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How to Care for the Purple Plum Tree

By Jennifer Loucks ; Updated September 21, 2017

The purple leaf plum tree is also known as the cherry plum tree. This ornamental flowering plum tree is compact in size, with a maximum height of 20 feet and width of 15 feet. The tree has dark purple foliage with light pink, fragrant flowers that bloom in the early spring and attract bees. The tree is susceptible to diseases and pests and has a short life span of 10 to 15 years.

Plant the purple leaf plum tree in a full sun location as this will stimulate the purple leaf color. The tree prefers a well-drained that is slightly acidic. Provide wind protection to prevent defoliation on the upper branches.

Provide air circulation to prevent the tree being diseased by canker or leaf spot. Remove and destroy infected branches and leaves and apply fungicide, as needed, to stop the spread of the disease.

Prune the tree every year in early spring after flowering is finished. Prune to train and shape the branches. Remove suckers and thin any branches that are crossed or crowded.

Water the tree regularly the first two years after planting. The purple leaf plum tree requires 15 to 20 gallons of water each week for the first two years to establish the tree. Water 15 to 20 gallons twice a month during the third year of growth. Continue to water the as needed to keep the soil moist for the remaining life of the tree.

Fertilize the purple leaf plum every spring before new growth appears with a general-purpose fertilizer.

Check the tree regularly for pests, such as aphids, scales, borers, mealy bugs and tent caterpillars.


Things You Will Need

  • Pruner
  • General purpose fertilizer


  • Purple leaf plums trees in a shaded location will have a green leaf color instead of the vibrant purple.
  • Some varieties of the purple leaf plum rarely produce fruit or the fruit is not of significant size.
  • The tree is hardy in USDA hardiness zones 4 through 9.

About the Author


Jennifer Loucks has been writing since 1998. She previously worked as a technical writer for a software development company, creating software documentation, help documents and training curriculum. She now writes hobby-based articles on cooking, gardening, sewing and running. Loucks also trains for full marathons, half-marathons and shorter distance running. She holds a Bachelor of Science in animal science and business from University of Wisconsin-River Falls.