Canada Plum Tree- Zone 2
Characteristics of the tree
The Canada Plum (Prunus nigra) is a wild-growing native tree that is the best pollinator for hybrid plum trees. It also produces sweet-tasting fruit.
Although it is mainly used as a pollinator, the Canada Plum also produces good fruit. The plum is small and round, on average 2.8 centimetres in diameter and weighing on average 14g. It is ruby red in colour, with orange flesh and an adherent stone. The skin is smooth, and tastes astringent and somewhat bitter. The flesh is sweet and just slightly acidic. It is best used for cooking in compotes and jellies, but is also agreeable to eat fresh. Since these trees are seedlings, the fruit may vary slightly from tree to tree.
The Canada Plum tree grows as a small tree or shrub, reaching up to about 15 feet in height. It is self-fertile and productive. The Canada Plum is also extremely hardy, growing well without frost damage up to zone 2. Due to its hardiness, it has been frequently used in breeding programs to create new hybrid cultivated varieties of plum tree for the north. It thrives best in well-drained soil (particularly in alluvial soils along riverbanks, for example) but can also tolerate somewhat wet soils.
Canada plum is the best pollinator for American and Asian plum trees and their hybrids. Plum tree pollination is somewhat complex and most hybrid plum trees are not effective pollinators for one another. Without a wild plum tree planted nearby, production is not likely to be good even if you have several varieties close to one another. Although the American Plum tree (Prunus Americana) can also work as a pollinator, the Canada Plum tree is the best to plant for this purpose. It offers the longest pollination period, beginning to flower along with the very earliest flowering plum tree varieties, and lasting as long as the last days of the latest flowering plum tree varieties. It can also pollinate Cherry-plum or ‘Chum’ varieties.
Our Canada Plum trees are produced from seeds collected from isolated trees without other plum trees nearby to cross-pollinate them. They are therefore guaranteed to be ‘pure Canada Plum.’
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.