Plums

While plums are grown for commercial purposes in orchards, like other fruit trees, it can be fun and useful to have a plum tree in your garden. Plums can be grown in relatively small spaces, depending on the rootstock that is used. So why not give growing plums a go and enjoy picking your own plums from your own garden.

Growing Plums:

Even the smallest garden can host a small plum tree. They can even be grown in large containers, though it is imperative that you not allow the pot to dry out. Plums do have quite high moisture demands so they are best planted on good clay or loamy soils. But it is also important that the soil not become waterlogged as this is hated by plum trees and can cause all sorts of problems. Plums will love a sheltered spot and will be well against a south facing wall.

Plum trees should be planted in the dormant season between late autumn and early spring. Check when you make a purchase of a plum tree whether or not the tree you want is self-fertile. If you choose a self-infertile variety then you will have to plant more than one plum tree to make sure you achieve pollination and get fruit.

A judicious application of some form of nitrogen rich organic fertiliser in the middle of spring can help increase yield. Established trees will benefit from an organic mulch, which will keep down weeds and help with nutrient needs. Plum trees will also benefit from under-planting with a fruit tree 'guild' of beneficial companion plants like comfrey, borage, alliums and tansy as well as nitrogen fixing legumes. Since they have such strong nitrogen needs, competing with grass is not in their best interests and so it is best to plant alternatives or at least mulch heavily around the base of the tree to prevent grass from encroaching.

When the tree fruits in summer, you may find that some boughs have to be supported to prevent them breaking with the weight of the fruit. Unlike with other fruit trees like apple trees, plum trees should be pruned in spring or summer when they can recover more easily without risk of infection.

You will be able to tell if fruit is ripe because it will be soft when you squeeze it gently. Plums are best when left to ripen fully on the tree. Be careful not to bruise the fruit during harvest or they will go off more quickly.

Windfall fruit that has fallen to the ground can attract wasps, so if you find you get too many for safety then be sure to gather up any fallen fruit rather than leaving it where it is.

Why grow plums in the garden?

Plums are a fantastic addition to your home garden and need not take up too much space. Plum trees will be beloved of pollinating insects, attracting them to your garden early in the year. 

Quick Facts

Latin Name
Prunus Domestica