The Japanese plum tree is a fruit-bearing tree that produces a sweet fruit plum and flowering white blossoms. Despite by the name, the tree is native to China and was brought to America in the 1800s. A Japanese plum tree fairs best between the USDA hardiness zones 5 and 9, which lowest temperature is 7 degrees Celsius, and is much better suited to warmer summer temperatures. If you have a Japanese plum tree keep in mind it is susceptible to late spring frost as it bears fruit earlier than European or American hybrid plum trees. It will take about three to four years before your Japanese plum begins to bear fruit. When caring for a Japanese plum take special care to watch out for aphids, mite eggs, scale, brown rot, and peach borer.
Where to Plant
Look for a sunny location where the soil will drain easily. Avoid locations that may have a higher risk of frost. Low-lying areas are more likely to frost and should be avoided when planting your tree.
How to Plant
Once you have found the ideal place to plant your tree dig a hole that is three times bigger than the root ball in diameter and deep enough that the root ball will be one inch above the soil line. Fill the hole back in with dirt. Add four inches of mulch to the area surrounding the tree trunk. Mulching locks in the moisture and provides nutrients to the roots. If you are planting more than one tree plant the trees 20 feet to 25 feet apart.
You should water your plum tree generously once a week in the first season. While the tree can generally withstand dry climates, it is important to keep your tree wet. It is a good idea to water your tree with a drip irrigation system to ensure the tree receives is well-supplied with water. One inch of water weekly is advised normal weather. In warmer weather you may have to water more frequently. If the leaves on your plum tree start to turn brown it is an indicator that the tree is getting too dry.
Pruning and Harvesting
Keeping your tree pruned will help to prevent pests from attacking your tree. You should prune your tree so it has an open center to prevent any dark areas that will attract insects.
Be sure to remove any shoots older that a year old. Removing these shoots trains fruit to grow on older, stronger spurs and prevent the weight of the fruit from becoming to heavy causing the fruit to fall on the ground and spoil prior to harvesting. Before you prune your tree, wait until the first fruiting. At that time every other plum will drop off. You can then hand prune your tree thinning it so the fruit is spaced three to four inches apart.
Plums are ready to be harvested when they begin to get soft. To remove the fruit from the tree gentle twist the fruit from the spur. Store in a cool dry place and let ripen.