Plum Growing Guide

5 Steps to Plum Planting Success

  • Choose a sunny spot in fertile, well drained soil. Winter is the best time to plant plum trees in New Zealand. 
  • Prepare your soil with organic matter like compost and sheep pellets.
  • Add a layer of citrus & fruit mix to plant into.
  • Feed your plums in spring and summer to encourage maximum flowering and fruiting.
  • Water well, particularly over the warmer months.

Follow our full guide below to a bumper crop of homegrown plums.

Plums are one of the best fruits to grow in your home garden and produce delicious, juicy fruit with very little effort. The flesh of plums can be red, purple, green, yellow and even white depending on the variety. Plums contain higher levels of antioxidants than most other fruit and they are also a great source of vitamin A, potassium and dietary fibre.

Prepare

For successful plums, grafted trees are the best option. Plum seeds are unpredictable and germination may take up to 18 months. It is best to purchase two year old trees that have been grown from grafted cuttings.

Choose a plum variety based on your taste preferences. Many varieties need a pollinator to ensure fruit is produced, although some are self-fertile. It’s a good idea to plant more than one tree if you have room, to ensure a better fruiting crop.

Popular plum varieties include: Billington, Black Doris, Burbank (Japanese), Damson, English Greengage, Omega, Santa Rosa, Shino and Wilson's Early.

Choose a position in full sun and away from strong winds. They also prefer deep, fertile and well drained soil. Plums will tolerate wetter conditions better than other stone fruit but will develop root rot with excessive water logging.

Like building a house a good foundation is the key to success in your garden. The better the soil, the better your plants will grow.

If you are starting with an existing garden bed dig in organic matter like Tui Sheep Pellets and Tui Compost to your soil. Then you can add a layer of Tui Citrus & Fruit Mix.

Plant

Winter is the best time to plant plum trees in New Zealand. 

The best times to plant are early in the morning or late in the day, so the plants aren’t exposed to the hot sun straight away. 

Planting plums in the garden

  • Soak plants in a bucket of Tui Organic Seaweed Plant Tonic and allow to drain. This will help prevent transplant shock and give your plant a healthy boost.
  • Add a layer of Tui Citrus & Fruit Mix to the planting area.
  • Dig a hole, approximately twice the depth and width of the root ball of your plant.
  • Gently loosen the root ball of your plant and position the plant in the centre of the hole.
  • Fill in with Tui Citrus & Fruit Mix.
  • Press soil gently around the base of the plant.
  • Water your plant well and continue to water regularly.

Nourish

Feed your plants and they will feed you. Plums use nutrients from the soil as they grow, so replenishing the nutrients ensures they will grow to their full potential, improving flowering and fruiting so they produce abundant and juicy crops.

Feed your plum tree in spring and summer with a balanced fertiliser such as Tui NovaTec Premium Fertiliser. If you’re wanting to feed for longer, Tui Enrich Fruit, Citrus, Tree & Shrub Controlled Release Fertiliser will feed for up to six months and is formulated with high levels of potassium for optimum flowering and fruiting.

Plums require adequate and regular supplies of water through the dry season. Be careful not to overwater as this can result in waterlogging and split maturing fruit.

While your plums are growing regularly apply a dose of Tui Organic Seaweed Plant Tonic to give them a welcome boost.

Well watered, well nourished plums will have a better chance of keeping insect pests and diseases at bay.

Harvesting

Plums mature from summer through to autumn. It will take about 20 weeks from fruit set to picking. Some trees will take less time, depending on the size of the fruit. Plum fruit will be firm and brightly coloured when close to maturity.

Plums are best picked when ripe, otherwise they may not have the same sweetness. Pick with care to prevent bruising and damage to fruit spurs.

Pruning

Plums produce fruit on spurs that grow on wood that is between 1 and 3 years old. Prune plums yearly in late summer after harvest to a vase or fan shape.

Use sharp secateurs to make clean cuts on an angle, above a bud or branch. Shorten weak laterals, trim back laterals that have already fruited and thin vigorous shoots back by one third. Also, remove any dead, diseased or criss-crossing wood.

tui tips

  • Netting may be required to deter birds when fruit is ripening.
  • Mulch around the tree with Tui Mulch & Feed, to suppress weeds and retain moisture and nutrition. 
  • Plums can be stored for up to two or three weeks in the fridge.

For tips on growing other fruit tree varieties follow our Fruit Tree Growing Guide >

 

When should I plant
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  • Harvest in 2-4 Years