How to Care for Dwarf Santa Rosa Plum Tree

Overview

The dwarf Santa Rosa plum is a very juicy, dark-skinned Japanese plum with amber-colored flesh that ripens early and needs no other tree for pollination, according to the University of California at Davis. The tree will grow to about 10 feet. UC Davis adds that plums are among the easiest and best-adapted fruit trees for most parts of California; dwarf Santa Rosa plums are appropriate for other states as well. Because the tree remains small, you can grow one in a container on your patio or deck.

Step 1

Enrich the soil in a sunny, well-drained area by digging 1 part organic compost into 4 parts of topsoil in a hole twice the size of your tree's root ball. Water the hole well by flooding it with water, wait for it to drain, and then set your young tree into the hole. Refill with the soil and compost mixture, patting it down around the trunk.

Step 2

Fertilize your tree with a balanced plant food about one month after you plant it and then once each year before flower buds open, according to Iowa State University. If you select a plant food with an N-P-K ratio of 10-10-10, it will nourish your tree adequately for the entire year. Use 1/10 lb. of actual nitrogen for each year of the tree's age.

Step 3

Prune your dwarf Santa Rosa plum in winter when it is dormant. You can train it into a shape and size that fits well with your landscaping, or to keep it small and manageable. Always cut dead and broken branches back to the main trunk, leaving the branch collar where the limb attaches to the trunk. When your tree is small, encourage several strong scaffold branches by pruning weaker branches and choosing those that grow horizontally.

Step 4

Watch for ants, which carry harmful insects such as aphids to your dwarf fruit tree. Knock ants off the tree by spraying it with a sharp stream of water from your hose. After the water dries, apply a layer of a barrier product such as Tree Tanglefoot around the lower part of the tree's trunk, following label instructions.

Step 5

Spray trees infested with aphids with a spray made from dish soap and water. This type of spray is available in a ready-to-use form at garden centers. It also kills other types of destructive insects that might attack your dwarf Santa Rosa plum.

Tips and Warnings

  • Do not over-fertilize the dwarf Santa Rosa plum tree because it can cause excessive leaf growth and a reduced amount of fruit.

Things You'll Need

  • Sunny area with well-drained soil Compost Fertilizer Pruning saw or loppers Barrier product (optional) Insecticidal soap (optional)

References

  • University of California, Davis: Agriculture and Natural Resources
  • University of California, Davis: Growing Temperate Tree Fruit
  • Iowa State University: Fertilizing Tree and Small Fruits
  • University of Georgia: Plums
Keywords: plum tree dwarf, gardening fruit, growing food

About this Author

Barbara Fahs lives on Hawaii island, where she has created Hi'iaka's Healing Herb Garden. Fahs wrote "Super Simple Guide to Creating Hawaiian Gardens," and has been a professional writer since 1984. She contributes to Big Island Weekly, Ke Ola magazine, GardenGuides and eHow. She earned her B.A. at UCSB and her M.A. from San Jose State University.