There are many varieties of flowering plums (Prunus cerasifera). In late winter or early spring, abundant white or varying shades of pink flowers cover the tree, depending on the variety. Although the tree is called a “flowering” plum, many varieties also bear edible fruit, ranging from sour to bland in flavor. P.c. ‘Hollywood’ bears good quality plums, while P.c. ‘Allred’ is good for preserves or jelly. Most people choose flowering plums for spring flowering and fall color and are not interested in fruit.
Flowering plums make good lawn trees, and in this case you can plant any variety. Having fruit drop near sidewalk can be messy! Near cement, choose P.c. ‘Krauter Vesuvius’ which grows 18-’ tall by 12′ wide and has single light pink flowers and little to no fruit. Or try ‘Purple Pony’ which is usually not taller than 10-12′ with a width of about 12′ and has single pale pink flowers followed by no fruit (according to Sunset Western Garden Book). If you’ve had a different experience with these varieties or have one you would recommend, please respond to this post!
If you decide to plant a flowering plum in your landscape, be sure to purchase it from a local, reputable nursery. Local nurseries contract with tree growers who properly train and take care of the trees while they are young, ensuring they have excellent root systems. Trees grown elsewhere (such as at big box stores) may have multiple and competing major branches as well as poor root systems. The results of this combination are often seen in the landscape as a top-heavy, leaning tree. In many cases, a windstorm will easily knock them down.
It’s important to prune and train your tree, and to stake it correctly. Stakes only need to be used for about one year. Unfortunately, flowering plums do have a few problems, like shot hole disease in wet springs, and a high susceptibility to shot hole borers (an insect) when drought stressed. However, healthy trees are able to withstand these types of attacks. I will post a basic tree care blog soon for tips on keeping trees healthy.
| USDA Zones:5-10
Height: see above
Water Requirements: Moderate to regular water.
Pruning: Prune for shape after flowering, major pruning in dormant season.