How to Grow Native Plum Trees

Overview

Native plum trees, also known as wild plums, hedge plums, or Prunus americana, can be a lovely addition to your landscaping. In the spring, they produce fragrant white (sometimes pink) flowers that are an excellent source of nectar for bees, butterflies and other pollinators, and then in the fall, they produce small, red-skinned fruit with yellow flesh. The fruit of the native plum is a little more tart or spicy than what you might be used to from the grocery store, but they can be made into flavorful jam or jelly. Birds and other wildlife will also eat the fruit, if you don't want it.

Step 1

Purchase your plum trees. Potted or balled and burlapped saplings should have plump buds or healthy looking leaves. Bare-root plums may look like little more than a stick, but they should be pliable and heavy for their size.

Step 2

Choose a good location for your native plum trees. Plum trees are adaptable to a variety of soil types and moisture levels, although in the wild they are often found growing along creeks and streams. Native plum tress like lots of sun.

Step 3

Plant your plum tree as soon as possible. If you cannot plant your potted or balled and burlapped plum tree right away, keep it in a location safe from drafts and bright sunlight. Bare-root plants should be refrigerated until you are ready to plant.

Step 4

Dig a hole that is as deep as the pot or root ball and at least twice as wide. For bare-root plants, try to locate a bump on the trunk that indicates its previous growing depth, or dig a hole that will place the upper-most roots just a few inches below the surface of the soil.

Step 5

Create a small mound inside the hole and spread the roots over it. Backfill the hole with soil (do not add fertilizer or compost) and cover with a layer of mulch. Water well.

Step 6

Space plum trees 12 to 20 feet apart to allow them room to grow and spread. If left to their own devices, plum trees can sucker and produce dense, shrubby thickets. To encourage taller trees with spreading crowns, remove suckers and trim the lower branches.

Step 7

Water plum trees deeply but infrequently to encourage strong root growth. Native plum trees rarely need fertilizer. Avoid using pesticides or other chemicals, especially if you plant to harvest the fruit.

Things You'll Need

  • Native plum trees
  • Shovel
  • Mulch
  • Pruning shears or saw

References

  • Nature Hills Nursery: Native American Plum
  • North Carolina Cooperative Extension: Planting Techniques for Trees and Shrubs
Keywords: native plum, wild plum, prunus americana, flowering trees, native fruit trees

About this Author

Sonya Welter graduated cum laude from Northland College in 2002, and has worked in the natural foods industry for nearly seven years. As a freelance writer, she specializes in food, health, nature, gardening and green living. She has been published on Ecovian.com, LIVESTRONG.com and several local print publications in Duluth, Minn.