There are various fruit trees that thrive well in the Oregon climate. While apples, apricots, and pears are among the most popular, another favorite is the plum. A plum tree might just be the best addition to your new home orchard, but there are a few things to consider before you jump ahead to how to plant a plum tree.
First, decide which type of plum tree you want to plant.
There are three main categories: European, Japanese, and hybrid. Each of these can thrive in various parts of Oregon. For this reason, it’s important to identify which of the four climates you fit into. If you live in the Willamette Valley, for example, that is Area I and best suited for European varietals like Parsons, Italian, and Brooks, as well as the Japanese varietals, early golden, Shiro, and Burbank.
While the Japanese plums are most often eaten fresh, the European plums are good fresh, canned, or dried into prunes. Brooks and Italian varieties are also among the easiest to grow and are great options if you’re new to planting plums in your yard.
Also, consider when you want your plum tree to provide its harvest.
While the European ones often bear mature fruit in September, the Japanese plums will likely be ready for consumption in July or August. However, if fruit production is most important, keep in mind that the Japanese ones are more impacted by frost and cool, wet weather and may not produce fruit every year.
Next, keep in mind that, just as with all additions to your yard, plum trees also have their weaknesses.
So after planting, it’ll be important to try to prevent and stay vigilant against brown rot. This is a fungus that’s known to spread. You might first notice spring blooms turn to mush and later notice small brown spots on the fruit that rapidly consume the harvest. Then you know it’s time to act.
It’s treated with complete removal and fungicide, but prevention is always the best course of action. Proper pruning to provide just the right amount of air circulation and light is essential. Taking insect control measures also helps to prevent rot since any opening in the tree makes is susceptible to disease.
Now that you understand which type of plum tree might fit best in your yard and you know you’re willing to put in the effort to ensure it remains healthy each year, then it’s time to get planting. Here are our top tips on how to plant a plum tree.
1. Pick the Right Spot
Since brown rot is caused by consistently damp conditions, it should be no surprise that you’ll want to choose a spot in your yard that contains well-drained soil. Also, avoid any areas that might have more clay-based soil in favor of loamy soil.
Make sure your plum tree has enough room to grow. Larger trees need to be spaced about 20–25 feet apart, while dwarf trees can sit closer to 10–15 feet apart.
2. Untangle the Potted Plant’s Roots
It is most likely that you’ll purchase your plum trees from a nearby gardening center, and they’ll come in a pot. In this instance, you’ll want to remove the tree from the pot and lay it on its side. Then very slowly and gently loosen up and untangle the gnarled roots. This can be done by scraping up and down with a knife if the root ball is particularly tight.
3. Dig a Hole & Put it in
If you ask any expert how to plant a plum tree, they’ll tell you that the rule of thumb when digging the hole is it should be just wider and deeper than the roots. For previously potted plums, just place the root ball in the center and then start filling in the hole with soil. Make sure the roots are completely and thoroughly covered and that no air pockets exist.
4. Water Thoroughly
Once the tree is settled in its hole, water it thoroughly for the first few weeks. This helps the soil settle around the roots. Water deeply at the soil line and then water again before it dries out. And if your tree was not previously potted, it’s advised that you stake the tree for at least one year to provide added stability.
If this is the first fruit tree you plan to add to your yard, then it makes sense to ask how to plant a plum tree, but it’s even more imperative to know what to do once the tree is established in your yard.
Here Is an Important List of Do & Do-Nots:
- Do not fertilize your young plum tree until at least after its first fruit yield.
- Do not prune in fall or winter, to prevent injury and disease.
- Do add mulch in the spring to control weeds.
- Do not leave the mulch around the tree in winter.
- Do add a tree wrap or guard around the lower part of the trunk in winter to protect young trees.
- Do keep an eye on the lower trunk and branches for mouse and rabbit damage.
- Do water your trees well into mid-October to ensure plenty of moisture during winter.
Adding any fruit tree to your yard is a gift that keeps on giving. Not only will you enjoy it’s progression throughout the seasons as it comes back to life each spring and then beautifully settles in for winter in the fall, but the fruit will be a nice addition to your meals; a refreshing, healthy snack for your family; or even a jam or pie you whip up on the weekend.
If you’re still unsure about how to plant a plum tree or want to know if you have the right type of soil and space to ensure it can flourish, reach out to our team at Mr. Tree. Our arborists are here to provide you with the expert counsel you seek.