Plum Trees

The plum trees are the first of our fruit trees to bloom in spring. Each year I've made a note of the date that the plums have begun to bloom:

3/9/13 - we lost the entire crop to a late frost this year

My husband loves plums. I wasn't terribly impressed with them before we planted our own. Growing them was eye-opening to me. We have three varieties, although I can't recall the names of them right now. One is red-fleshed, another is my husband's favorite blue-fleshed, and the third is a yellow plum with yellow flesh. They are all so much better-tasting than plums from a store. I love them all, but that yellow plum is indescribably delicious and is now my favorite.

Only half of the largest plum tree bloomed last year, and it looks as though it will do the same thing this year. I plan to prune it hard this fall and see if it will help. I let this tree get far too big and out of control anyway.

Fruit trees are available in dwarf, semi-dwarf and standard sizes. This article from Bayer Advanced describes the differences as follows:
"Dwarf: Small trees (7 to 10 feet tall) suited to an 8-foot-diameter space. Shorter trees are easy to prune, spray, thin and harvest. Fruit is normal size; trees start bearing in 3 to 5 years. Dwarf trees have the shortest life spans.
Semi-dwarf: Medium-size trees (10 to 16 feet tall) need a 15-foot-diameter space. Annual pruning is vital to maintain height and shape. This tree size yields hundreds of fruits per season. Trees start bearing in 3 to 5 years.
Standard: Large fruit trees grow 25 to 30 feet tall and require a 15- to 30-foot-diameter space, depending on fruit type. Large size makes pruning, spraying and harvesting trickier. Trees begin bearing after 3 to 5 years and live long enough that your great-grandchildren can harvest fruit."

We planted dwarf and semi-dwarf trees in our orchard. We wanted the maximum number of trees in the space we had available. We chose our location with several things in mind: it had to be outside of the horses' pasture, of course, and far from the goats' pen, yet close to a water source. Because frost falls downhill, we planted on the top of the hill in a sunny location. The only drawback to the location we chose is its size; I wish we had room for more trees.

Do you have fruit trees? Are they dwarfs, semi-dwarfs, or standard size trees?

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  1. Hi Kathi,

    We have dwarf and standard cherries, semi-dwarf pears, apples and apricots. But nothing has begun to bear fruit yet. I am terrible at pruning correctly and I usually plant them too deep so we have to fight sprouts coming up from the root stock. Not a good management technique. Maybe some day we will have fruit. Thanks for showing us your progress.


  2. Fern, I have one plum tree that is 9 years old and has never borne fruit. I have to say that fruit trees in Oklahoma are a challenge. Late frosts and drought are hard on fruit. I've lost trees to borers and to grasshoppers. I hope you have fruit soon - maybe this year?

  3. Love my prune plums - we dry them every year. I can take or leave the other kinds. Good luck with this year's harvest - its so hit or miss in the orchard, isn't it?!

  4. It is, Tessa - and you just can't control frost and drought. Enjoy your prune plums.

  5. Mmmmmmm, don't those look delicious! ;0)

  6. Believe me, they are! :-) Thank you for stopping by, Daisy.

  7. Your trees look awesome, Kathi! I planted cherry, plum, pear, peach, and apple trees when we moved here 3+ years ago. I had a couple of peaches last year and the cherries have started to produce a few fruits. I'm hoping that this year we start getting more fruit!

    Those plums look delicious!

  8. Thank you, Lisa! We had peach, nectarine, cherry, plum and apple trees. The cherries died the first year; it's my favorite fruit but since the wilted leaves are toxic to goats we opted not to replant them.

  9. We planted a few plum trees a few years ago and last year we got 3 plums off of them. We are hoping this year they will produce a few more. I can not wait until they are bigger and produce more. Yours look so good I can hardley wait!

  10. We have 2 apple, 2 cherry, 2 apricot, 2 peach, 1 prune plum, 1 almond (planted in the ground) and 2 walnuts! I love that you keep tract of when your tree blooms - good idea! I think I will do the same! My favorite is the satsuma. I think the skin of the Santa Rosa is too bitter. I don't think I have ever had a yellow plum, but it looks and sounds delicious! I think our peaches bloomed too early because we had a frost soon after. Ah well - mother nature likes to play tricks on us!

  11. Vickie, I know we have a Santa Rosa. I don't remember the name of the yellow one. We are expecting frost Monday and Tuesday next week - not good timing.

    I love apricots but I've read they are hard to grow here because they bloom so early, so I haven't bought any trees.

  12. We inherited a few trees on our place and have been planting others. Most are on dwarf of semi-dwarf rootstock. We have 2-3 cherries, 5-6 apples, pears, pluots, and several types of plums.

    Pluots are a mix of plums and apricots and are a good compromise where you can't grow apricots easily. "Dandy Dapple" is a mouth-watering type of pluot.

    I'm not a huge fan of plums off the tree but I like them for cooking. Plum Chutney is our favorite; goes well with pork or other meats. I have a recipe here:

    I am still learning about pruning fruit trees properly, but have really enjoyed what we've grown so far.

  13. Thank you, I'll look into the pluots, and will go read your recipe. :-) There are videos online on pruning, I found them very helpful.

  14. Hi Kathi, do plum trees need pesticides to thrive? I have thought of planting them here, but we actually dug up and disposed of 2 nectarine trees because they were hit by some fungal disease (black or brown rot, I think) that made all the twigs turn black and fruit rot. I want something easy to care for that doesn't need any pesticide application, even organically approved pesticides. Do plum trees fit that?

  15. Hi Janet. I've never used pesticide on my plum trees in nine years. I do have to treat my other trees if I don't want damaged fruit, but the plums have always been beautiful with no insect damage.

    I did have to spot treat one of the plum trees one year for tent caterpillars. Last year I did spot spray as a last resort to fight the grasshopper infestation; I lost a peach and a nectarine tree and was about to lose an apple tree.

    I hope that answers your question.


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