Gardening Articles: Edibles :: Fruit & Nut Trees

Plum Varieties (page 2 of 2)

by National Gardening Association Editors

Which Plum to Grow?

American hybrid trees are a good choice for regional extremes. Combining the virtues of both breeds, the fruits are as tasty as the Japanese plums and as hardy as our native plum species. Climate plays a large role in determining which plum variety to plant. European plum trees are adapted to conditions throughout most of the United States. They are generally more tolerant of the cold than Japanese varieties. On the other hand, Japanese plums are better able to tolerate summer heat. They bloom earlier than European plums, so they are more vulnerable to late frost damage. Generally, Japanese plums don't set fruit well in regions with cold, damp springs. American hybrids look very promising in the Southeast where there are many disease problems. Also, some native hybrids do well in the northern Midwest, where you can't grow any other plums because of freeze damage. These hybrids are often able to survive on the northern plains because of the unbroken, persistent cold, although they may not fare as well in other northern regions where warm spells frequently interrupt winter conditions. The European plum is generally easier to grow than the Japanese because Japanese plum trees need more pruning and more fruit thinning. They generally spoil faster than European plums after harvest. Europeans tend to stay on the tree longer, and they last longer after they are picked. European plums also offer more leeway in cross -pollination planning. They are more often self-fertile; one variety, or even one tree, can be planted alone and still bear fruit. Some varieties such as 'President' require cross-pollination. (European plums classified as self-fertile may produce better crops when cross-pollination is provided.) Japanese plums almost always require the presence of another Japanese, Japanese/ American hybrid, or American plum variety nearby in order to set fruit. European and Japanese will not cross-pollinate, as their pollen is incompatible.

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