Plums! How to grow your own Plum Tree in a pot
Plums are a diverse stone-fruit coming in a wide range of shapes, sizes, skin colours and tastes which vary from extremely sweet to quite tart. They are delicious fresh and ideal for lunch boxes or snacks on the run. They are also fantastic in hot and cold desserts, stewed, grilled, baked or sautéed, and in fruit salads or pies. Plums make tasty sauces for various meats or ice-cream and can also be preserved in jams.
Australian Plums are generally available between November and April, but growing your own Plum tree is one of the easiest and most prolific fruit trees to grow in your garden. If you have missed the bare-rooted planting season, you can still find potted plum trees at your local garden centre or nursery.
How to grow a Plum Tree in a pot
When growing in pots or small spaces, choose a dwarf varieties, such as Ruby Blood, Satsuma or Mariposa Dwarf plums. Remember, you’ll need at least two fruit trees for fruit set, but if you don’t have room, grow Santa Rosa Dwarf plum, which is self-fertile.
1. Choose a pot at least 600mm wide. Position in full sun and fill with quality potting mix.
2. Remove the shrub from the container, gently tease the roots and cut away any circled or tangled roots.
3. Position in hole and backfill, gently firming down. Water in well.
4. Mulch with an organic mulch, such as bark chips, sugar cane or pea straw ensuring to keep it away from the trunk.
5. Water deeply, once or twice a week, depending on weather conditions.
6. Feed your tree once every autumn and late summer with plant fertiliser. When flowering and fruiting, feed weekly with citrus liquid plant food to help promote fruit production.
• Neither European nor Japanese plums (with the exception of ‘Santa Rosa’) are self fertile and require a pollinator belonging to the same group to set fruit. Japanese and European plums do not cross-pollinate as they are different species.
• Prune trees in winter, removing crowded branches and weak stems, to help open up the centre and encourage new growth. Once a framework has been established, little pruning is required.
• Water well when in leaf during dry weather – drip-irrigation is ideal. Avoid wetting foliage when watering or feeding.
• European plums fruit on two-year-old wood and Japanese plums fruit on one-year-old wood, both on spurs which crop for a few years.
• ‘Angelina’, ‘President’ and ‘Grand Duke’ are popular European varieties. Any two will cross-pollinate.
• Most plums set too much fruit, so thinning is necessary to boost fruit size and ease the weight on the branches.
• Remove fallen or spoiled fruit to prevent the spread of pests and diseases.
• For the best flavour, allow plums to ripen on the tree – they’re ready for picking when they’re soft.