Ornamental Flowering Plum Trees
Though several varieties of the ornamental plum are sold throughout the United States, most are grown for similar characteristics. Hardy to sunny areas in zones 5 to 8, Prunus cerasifera is a relatively short-lived, small tree, generally not reaching 25 feet high and wide. Flowers and leaf color provide year-round interest and contrast to other garden trees and shrubs. Ornamental plums are somewhat susceptible to wilt and leaf -spot diseases, aphids, caterpillars and other insects that typically attack fruit and nut trees.
The original Purple-leaf plum, 'Atropurpurea' displays ruby-colored new leaves that change to purple, and finally bronze-green by late summer. White to light-pink flowers blossom in late winter to early spring before the leaves emerge. One to 3 inch fruits that attract birds, but drop in summer, follow the flowers.
- Though several varieties of the ornamental plum are sold throughout the United States, most are grown for similar characteristics.
- One to 3 inch fruits that attract birds, but drop in summer, follow the flowers.
The leaves of the Black Myrobalan Plum also emerge red, but hold a deep purple color throughout the summer. Spring blooms are pink. Hardy to zone 9 and able to reach heights of 30 feet, 'Nigra' is a larger tree more suited for deeper areas of the south.
The 'Newport' Purple-leaf plum is more widely adapted than other varieties. Hardy to zones 4 to 9, it flourishes in parts of the Northeast and Midwest, as well as the Lower South. White to pale-pink springtime flowers give way to purple-bronze new leaves. Summer foliage color is dark purple. A somewhat shorter tree, it rarely grows taller than 20 feet.
- The leaves of the Black Myrobalan Plum also emerge red, but hold a deep purple color throughout the summer.
Also hardy to zones 4 to 9, 'Krauter Vesuvius' is similar in growth and habit to 'Newport' but differs in summer leaf color, which is a dark purple to black. Spring flowers are light pink. 'Krauter Vesuvius' is also less likely to produce messy fruit in summer.
Diseases Of The Ornamental Flowering Plum Tree?
Purple-leaf ornamental plum trees (Prunus cerasifera) offer beautiful foliage in addition to their colorful flowers. Thundercloud” and “Mt. St. Helens” are other ornamental plum trees cultivars that maintain purple leaves throughout the growing season. Cankers injure woody plant parts, prompting trees to ooze amber-colored gum. Black knot galls, which grow in response to the Apiosporina morbosa fungal pathogen, are disfiguring growths on trees. This disease can progress to kill the tree. Powdery mildew affects plum foliage by leaving residue resembling baby powder on leaf surfaces. Many viruses may infect ornamental plum trees. Advanced disease stages may stunt tree growth, although viruses rarely cause tree death. As with viruses in other plants, there is no cure for these diseases.
- Also hardy to zones 4 to 9, 'Krauter Vesuvius' is similar in growth and habit to 'Newport' but differs in summer leaf color, which is a dark purple to black.
- Purple-leaf ornamental plum trees (Prunus cerasifera) offer beautiful foliage in addition to their colorful flowers.
- "The American Horticultural Society Encyclopedia of Garden Plants"; Christopher Brickell, ed.; 1989
- NC State University: Trees: Prunus cerasifera
- University of Florida: Prunus cerasifera "Atropupurea'
- Monrovia: Krauter Vesuvius Purple Leaf Plum
- Monrovia: Newport Purple Leaf Plum
- Friends of the Urban Forest: Prunus Cerasifera “Krauter Vesuvius”
- University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension: Yard and Garden April 16, 2011
- Kansas State University Agricultural Experiment Station and Cooperative Extension Service: Canker Diseases of Trees
- North Dakota State University: Disease Control in Cherries, Plums, and Other Stone Fruits
Aaron Painter began as a garden writer in 1999, and has more than 12 years of professional experience in landscaping and horticulture and six years in broadcast journalism. Painter holds a BA in mass communication and horticulture from LSU, and now lives in Nashville, Tenn.