Numerous species and cultivars of plum trees are available. Most fall into either the category of being old world plums or new world plums, depending upon their native habitat location in the world. Plum trees can attain a height of 25 feet. Widely grown for both its fruit production and showy spring flowers, the plum tree is often planted as an ornamental yard specimen. Two varieties are required to ensure pollination and fruit production.
Choose a planting location that offers full sunlight. Partial shade in the afternoon is acceptable but not ideal. Plum trees flourish in an area with ample morning sunlight so the dew dries quickly from the trees' foliage, which helps prevent fungal infections. Well-draining soil is required. Plum trees will not tolerate wet roots for an extended time or standing water.
Plant plum trees in the late fall or early spring. Prepare the soil for planting a month prior. Mix ample organic matter into the soil such as peat moss, leaf debris or bark chips. Soil should have the appearance of being crumbling and rich. Allow the soil to sit for a month to settle before planting the plum tree.
Never plant the plum tree's bulb union below the soil surface. The tree's bulb union needs to be planted at least 2 inches above the soil line. A bulb union planted below the soil is susceptible to fungal infections and rot. Place the plum tree into the planting hole at the same depth that it was planted in its nursery container.
Stake the plum tree for the first few years until the tree is firmly established with a good root system. A stake will offer the tree protection during windy days or in heavy snow loads. Tie the tree to the stake using cotton rope or twine. Make sure the ties are loose so they do not cut into the tree's delicate bark. Check the ties often as the tree grows to make sure they remain loose.
Supply ample water to the plum tree until firmly established. The plum tree enjoys moist soil but it must be well-draining. Applying 2 to 3 inches of mulch such as peat moss or bark chips will help keep weed growth at bay and will also help the soil retain moisture.
Plum trees are notorious for producing ample sucker growth from their root system as it spreads. Suckers often appear as much as 9 feet away from the parent tree's trunk. Remove suckers as they appear to help the tree maintain its appearance and health. Hand pulling the suckers works well for control.
Fertilize the newly planted plum tree using one cup of well-balanced fertilizer such as 10-10-10. Sprinkle the fertilizer at least 6 inches away from the tree's trunk. Water the fertilizer into the soil.