European plums, Prunus domestica, arose in the Caucasus mountains near the Caspian Sea as a natural hybrid of sloes (Prunus spinosa) and cherry plum (Prunus cerasifera). People have been enjoying their sumptuous fruits for over 2,000 years.
Plums are exceptionally diverse in colour, size and shape, but fit into five main groups: ‘greengages’, very sweet, green to golden in colour, round in shape; ‘prunes’, oval and purple used for drying; yellow or red ‘egg-shaped plums’ used for jam and canning; the ‘Victoria’ or ‘Lombard’ plums’ which are standard garden plums; and ‘gage-plums’ which combine something of the flavour or gages with the larger fruits of plums.
Plums tolerate a wide range of soils including clay soils, but will not thrive where waterlogging occurs. Sheltering from wind aids pollination and limits mature fruit loss and branch breakage in summer, but they do poorly if shaded.
Although very hardy, plums flower early and their blossom is vulnerable to frost damage. Where late frosts are likely consider wall or fence cultivation to fend off the worst of the frost, and apply fleece protection on chilly nights.
Unfortunately, the very dwarfing rootstocks that make some fruit trees small enough to fit into limited space are not available for plums. Fan-training against a sunny fence or wall or pruning to form ‘pyramids’ are good alternatives.
Like most tree fruits, plums are produced by ‘grafting’, or its summer equivalent ‘budding’, the cultivar scion onto a rootstock that controls the tree size and earliness to fruit or precocity.
For most gardens, ‘Pixie’ or VVA-1 are the best rootstocks, restricting trees to about 3-4m, while ‘Wavit’ and ‘St Julien A’ produce 4.5-5m trees, with ‘Brompton’ and ‘Myrobalan’ rootstocks producing larger trees unsuited to most gardens.
RECOMMENDED RHS AGM PLUMS
Continue reading your story on the app
Continue reading your story in the magazine
Coping With...Feeling Dizzy
Dizziness is a common symptom that usually settles on its own and is rarely serious, says Dr Gill Jenkins
Let's Get Gardening
All the news and best buys hand-picked for you
8 Cancer Signs You Might Be Missing
A lump, unexplained pain or weight loss are changes we associate with cancer, but there are more subtle ones
Recipes For Your Fruit
Plums are such wonderfully diverse ingredients – they can be used in cakes, chutneys or even savoury dishes
The garden at NIGHT
If you’re in the dark about the lighting in your garden, now’s the chance to let it truly sparkle
TOP 10 Autumn hips and berries
Hips and berries can elevate the October garden with their gem-like colours
RHS Chief Horticulturist Guy Barter shares his how-to on perfecting plum growing
Trees can bring structure, shade and fabulous colour to a garden, particularly through the autumn
With so many stunning varieties to choose from, acers are among the most beautiful trees for small gardens, says Adrienne Wild
From early summer to late autumn, shrubby salvias will sparkle like jewels
5 FOOD that promote a better nights sleep naturally
Whether you have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, there are many strategies one can take to help improve one’s night sleep. Many choose to opt for sleeping aids, melatonin, essential oils, and more. But did you know that food can actually play a huge role in your night's sleep?
Logitech Ergo K860
Great keys meet great posture
Cool Technologies to Teach Kids About Medicine
The COVID-19 pandemic has made it clear; we need more good doctors, nurses, healthcare workers, and medical technology innovators.
The Hierarchy of Tragedy
In this British series about the AIDS crisis, doom confers importance.
“Take Two Kittens and Call Me In the Morning”
Can Cats Help Humans Be Healthier?
Are you Vitamin C DEFICIENT?
Here’s a fun fact for you: Humans are the ONLY mammals that don’t make their own vitamin C.
Hone Your Skills Making Functional Storage
Living a Better Life with HIV
AIDS is a disease caused by human immunodeficiency virus, which targets and weakens the body's immune system.
No Average Joe
As he pushes past his own personal pain, Dr. Joseph Cofrancesco continues to dedicate his life’s work to helping others.
GARY MILLER Distorted Portraits
Distorted Portraits is a series of colorful mixed-media works in which I explore a contemporary, exaggerated, and dynamic approach to portraiture.