How to Care for a Dwarf Santa Rosa Plum Tree


Santa Rosa plum is a Japanese variety popular for its prolific, juicy fruit. Whether you choose a dwarf variety, which grows only 8 or 10 feet tall, or a full-size tree, expect a bountiful harvest of large, dark-colored plums in the summer. Like the other stone fruits, the Santa Rosa plum needs a certain amount of cold weather, making it perfect for gardens in USDA climate zones 5 through 9. This tree is self-fruitful, so get ready to make some jam in three years.

Step 1

Plant a dwarf Santa Rosa plum in fertile, well-drained soil. Add about 2 gallons of gypsum to the planting hole to help with drainage. Spread a ring of compost around the base of the tree to help conserve soil moisture, keep weeds away and nourish the tree.

Step 2

Train the tree to a central leader when it is small by pruning lower branches back to the main trunk without cutting into the trunk. If you prefer an open center, prune the top branches back to the trunk. Prune the tree in late summer after it has produced fruit.

Step 3

Fertilize the tree once each year in late spring with a balanced plant food, such as one having an N-P-K ratio of 10-10-10. An annual feeding of potash and lime also is helpful. Follow the instructions on the fertilizer package for best results.

Step 4

Spray the tree with insecticidal soap if ants are present. Ants don't harm the tree, but they bring insects such as aphids that cause damage. Smear a ½-inch-thick ring of Tanglefoot around the lower trunk of the tree to prevent ants from climbing into the branches.

Tips and Warnings

  • The University of Florida IFAS Extension does not recommend the Santa Rosa plum because it is more likely to suffer from plum leaf scald and some other bacterial diseases than newer plum cultivars.

Things You'll Need

  • Compost
  • Gypsum
  • Pruning shears
  • Balanced plant food
  • Potash
  • Horticultural lime
  • Insecticidal soap
  • Tanglefoot
  • Organic sulfur


  • Sunset Magazine
  • University of Florida
  • New Zealand Plant Portal
Keywords: plum tree, Santa Rosa, growing fruit

About this Author

Barbara Fahs lives on Hawaii island, where she has created Hiā€˜iaka's Healing Herb Garden. Barbara 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, and She earned her B.A. at UCSB and her M.A. from San Jose State University.