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Tips on Planting, Pruning, and Taking Care of Japanese Plum Trees

How to Prune a Japanese Plum Tree
If you love to have a full pink bloom that looks beautiful and ornamental in your backyard with lush, juicy, and delicious fruits, then the Japanese plum tree is a definite must-have. Gardenerdy provides information on how to plant, take care, prune, and grow a Japanese plum tree.
Mary Anthony
Last Updated: Sep 25, 2017
Some Yumm Plum Facts!
● February is the month of Plums in Japan.
● The Samurai's thought that Umeboshi (pickled plum) is good for fatigue.
● Plums are grown on every continent except Antarctica.
Contrary to its name, the Japanese plum tree originated in China but was bought to the U.S. in the 1870s by Berkeley horticulturist John Kelsey. He introduced an ideal fruit tree for dry, mild climates. By the continued efforts of Luther Burbank at hybridizing the tree, fruit lovers can now enjoy Japanese plums from spring to fall.

Japanese plum trees require pollination, they are ideal as fresh fruits. Most varieties have juicy yellow or reddish flesh with skin colors ranging from black to crimson red. Their flesh clings to the pit, hence, they are classified as clingstone fruits.
Pruning the Japanese Plum Tree
Japanese plum tree
Japanese plum trees grow vigorously and require high pruning and fruit thinning. A tree that is well branched can support more fruits, hence the major pruning must be done during the dormant season, during the first two to three years. They must be pruned lightly during the growing season so that the tree acquires the desired shape. Unwanted laterals must be removed during mid-summer. To prevent cold injury to the tree, major pruning must be done just before the bud break in spring. In areas where there is winter freeze, pruning must be done in early spring. Broken, dead, and rotten branches must be removed immediately. The plums bloom from a combination of new wood and old, if the tree yields excess fruit, then remove the excess fruits after the unpollinated fruits drop out.
Pruning Guidelines:
◼ These trees have thin shoots, develop the best ones and remove the rest. Remove the tallest branches to control the height of the tree.

◼ While pruning, make sure you do not leave any ragged and torn edges as they might become an entry point for diseases. Inspect branches that are going inward, and remove them.
◼ While pruning, cut right in front of the branch bark ridge and the branch collar, while leaving the branch ridge and collar intact.

◼ Prune away the water sprouts and the stems that grow from the bottom of the trunk and the roots.
Japanese Plum Tree Characteristics
Physical Features
Japanese plum trees reach a height of 10 to 15 feet with a wider spread on maturity. Flowers appear in the first year, and the fruits in the following spring. In mature trees, blooms nearly conceal the branches in thousands, the bark is deep green or reddish brown.
The 3-inch narrow leaves appear red before changing their color to green. The plums are ready between mid-May to early October for harvest. Depending on the cultivar, their colors may vary from yellow, green, orange, red, purple to bordering black.
Growth Features
These trees require deep, loose, well-drained acidic soil, with a soil pH range of 5.5 to 6.5 is ideal. They need full exposure to the sun, trees that are exposed to wet, cool weather tend to suffer from diseases and fruit cracking. Don't water them regularly, they just need a sprinkler irrigation treatment every two to three weeks with 3-inch organic mulch layer to moist them. Young trees require 4 to 8 ounces of urea fertilizer from April to July.
Fruit-bearing trees require 1-2 pound urea in spring and post harvest. Pruning of diseased and damaged branches during winter can expose the trees to sufficient sunlight which is very essential.
Likely Diseases and Useful Treatments
These trees are frequently threatened by cold wet weather, insects, and diseases. Treatments include spraying them in winter with oil controls, the oil destroys the pest eggs. Flowers can be protected with myclobutanil fungicide against brown rot disease. Fixed copper spraying in autumn destroys shot hole disease. Chemical sprays must be used according to label specifications.
Helpful Sprays
Bordeaux Mixture is excellent for prevention against plant disease. Composed of copper sulfate, lime, and water, it protects the tree against fungicide and bacteria. The only caution that needs to be taken is that this mixture should be used when the plums are dormant. Copper Fungicide is used for the prevention of brown rot and powdery mildew. A note of caution against using it over a long period of time as it will buildup on the soil, which will harm the roots. Sulfur Fungicide is used for the prevention of rusts, powdery mildew, black spots, and leaf spots. Oil Fungicide is used for the prevention of mildew, leaf spots, and rots. It is also used against insects. Tip: It is best to follow the manufacturer's directions on the label for the recommended usage of fungicides and pesticides.
Types of Japanese Plum Trees
Au Rosa: These are medium in size and spread, and moderately productive plum trees. Fruits are medium to large in size with red flesh, and color is dark red.
Black Amber: A mid seasonal tree, the fruits have a black-red skin with an amber flesh. This variety yields to bacterial diseases and is not recommended for humid conditions.
Early Golden: These trees are highly productive and sturdy. Fruits are of golden yellow color with a reed blush. They are very sweet and medium-sized. Needs cross-pollination with another Japanese plum for heavy cropping.
Fortune: These are vigorous and upright trees that bear fruits that are medium to large in size, reddish-purple in color and very sweet.
Friar: These trees are upright and productive. Fruits are large oval deep purple in color, and juicy, and sweet when ripe.
Methley: These trees bear fruits that are purple, red, and possess a distinctive flavor.
Queen Rosa: Fruits of these trees are dark purple in color with red flesh.
Ruby Queen: Vigorous and upright, these trees bear fruits that are reddish black with firm red flesh.
Santa Rosa: The trees are upright and productive and widely planted. Fruits are large, attractive, dark, reddish, purple in color with yellow flesh.
Satsuma: These are upright and productive. Fruits are medium-sized and very sweet. They can be susceptible to cracks in extreme wet conditions.
Shiro: They have a wide spread and are very productive. Fruits are round, juicy, and yellow in color.
Vanier: These trees are vigorous and upright. Fruits are red, yellow-fleshed and clingstone.
Wickson: These trees are vigorous and upright, but tend to be a shy cropper. Fruits are large, greenish-yellow, and heart-shaped.
These ornamental trees bearing white to pink flowers and juicy heart-shaped fruits can be a delight. They are a good choice for beginners or amateur gardeners as they adapt widely, are compact, and require barely any treatment than most other fruit trees. Not only are the plums delicious, they add so much beauty to the garden as well.