Purple leaf plum is a deciduous ornamental tree cherished for its beautiful purple leaves and small pink colored flowers. Find out more about its maintenance and care.
Purple leaf plum tree (Prunus Cerasifera) is an ornamental tree, which is mainly popular for its rich purple or reddish foliage. It was in 1880 that this plant was introduced to the western world by M. Pissard, who brought it from Persia to France.
Purple leaf Plum tree is commonly known as cherry plum and myrobalan plum, this tree is now available in many hybrid varieties, the most popular being the Prunus Cerasifera Thundercloud, thanks to its exuberant reddish-purple foliage. The other widely grown cultivar is Prunus Cerasifera Atropurpurea which also has vivid purple leaves. This tree is quite popular in many parts of the United States.
Purple leaf plum tree is a small plant. The lifespan of this tree is comparatively short, as It generally lives up to 20 years on an average. It can reach a height of 25 feet, however, many of them are found in the range between 15 to 25 feet. At maturity, the tree grows to a width of 20 to 25 feet.
The ornamental purple leaf plum tree is really attractive due to its purple leaves and beautiful pale pink or white flowers. These characteristic leaves are ovate with serrated margins and grow to a length of about 1.5 – 3 inches.
The tree starts flowering early in the spring, i.e. from February to April with small, fragrant light pink or white colored flowers. Purple leaf plum tree is one of those few trees, whose blooming marks the arrival of spring. The leaves appear just after the fading of the flowers. Leaves are generally shed in the month of August and by the end of September, the tree completely loses its foliage.
Purple leaf plum trees bear small, deep red or purple colored fruits in July. The fruits are usually about the size of a cherry and ripen in August. They are edible, and can be eaten raw or used to make jam, depending on whether they are sweet or sour. Squirrels and birds are frequent visitors to the tree to feast on these fruits. Seeds are the unit for propagation, though you can also use vegetative parts for that purpose.
How to Grow
Purple leaf plum tree can be grown in any soil type, though a rich loamy soil is preferred, and it should be moist and well drained. A slightly acidic soil is suitable for planting this tree, though it can be grown in other types of soil too.
The place selected for growing this tree should be well exposed to sunlight. The trees that are grown in shady areas usually produce green and not purple leaves. Though it can withstand heat and drought to some extent, watering during summer will prove beneficial for the healthy growth of the tree.
This is a very important part of maintenance and care for the purple leaf plum tree. Pruning can encourage blossoming of this tree and make it more attractive. It is also important to remove the damaged and dead branches occasionally to retain the ornamental value.
Watering should be done on a regular basis, but do not water the plant too often. If it gets too hot, water the tree deeply at its base. A point to note is that a young plum tree has a tendency to bend, especially after a rain. Though it does regain its former posture once the leaves have dried completely, a heavy rain can result in permanent drooping. This problem can also be solved by pruning.
Though the tree is great for enhancing the look of your garden and lawn, the flowers can attract many undesirable insects. Bees will be more common during the flowering season, while the tree is also vulnerable to tent caterpillars, aphids, mealy bugs and other pests.
You may also witness some diseases like gray mold, cankers and leaf spots that can diminish the beauty of the purple leaf plum tree. Therefore, make sure to take care of this tree to give an attractive and fresh look to your garden.