Plum blossoms are harbingers of spring in Edmonton, a sign that the long winter's over and the sun is warm enough to coax flowers out of hibernation. Getting them to flower as long and profusely as possible begins with the variety and the site where you plant your plum.
Plant several plum cultivars that thrive in Edmonton's Zone 2-3 climate for cross-pollination. Place them in a sheltered spot in full sun away from drying winds.
Place a double flowering plum where you can enjoy its fragrant flowers in the early spring. The 2 meters (6 foot) shrub is covered in pink-rose froth of double flowers 4 cm across. Hardy to Zone 3a, it bears no fruit.
Plant purple leaf plum as much for its profuse pink flower display as for the contrast of its brilliant foliage. It grows to 1.2 meters (4 feet by 4 feet) and is hardy in Zone 3b.
Put Pembina plums where they can spread to 5.5 meters (18 feet high and 16 feet wide). Their showy white flowers are fragrant and produce purple fruit good for eating in late summer.
Dig a hole as deep as the height of the root ball and three times as wide, advises Edmonton nursery owner and author Jim Hole.
Plant your plum in rich, good quality loam. Mix in Second Nature Horticultural Compost from Edmonton's Waste Management Centre at 13111 Meridian Street, made from yard waste from Edmonton homes.
Mix well rotted manure into the soil or sprinkle a cup of 10-10-10 chemical fertilizer around the base in April. Repeat with a half cup in early June, just as the flower show begins. Add another half cup in August. In April, feed mature trees 1 cup per year of age up to 10. Repeat in August to a maximum of 4 cups.
Water plums an inch a week before they bloom in June. Spring bloomers develop their flower buds in the summer, so water well through the summer to encourage healthy bud development.
Protect non-native plums from Edmonton's fierce winter first by pruning away all dead or diseased wood, then clearing out the interior of the plant to allow sunlight in and air to circulate.
Water plums well up to August. Then water every three weeks or so and give a thorough watering just before freeze up.
Make a newspaper collar around the base of the shrub up to 1/3 meter (12 inches). Fill it with straw, wood chips or branches. Cover with soil and keep the mound covered with snow through the winter.
Remove the winter cover in the spring when temperatures are warm enough for buds to appear and water thoroughly.
About this Author
TS Owen spent her career in journalism, winning the national Koop science writer award and penning articles in "Newsweek" and the "San Francisco Chronicle." She also served as an editor for a variety of publications in the San Francisco Bay Area and Banff, Alberta. Owen has a master's degree in English education.