Plum - A very low chill Japanese-style plum with red flesh and excellent flavor. Developed by the nurseryman and plant breeder Ronald Lambert of Wachula, FL, a close friend of Dr. Dunstan....
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                  Products 1-8 of 8