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Plum Trees

By: Kate Bradbury - Updated: 12 May 2017 | comments*Discuss
 
Plum Trees Plums Gaes Greengage Gage

Plum trees are regularly grown in gardens in the UK and their fruit is traditionally made into jam and eaten on its own. They can also be made into a fruity wine or dried and eaten as prunes.

The trees flower in early spring and cover the tree in blossom. Normally around half of the flowers will turn into fruit but this can depend on the weather. If there is a late frost, the tree could lose all of its flowers, and the fruit set will be lower than normal – you may even not get any fruit at all if the frost is severe enough. If there has been very little rain, the fruit crop will suffer, and you will also get less fruit if it has been too wet.

Greengage
The Greengage is a close relative of the plum. It was developed in France and is small and oval-shaped. Unlike plums, they are green or yellow, and are the tastiest of eating plums.

Varieties of greengage include:

  • Bryanston
  • Cambridge Gage
  • Golden Transparent
  • Laxton's Gage
  • Laxton's Supreme
Growing Plum Trees
Plum and gage trees are easily grown in the UK and need very little maintenance.

Choosing Your Plum Tree
If you want to grow your own plums, you will need to consider a few factors before buying your tree. How big do you want it to grow? Do you want cooking plums or eating plums? How many plum trees will you need in order to produce fruit?

How Big Will it Grow?
You can buy plum trees to suit nearly every type of garden. Fan trained trees only grow to a height of around 2m, and a width of 3m. They are ideally grown against a south or west-facing wall. You can also buy free-standing fruit trees, which grow to an eventual height of around 2.5m, and are ideal for smaller gardens, where a fan-trained tree wouldn’t be suitable.

Bush-trained plum trees are also an option. They are also freestanding, and grow to up to 4m in height. They are ideal for larger gardens. Growers looking for a really large tree might want to consider growing either a half standard tree (they grow to 6m), or standard plum trees (8m). You will need to use a ladder to reach the fruits from these trees, however.

Cooking or Eating?
The following guide will help you learn more about varieties of plum tree and the best one for your needs.
  • Blue Tit – produces a large crop of delicious blue plums
  • Czar - eating plum with yellow-green flesh
  • Old English Greengage – best tasting of all gages, this tree produces a small crop of very juicy fruit
Pollination
Some plum tress are self-fertile, which means you will only need to buy one, but many require another tree growing nearby for pollination to occur. If you do choose a tree that requires another variety to cross-fertilise with, choose one that flowers at the same time.

Plum trees are varied and they are a fantastic choice of tree to grow in the garden. With the right conditions, they will produce masses of fruit every year that can be used for a variety of culinary treats.

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[Add a Comment]
I have a black amber pum in a pot fruit last year but this year NO flowers Lots of leaf growth looks healthy. What could be cause ?D
AL - 12-May-17 @ 8:50 AM
Matt - Your Question:
Hi, I moved into a property 3 years ago with an overgrown garden. There were two plum trees, both fruiting, however, needed pruning. One of the trees is fine, however, last year only half of the other shooted leaves and this year so far nothing. How do I know it is dead before I remove it? And what could of caused this to happen? Thanks

Our Response:
You can do the scratch test which is to take a branch or twig and scratch beneath the surface of the the bark. You only need make a small scrape and a few mm deep and a cm or so long. If the wood beneath the bark is not green then your tree is probably dying or dead. There can be many reasons why a tree may die, if the garden was overgrown it may have had to fight for nutrients. A shallow root system, exposure to extreme elements and/or poor soil condition can affect a tree’s roots. Environmental stressors can also kill such as harsh frosts, lack or water or too much water and bad drainage. Disease can also affect a tree. So, the list is pretty endless. If by chance it is still alive and just struggling, you may want to talk to your local garden centre to see what the problem might be and how you can rectify it.
FruitExpert - 10-Apr-17 @ 11:18 AM
Hi, I moved into a property 3 years ago with an overgrown garden. There were two plum trees, both fruiting, however, needed pruning. One of the trees is fine, however, last year only half of the other shooted leaves and this year so far nothing. How do I know it is dead before I remove it? And what could of caused this to happen? Thanks
Matt - 9-Apr-17 @ 12:25 PM
Hello A plum tree enquiry. I live in a sunny, almost microclimate known for 'good fruit growth' location in West Wales. My plot is 27 feet long and I have this year planted two russet apples on mm106 rootstock. I also have a mature Old English Gage. So able to cross-pollinate would be good for what I want. Please could you recommend a good cropping, disease resistant desert plum to plant alongside the apples? Height at maturity no more than approx. 10 feet to 12 feet. The apples are bare root bush trained. As well as Victoria and Opal, I am open to old heritage varieties, commonly grown and lesser known varieties, provided good reliable croppers, tasty and disease resistant. Thankyou.
Mr J - 14-Nov-16 @ 11:25 AM
gary - Your Question:
My plum tree had loads of young green fruit in late summer then within a couple of days were all gone.No fruit was found on the ground.Does anyone know what could be eating the unripe fruits?

Our Response:
Whatever, animal or insect competitors are gunning for your fruit, they don’t really care whether the fruit is actually ripe when they start eating it. Squirrels may be the main culprits here, especially if the plums disappeared quickly while still on the tree.
FruitExpert - 7-Nov-16 @ 12:57 PM
my plum tree had loads of young green fruit in late summer then within a couple of days were all gone. No fruit was found on the ground. Does anyone know what could be eating the unripe fruits?
gary - 6-Nov-16 @ 9:18 PM
I have just moved house and inherited a plum tree, that has outgrown the wire training strings holding its lower branches.It is now well over 6ft and interfering with the upstairs neighbour's window.Should I prune it back now (23rd Sept) or tie the branches down and wait until next summer to prune? Thanks for your help
Hazle Weatherfield-C - 23-Sep-16 @ 1:53 PM
Hopeless Gardener - Your Question:
My Victoria plum tree is laden with small red fruit but all the plums are shrivelling. What is the cause and what should I do? We have already halved the number of plums but it is still laden. Only a few at the very top seem unaffected. In the past it has born lovely fruit. It is about 20 years old.

Our Response:
It's always difficult to make a diagnosis, but it could be brown rot fungus which is becoming increasingly more widespread. While it affects many fruit varieties, it particularly likes Victoria plums, please see more via the RHS site to see whether it looks familiar, please see link here.
FruitExpert - 20-Sep-16 @ 10:20 AM
My Victoria plum tree is laden with small red fruit but all the plums are shrivelling. What is the cause and what should I do? We have already halved the number of plums but it is still laden. Only a few at the very top seem unaffected. In the past it has born lovely fruit. It is about 20 years old.
Hopeless Gardener - 19-Sep-16 @ 12:57 AM
@eileen - quite often blossom can occur after a freak cold spell. Jack.
JCH67 - 31-Aug-16 @ 11:37 AM
Hi I have a Victoria plum tree but notice I am getting new blossoms in August?
Eileen - 30-Aug-16 @ 2:59 PM
My plum tree has not produced any fruit this year and yeaterday I noticed a thick amber coloured fluid is seeping from its lower trunk. I've seen advice on this page about what this might be and how to treat it but is it harmful to humans as my toddler was playing with it.
Anz - 22-Aug-16 @ 6:59 AM
We have recently moved and have loads of trees in the garden. I have found lots of small oval yellow fruits on the ground. What could these be?Bigger than cherries but much smaller than plums.
Blonde - 11-Aug-16 @ 12:35 PM
LANE - Your Question:
I have a new prunus czar which has just started producing a jelly like substance on the stem and branches.can you tell me what it is and what to do please

Our Response:
I would advise you speak with your local garden centre, as it is very difficult to diagnose with such little information. It could be a bacterial canker. If so, you will find dead areas of bark with a sticky sap oozing from the affected areas. You'd have to cut out all cankered areas and prune back to healthy wood and then paint with a tree wound paint or spray to protect from further re-infection. Also, check the leaves for small brown 'shotholes'. Pruned branches, leaves and wood would have to be burned to stop spread, as the disease is airborne. Unfortunately, there are no particular chemical treatments for this - but your garden centre will advise further on a diagnosis and the best treatment for your tree.
FruitExpert - 11-Aug-16 @ 10:46 AM
i have a new prunus czar which has just started producing a jelly like substance on the stem and branches.can you tell me what it is and what to do please
LANE - 10-Aug-16 @ 10:40 AM
Help I have an opal plum tree that has gold lumps of hard like plastic stuck to the plums, what is it ??
silver - 24-Jul-16 @ 5:34 PM
We moved out of our house that had a Victoria plum tree it's got lots of fruit when can I dig it up to take to our new house will it die if we take it now
Sarah - 23-Jul-16 @ 9:52 PM
I planted a plum tree this year and yesterday managed to damage the bark with the strimmer. I have taken off a piece about 2 inches wide by 3 inches high. What should I do to limit the damage to tree? Many thanks.
Stuart R - 13-Jul-16 @ 10:36 PM
Jock - Your Question:
Four years ago we planted a Blue Tit Plum Tree. First and Second year if Flowered really well and, as we'd been advised, we plucked off the Blossoms to let the bush matue. Third year it flowered beautifuly but never bore fruit. This year, 4th, it has had only a few flowers and no fruit - HELP!

Our Response:
There could be a variety of reasons which include lack of pollination, under-nourishment and over-pruning, please see RHS link here which will give additional information on the steps you can take to get the best from your tree.
FruitExpert - 30-Jun-16 @ 12:04 PM
Four years ago we planted a Blue Tit Plum Tree.First and Second year if Flowered really well and, as we'd been advised, we plucked off the Blossoms to let the bush matue.Third year it flowered beautifuly but never bore fruit.This year, 4th, it has had only a few flowers and no fruit - HELP!
Jock - 29-Jun-16 @ 5:17 PM
In reply to your response to the question about plums dropping off our plum tree. I appreciate your answer to this. The problem is that there is no fruit left on the tree. It fell off within 2 to 3 days
Joey - 24-Jun-16 @ 8:27 PM
Joey - Your Question:
Can you please tell me why the plums falling off our plum tree this year. Last year we had a lot of plums which ripened and tasted very nice. I would be grateful if you could help me out with this query.

Our Response:
This is called 'June drop', and happens especially after a good show of spring blossom and good pollination. The excess fruit this produces has to drop as it it too large to be supported by the tree. It means the crop that remains will be properly nourished and allow the tree to continue its fruiting.
FruitExpert - 23-Jun-16 @ 12:31 PM
Can you please tell me why the plums falling off our plum tree this year. Last year we had a lot of plums which ripened and tasted very nice. I would be grateful if you could help me out with this query.
Joey - 22-Jun-16 @ 8:20 PM
Hijust after some advise. I bought a Victoria plum tree last year, it seems very healthy now touching 7 foot. My query is, it flowered early spring this year and soon after was a hard frost and all the blossom died and fell off, but this week (mid june) it is now flowering again a second time. Is it normal for plums to try and flower again or have I just got one determined little tree? Thanks in advance
elyk - 14-Jun-16 @ 3:31 PM
Silverman - Your Question:
My plum tree produced great crops of fruit until this yearThe fruit is misshapen and yellow long fruit shaped like a pepper I pruned it after fruiting last year It has very healthy new shoots And bags of fruit but as above so damaged Any help out there

Our Response:
It is always difficult to try to assess what may be wrong with a tree without seeing the fruit. From your description regarding the length and shape of the fruit, it may be a disease called Plum Pocket which although relatively rare, is increasing. This is an airborne fungal disease caused by the fungus Taphrina Pruni. The fruit will appear longer and larger than normal and the flesh will be dotted with white marks and if you open the fruit you will notice there is no stone but an empty white pocket. If this is the case, I suggest doing some research into how to treat your tree. You will have to write off the fruit this year, but with the right treatment you should be able to rectify the problem.
FruitExpert - 31-May-16 @ 2:23 PM
My plum tree produced great crops of fruit until this year The fruit is misshapen and yellow long fruit shaped like a pepper I pruned it after fruiting last year It has very healthy new shoots And bags of fruit but as above so damaged Any help out there
Silverman - 31-May-16 @ 9:33 AM
I have a 5 year old 'Blue Tit' Plum Tree. It has never flowered - not one blossom. Other plum trees in the area bloom, so I don't think it is a frost issue. I have fed the tree with potash to encourage flowering. Does anyone know what is wrong with it?
Frustrated - 20-May-16 @ 7:21 PM
my son sent me a new victoria plum tree, i have never grown a plum tree before. It looked like a 5 foot large twig with bare roots, planted it in sunny position in late March. it is now 7 feet tall with buds on the trunk all the way down looks very healthe but do i trim the buds from the bottom or just leave it?
jules - 20-May-16 @ 3:38 PM
I planted a greengage plum tree (maiden) 4 years ago . The tree is now very healthy and about 10 feet higj but shows no signs of blossoming. Any suggestions or answers?
Eck - 5-May-16 @ 7:40 PM
@Peter K - Definitely. The purpose of pruning is to encourage the health of your tree and to increase fruit yield. You probably know that plum trees, unlike many others should only be pruned when they are in full growth and never in winter when they are dormant because it risks contracting diseases. Good luck with your future yields.
HattyR - 23-Sep-15 @ 10:18 AM
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