Growing Plums: Tips and Tricks for a Bountiful Harvest


Choosing the right plum varieties is crucial for successful cultivation. Plum trees are available in a wide variety of sizes, colors, and flavors, so it is important to select the ones that are best suited for your climate and growing conditions.

Some plum tree varieties are better suited for cooler climates, while others are more heat-tolerant and thrive in warmer regions. For example, European plums are ideal for cool, humid climates, while Japanese plums are better suited for warm, dry climates.

It is also important to consider the time of flowering and ripening when selecting plum varieties. Early blooming varieties are more susceptible to frost damage, so they are not ideal for areas with late spring frosts. Late-ripening varieties may not mature before the onset of cold weather, which can affect fruit quality.

When selecting plum varieties, it is best to consult with a local horticulturist or extension agent to determine which types are best suited for your specific climate and growing conditions. They can provide valuable information on the best varieties for your region and offer tips on how to care for them.

Preparing the Soil for Plum Trees

Proper soil preparation is essential for healthy and vigorous plum tree growth. Here are some tips on how to prepare the soil for plum trees:

  1. Test the Soil: Before planting plum trees, it is important to test the soil pH and nutrient levels. Plum trees prefer slightly acidic soil with a pH range of 6.0 to 6.5. If the soil pH is too high or low, it can affect the tree’s growth and productivity.
  2. Amend the Soil: If the soil pH is outside the recommended range, amend the soil by adding lime to raise the pH or sulfur to lower it. Incorporate well-rotted organic matter like compost, aged manure, or leaf mold into the soil to improve its fertility and structure.
  3. Drainage: Plum trees require well-drained soil to prevent root rot and other diseases. If the soil is heavy clay or poorly drained, amend it by adding organic matter, sand, or perlite to improve drainage.
  4. Soil Depth: Plum trees have shallow roots and require at least 3 feet of well-drained soil for optimal growth. If the soil is shallow or rocky, consider planting plum trees in raised beds or containers.
  5. Site Selection: Choose a site that receives full sun and is protected from strong winds. Avoid planting plum trees in low-lying areas or sites prone to frost pockets.

By following these soil preparation tips, you can ensure that your plum trees will thrive and produce a bountiful harvest.

Planting and Pruning Plum Trees

Planting and pruning plum trees are essential for maintaining healthy and productive trees. Here are some tips on how to plant and prune plum trees:

Planting Plum Trees:

  1. Site Selection: Choose a site with well-drained soil, full sun, and protection from strong winds.
  2. Dig a Hole: Dig a hole twice as wide and just as deep as the tree’s root ball.
  3. Loosen Roots: Loosen the roots of the tree to promote healthy growth.
  4. Planting Depth: Plant the tree at the same depth as it was in the nursery.
  5. Fill Hole: Fill the hole with soil, and gently firm it around the tree.
  6. Watering: Water the tree deeply to settle the soil and promote root growth.

Pruning Plum Trees:

  1. Prune in Late Winter: Prune plum trees in late winter before the buds begin to swell.
  2. Remove Dead and Diseased Wood: Remove any dead or diseased wood with clean pruning shears.
  3. Shape the Tree: Prune to shape the tree, removing any branches that cross or rub against each other.
  4. Thin the Tree: Thin the tree to allow light and air to circulate freely throughout the canopy.
  5. Remove Suckers: Remove any suckers or water sprouts that emerge from the base of the tree or from the trunk.
  6. Monitor Growth: Monitor the tree’s growth and prune regularly to maintain its shape and productivity.

By following these planting and pruning tips, you can ensure that your plum trees will grow strong and produce a bountiful harvest.

Watering and Fertilizing Plum Trees

Proper watering and fertilization are essential for maintaining healthy and productive plum trees. Here are some tips on how to water and fertilize plum trees:

Watering Plum Trees:

  1. Deep Watering: Water deeply once or twice a week, depending on rainfall and soil moisture.
  2. Avoid Overwatering: Avoid overwatering, which can lead to root rot and other diseases.
  3. Mulching: Mulch around the base of the tree with organic matter like wood chips or straw to help retain moisture and suppress weeds.
  4. Irrigation System: Consider installing an irrigation system to provide consistent and efficient watering.

Fertilizing Plum Trees:

  1. Soil Test: Test the soil every 2-3 years to determine its nutrient needs.
  2. Balanced Fertilizer: Apply a balanced fertilizer in early spring, following the manufacturer’s instructions.
  3. Nitrogen: Avoid excessive nitrogen, which can lead to excessive vegetative growth at the expense of fruit production.
  4. Organic Fertilizer: Consider using organic fertilizers like compost or aged manure, which provide slow-release nutrients and improve soil health.
  5. Foliar Fertilizer: Apply foliar fertilizer during the growing season to provide micronutrients and improve fruit quality.

By following these watering and fertilizing tips, you can ensure that your plum trees will receive the nutrients and moisture they need to grow strong and produce a bountiful harvest.

Managing Common Plum Tree Pests and Diseases

Plum trees are susceptible to a variety of pests and diseases, which can affect their growth and productivity. Here are some tips on how to manage common plum tree pests and diseases:


  1. Aphids: Spray with insecticidal soap or neem oil to control aphids, which can cause stunted growth and distorted leaves.
  2. Plum Curculio: Apply a fruit tree spray containing carbaryl or spinosad to control plum curculio, which can cause fruit drop and damage to the fruit.
  3. Japanese Beetles: Handpick Japanese beetles or use a trap to control them, which can cause defoliation and damage to the fruit.


  1. Plum Pox: Remove and destroy infected trees to prevent the spread of plum pox, a viral disease that can cause fruit drop and stunted growth.
  2. Brown Rot: Apply a fungicide containing captan or myclobutanil to control brown rot, a fungal disease that can cause fruit rot and twig dieback.
  3. Bacterial Canker: Prune infected branches and apply a copper-based fungicide to control bacterial canker, which can cause branch dieback and cankers on the trunk.


  1. Clean Pruning Tools: Clean pruning tools with a 10% bleach solution between each cut to prevent the spread of diseases.
  2. Proper Watering and Fertilization: Proper watering and fertilization can help prevent stress and make trees more resistant to pests and diseases.
  3. Site Selection: Choose a site with good air circulation and sunlight to reduce the risk of fungal diseases.

By following these pest and disease management tips, you can help keep your plum trees healthy and productive. Regular monitoring and early intervention can prevent small problems from becoming big ones.

Harvesting and Storing Plums for Maximum Flavor and Freshness

Harvesting and storing plums properly is essential to maintain their maximum flavor and freshness. Here are some tips on how to harvest and store plums:

Harvesting Plums:

  1. Check for Ripeness: Plums are ready to harvest when they are fully colored, slightly soft to the touch, and pull easily from the tree.
  2. Harvest in the Morning: Harvest plums in the morning when they are cool and the sugar content is highest.
  3. Handle Carefully: Handle plums gently to avoid bruising, which can cause decay during storage.

Storing Plums:

  1. Store at Room Temperature: Store ripe plums at room temperature for 2-3 days, or until they are fully ripe.
  2. Refrigerate: Refrigerate ripe plums for up to 5 days to extend their freshness.
  3. Freeze: Freeze plums for long-term storage by cutting them in half, removing the pit, and placing them in airtight freezer bags.

Tips for Maximum Flavor:

  1. Leave the Skin On: The skin of plums contains antioxidants and adds texture and flavor to recipes.
  2. Serve at Room Temperature: Serve plums at room temperature for maximum flavor and aroma.
  3. Use Them Fresh: Use fresh plums in recipes as soon as possible for the best flavor and texture.

By following these tips, you can ensure that your plums are harvested and stored properly to maintain their maximum flavor and freshness. Enjoy them fresh, cooked, or frozen in your favorite recipes.

Alyssa Popovich

Never let the fear of striking out keep you from playing the game. – Babe Ruth

You may also like...