Plum trees are a good addition to the landscape, supplying spring flowers and summer fruit. Self-pollinating plum trees provide fruit if they are implanted separately; others require another number planted nearby for cross-pollination. For colder regions, several varieties are hardy trees that can endure harsh weathernonetheless, if you live in a warm area, you will want to pick one that may tolerate humid temperatures that are warm.
American Plum Trees
The native American plum (Prunus americana) is a hardy plum tree booming in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 5 through 9, though it’s been known to rise in zones as cold as USDA zone 3. Growing to heights of 20 feet, the American plum is found wild in thick groupings with branches that spread out and entangle with one another. The tree can live in all soil types and prefers full sun. It produces white flowers in the spring and creamy red or yellow fruit in the summer. Although hardy, the native American plum is not normally the tree of choice due to the slightly smaller fruit size and lack of availability as growing inventory.
American-Japanese Hybrid Plum Trees
Although occasionally contained on the Japanese list of plum trees, hybrid plums change a bit from their complete Asian plum. These hybrid varieties are a mixture of Japanese and American plums and generally well liked by growers, combining the cold hardiness of their American plum using the larger fruit of Asian types. They are usually labeled as Prunus salincia hybrid in their scientific name, to set them apart from other Japanese plum trees. A few of the superior hardy hybrid plums are the “Alderman,” “Toka” and “Superior.” “Superior” (Prunus salicina hybrid “Superior”) grows well in USDA zones 4 through 8 and was developed from the Minnesota University breeding program from the mid-1900s. Developed in 1985 from Minnesota University, “Alderman” (Prunus salicina hybrid “Alderman”) grows in colder climates with a USDA zone range of 3 through 8. Increasing to a maximum height of about 12 feet, this tree does well as an ornamental variety in a backyard setting. “Toka” (Prunus salicina hybrid “Toka”), sometimes referred to as the bubblegum plum, can get as tall as 14 feet and supplies big fruit at USDA zones 4 through 8. Preferring sandy or even clay soil, “Toka” does well in humid locations. To develop fruit on your plum trees, grow more than variety. Most hybrid plum trees will need to develop near other hybrid varieties to be able to pollinate and develop new fruit.
Japanese Plum Trees
Japanese or Oriental plum trees create larger fruit compared to the native American plums; nevertheless, finding one hardy enough to withstand the colder regions can be hard. “Shiro” (Prunus salicina “Shiro”) grows to a height of 20 feet, but comes from dwarf varieties that simply grow to ten feet. Hardy in USDA zones 5 through 9, “Shiro” can also be heat tolerant and creates yellow plums. “Ancient Golden” (Prunus salicina “Ancient Golden”) was released into the U.S. in 1946, produces reddish yellow fruit and grows to a height of approximately 15 feet. Hardy in USDA zones 5 through 10, “Ancient Golden” can also be heat tolerant. “Methley” (Prunus salicina “Methley”) is moderately cold hardy, growing in USDA zones 5 through 8, but is not as heat tolerant. But among Japanese plum trees, “Methley” is among just a few that is self-pollinating.
European Plum Trees
European plum trees are fairly hardy trees, growing in cooler climates, which makes it more difficult to find one that also does as well in warm weather. Most grow best in USDA zones 4 through 8, with some doing better in USDA zones 5 through 8. “Green Gage” (Prunus domestica “Green Gage”) is a special plum using green fruit that grows to a height of about 14 feet; it is hardy in USDA zones 4 through 8. It’s been from the U.S for a while, having been brought over from Europe in the 18th century. “Stanley” (Prunus domestica “Stanley”) plum tree creates a good canning fruit that does well in preserves or dried as prunes. It is hardy in USDA zones 5 through 8 and grows to a height of 15 feet.