Plum Trees Are Not Just About Fruit!
The plum tree is one of the most popular ornamental trees in America. It grows naturally in many parts of the world, but it is mainly cultivated in Europe and North America. The plum tree is a member of the linden family (Lamiaceae).
There are over 200 species of this genus, with approximately 20 different cultivars grown commercially worldwide. All plum trees have three main types: white, pink or red. White plum trees are the most common type used for commercial purposes. They are usually planted in the springtime and harvested in late summer or fall. Pink plum trees are typically planted later than white varieties, but they tend to bear fruit earlier, often in early winter. Red plum trees produce their fruits later than other types of plum trees, so they generally don’t make good houseplants because they aren’t ready until after Christmas time.
Growing Conditions For Plums: How To Take Care Of Plum Trees
Plum trees require a warm climate, moist soil and lots of sunlight. If these conditions are not met, the plum tree will not thrive. Most plum trees prefer fertile soils with well drained loamy soil.
They also need plenty of moisture during the day and at night. A sunny location is best for growing plum trees because they like bright light during the day and shade at night. These plants cannot tolerate frost or freezing conditions. In most parts of the US (with the exception of southern states), they should be grown in containers and placed in a sunny location, such as a patio, porch or deck. If you live in a warmer climate, you can plant your plum tree in the ground, but it needs to be in a shaded area that is protected from the wind. These trees cannot survive in an exposed area.
How To Take Care Of Plum Trees
When growing plum trees in containers, you must be sure to drain all of the water from the soil after each watering. These trees need more soil than most other plants, so it’s important to add organic material, such as manure or compost to the planting hole when you first plant your tree. You should also fertilize your tree monthly when it is actively growing.
Fertilizer helps to promote healthy growth and ripening of the fruit. Your plum tree will need to be watered on a regular basis. Don’t allow the soil to dry out. These plants cannot survive without water for long periods of time. If you begin to notice browning of the leaves or breakage, your plant needs water right away.
You should harvest your plums as soon as they ripen, if you allow them to stay on the tree past their prime, they will fall off and rot. You can pick them yourself, or you can use a pole with a string tied to it that you can sling the fruit into a bucket placed on the ground. After picking all of the ripe fruit, you should prune your tree back by one fourth of its height.
This will promote new growth and hopefully result in a bigger harvest next year.
Common Problems With Plum Trees
There are several common problems that affect plum trees. Some of these are improper planting, over or under watering, and lack of nutrients. If your tree is struggling to survive, you should carefully inspect it for insects and disease.
A healthy plant should be able to fight off any pests or illnesses present. In addition, you will want to make sure that the tree is not planted in an area that is always wet or underwater. Try to prevent your tree from excessive moisture so that it can properly drain. If your tree is sickly looking, you should investigate its health before taking any action to remedy the situation. When in doubt, have a specialist take a look at your plant.
Pruning Your Plum Tree
When pruning your plums, there are several different techniques that you can use. In the first year of growth, you should head the tree (cut the stem back to around 3 feet). This should be done when the tree is young and still only reaches around 7 feet in height.
You can also let your tree grow naturally, without pruning. This will result in a larger harvest of fruit. Another popular technique involves pruning the tree back hard (by up to two thirds) every 2 or 3 years. When you do this, you’ll get a large number of plums the following year that are largely self-fertile. If you choose this method, you should remove all but 15% of the oldest and least healthy branches and prune the rest back hard.
If you live in an area with heavy winds, you may need to stake your trees to prevent them from being ripped out of the ground.
Harvesting Your Plums
One of the most important parts of growing plums is harvesting them at just the right time. If you wait too long, the plums won’t be as sweet. If you pick them too early, they won’t ripen properly and will be sour and inedible.
There are several different ways to tell when your plums are ready to be picked. The traditional way is to gently tug on a fruit and inspect the skin for a red or purple tinge on the underside of the skin where it was pulled.
You can also gently squeeze the fruit. If it gives a little, but the skin still seems to have a firmness to it, then it is ready to be picked. It is best to pick plums using both of the above methods combined.
You should also know that not all plums ripen at the same time, even if they’re on the same tree. You should check all of your fruit regularly as some may be ready to pick and others not quite yet.
Common Problems With Plums
Plums are susceptible to a large number of diseases that can cause your entire crop to fail. When growing plums, you should keep your eye out for any signs of discoloration or spotting on the leaves or branches. If you see anything odd, you should take a sample of the diseased material and send it to a laboratory to be tested.
This will tell you what exactly the problem is so that you know how to treat it or how to remove the infected part of the tree.
Another problem you might have to deal with is the plum curculio, which are small yellowish-green weevils. They lay their eggs inside plums and the larvae feed on the fruit inside. You’ll know if you have these beetles around as you’ll find empty shells with small holes in them.
If you have this problem, you can spray your tree with a special pesticide.
Popular Varieties of Plums
There are hundreds of different types of plums, each of which has different qualities and flavors. Some popular varieties include:
Santiam – These plums are large and oval in shape with a greenish-yellow skin that has a red blush. They’re fairly juicy, but have a mealy texture. They’re good for eating fresh and can also be made into preserves.
Blue Beaut – These oval plums have a bluish-purple coloring and bloom in May. They’re sweet and juicy with a firm texture and are great for eating fresh or cooking.
Lane Late – These plums range from green to purple in color. They’re juicy with a sweet flavor and firm texture. They’re good for canning, drying, baking, and juicing.
Beason – These small plums are oval-shaped and have a reddish-purple coloring. They’re sweet and have a firm texture and are good for canning, cooking, and freezing.
Apricots are another popular fruit to grow in your garden. They’re delicious and have a short growing season, making them perfect for first time or hobbyist gardeners. Like plums, they require similar care and conditions to grow successfully.
Where to Plant
When you plant your apricot trees, you’ll want to place them in an area that gets a lot of sun. They prefer sandy or loamy soil that isn’t too rich and doesn’t have a lot of bedrock close to the surface. You should wait to plant your trees until after the last frost in your area, as cold soil can damage the roots of your trees.
How to Plant
To plant your apricot trees, you should first find a hole twice as wide as the tree’s root ball and about 5 times as deep. You should also make the hole a little wider than the width of the container the tree is in. You can then remove all stones, roots, and debris from the bottom of the hole.
If you are planting more than one tree, space each one 6 feet away from the next tree, and the rows should be 8 to 10 feet apart. This will ensure that the trees have enough space to grow.
You should make sure that the bottom of the tree’s root ball is level with the rest of the hole before backfilling the hole with soil. You can then add a little more soil to the hole before firmly packing it around the root ball using your hands.
Once you’ve done this, you should add a couple more inches of soil before watering the tree well. You can then finish by adding soil, making sure that there are no air pockets in the soil.
Caring for your Apricot Trees
Apricot trees are fairly easy to care for and require little maintenance. You should water your trees regularly during hot periods and especially after heavy rains. It’s best to water slowly, giving the water time to soak into the ground and percolate down to the roots.
You should avoid letting the roots sit in water for too long, which can cause root rot. If you need to hold off on watering for a period of time, you should mulch around the base of the tree to hold in the moisture that’s already in the soil.
Pruning your trees can help you get the type of apricot tree that you want. You can prune them to have a single trunk or a multi-trunk tree, depending on your preferences. Just be sure to prune out any weak or cross branches that could take root and grow into their own trees.
Apricots like fertile soil so adding compost, ashes, or animal manure around the base of the tree helps keep it healthy. You should also rake soil up around the base of the tree to act as a protective barrier from the elements.
You should never harvest apricots until they’ve been adequately ripened on the tree, as harvesting them early can cause them to taste bitter. You should be able to easily pull the apricots off the tree when it’s time to gather them.
Harvesting your apricots involves plucking them off the tree individually and dropping them in a bucket. You should avoid bruising or damaging the fruit as this can cause it to taste bitter.
You’ll know that your apricots are ripe when they are soft to the touch and have a rich orange color all the way through. The skin should be loose enough that you can easily pull it away from the flesh. Once you harvest your apricots, you should eat them or store them properly so that they don’t go bad.
Apricots can be stored in a number of ways, such as drying, freezing, canning, or making jams and jellies. You should never preserve more than you can eat in a year as apricots tend to spoil quickly once preserved.
Apricots are at their best when eaten fresh off the tree, but they can be stored in the refrigerator for a few days to a week depending on if they’re ripe or unripe. You should never store apricots in the freezer as this causes them to become mealy.
Apricots can be dried by slicing them in half and removing the pit. Once they’re sliced, you can lay them out in the sun until they’re dry, or you can put them in your oven on it’s lowest setting. Drying them in the oven takes a few hours, but requires you keep an eye on them to avoid burning.
You can can apricots by first placing them in boiling water for a few minutes to ensure that they’re clean. You should then remove the skin and stones before putting them in jars with enough sugar to cover them. A syrup may also be used if you don’t have enough sugar on hand.
To make the jars of preserved apricots last even longer, you should process them in a waterbath for around 20 minutes to ensure that they’re safe to eat.
You can also make jams and jellies with apricots, which involves cooking them down with concentrated fruit juice or sugar syrup until they reach the desired consistency.
You can tell if your jam or jelly is ready by placing a plate in the freezer for a few minutes, then placing a small amount of the mixture on the plate after it’s cooled for a minute. If it’s thick enough to hold the shape once the plate is lifted then it’s ready.
Once your jam or jelly is ready, you should store it in the fridge and eat within a few days, or process it in a waterbath for around 10 minutes to ensure that it lasts longer.
Sources & references used in this article:
Investigations on Chlorosis of Fruit Trees.: III.—A Chlorosis of Plums Due to Potassium Deficiency. by T Wallace – Journal of Pomology and Horticultural Science, 1928 – Taylor & Francis
High density planting systems of European plums–the effect of growth and productivity of three cultivars after nine years by M Meland – Acta Agriculturae Scandinavica, Section B-Soil & Plant …, 2005 – Taylor & Francis
Fruit thinning plums and apricots by AD Webster, JE Spencer – Plant Growth Regulation, 2000 – Springer
Bacterial diseases of stone-fruit trees in Britain. II. Bacterial shoot wilt of Plum trees. by H Wormald – Annals of Applied Biology, 1930 – cabdirect.org
Growth and cropping of plum trees’ Felsina’,’Top’and Elena’. by Z Čmelik, J Družić, B Duralija, K Dugalić – Voćarstvo, 2007 – cabdirect.org
Performance of three rootstocks for plums in two different soils and climatic conditions by M Sitarek, ZS Grzyb, B Guzowska-Spaleniak… – … for Deciduous Fruit Tree …, 2002 – actahort.org