Plum tree seedling from our orchard- Zone 4
Characteristics of the tree
As these are seedlings, these are new surprise plums; we do not know what size, colour or taste they will have. They might be large or small, yellow, red, blue… the possibilities are endless! The fruit has a very good chance to be of excellent quality, as they are all the offspring of high-quality varieties. We would be interested to hear what sort of fruit you get from your plum tree in a few years’ time, particularly if it is really good-tasting!
These trees are seedlings of Japanese, American and Canada plums. They are vigorous, healthy and hardy to at least zone 4, and would very likely be worth a try in zone 3. Like most plum trees, they are self-sterile, and require a pure Canada Plum or American Plum nearby to pollinate them. They will generally produce fruit in 4-5 years.
These plum trees are seedlings that have been grown from the stones of the plums in our experimental orchard. They are therefore natural hybrids (made by the bees!) between all the cultivars that we have been planting at home for years, which include most of the varieties we propagate and sell, but also many more coming from all over the world.
Plums are fast-growing trees, but stay relatively small. A plum tree at maturity will not usually exceed 5 metres or 16 feet in height. Its life expectancy is also quite short: one can generally expect it to live between 30 and 50 years. This illustration shows a 20-year-old plum tree that has attained its maximum height.
You should note that this illustration is meant only to give a general indication of what you can expect, and the growth of your tree might look somewhat different. The development of a tree depends on the soil type, irrigation, fertilisation and climatic conditions. What we show here is based on our observation of the growth of plum trees in zone 4, in rather poor soil. In zone 2, growth will probably be slower, while in a rich soil it could be faster.
All our plum trees are sold bare-root, without pots. They have been cultivated directly in our soil. Bare-root trees must be taken out of the ground and shipped during their period of dormancy, which is why we only ship trees in the spring. A big advantage with these kinds of trees, is that they take up very little space, and can therefore be easily shipped by mail all over Canada!
This photograph shows a 2-3-foot plum tree, just like one that you might receive. Depending on the height you choose at the time of purchase, the tree might be a little smaller (1-2 feet) or somewhat taller (3-5 feet.)
Our plum varieties are hybrids of Canadian, American and Japanese plums. If you are thinking of planting a plum tree, it is important to understand how their pollination works. Hybrid plum trees are self-sterile, and cannot produce fruit alone. Moreover, they are not good pollinators for one another. Even if you plant two different varieties next to each other, you are unlikely to harvest any fruit.
Instead, hybrid plum trees need a wild plum tree to pollinate them: either the Canada plum (Prunus nigra) which is considered the best pollinator, or the American plum (Prunus americana) which also works well. So if you intend to plant plum trees, you must also plant at least one of these nearby, unless of course you already happen to have one. One wild plum tree is enough to pollinate up to around five grafted plum trees.
One drawback of plum trees is that they tend to flower early, making them sensitive to freezing in late frosts. Some microclimates help to mitigate this, such as the proximity of a lake or ocean. We also have a trick to help prevent them from flowering too early: applying a layer of mulch or compost underneath the base of the tree while there is still a good amount of snow on the ground. This insulates the snow underneath, so that it melts more slowly, and by maintaining a colder environment around the base of the tree, delays the start of its flowering period.