Why Isn't Your Plum Tree Producing Plums?

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When I bought a house with a cherry blossom tree in the front yard, I couldn't wait for that first blooming season to see the tree fill out. I knew that the tree needed care, but I wasn't sure how I was supposed to treat it. I called my local tree service and had them show me what it needed to keep it strong. I took all of the information they shared with me and everything else I've learned and created this site. I hope that the information here helps you take care of your blossoming trees so that you can enjoy their beauty every season.

Why Isn't Your Plum Tree Producing Plums?

18 January 2017
 Categories: , Articles

Having a plum tree in your yard can provide you with a great source of sweet, juicy fruit -- if your plum tree actually produces any plums! If you have a plum tree that is bearing little to no fruit, it's important to figure out what's causing this lack of production so you can (hopefully) do something about it.

Here's a look at the common reasons why a plum tree may not produce.

You have not been pruning it.

Plum trees need to be pruned annually in the winter or very early spring while they are dormant. Pruning removes the old, dead branches that no longer produce fruit, leaving more water and nutrients for the younger, more productive branches. If you have not had your tree pruned in several years, this could be why it's not producing. Pruning the tree too late (once the buds have already appeared) can also impede fruit production.

If you're not an expert tree trimmer, it's often easier to hire a professional to do this for you. This way, you can be confident that the right branches are pruned away and at the right time. With any luck, the tree will begin bearing plums again the summer after you have it properly pruned.

The tree is not getting enough water.

Do you live in a dry environment, or is your plum tree planted at the top of a hill where the soil dried out easily? It's possible that your tree is getting enough water to survive -- but not enough to bear fruit. Try watering your tree a few times per week. Apply the water in a wide circle around the tree since this is where the roots are found. Try not to get the branches and leaves wet, as this can lead to fungal infection.

You can also try applying wood mulch around the base of the tree. (Just don't pile it directly against the trunk as this can cause rot.) The mulch slows evaporation of water from the soil, allowing your tree to obtain more moisture.

Your tree needs a pollinating partner.

In order for the tree to bear fruit, it must be pollinated. Plum trees are not self-fertile, which means their flowers cannot be pollinated with their own pollen; they need a pollinating partner. If there are no other plum trees in your area, your plum tree is probably not getting pollinated, and it won't produce fruit until you plant a pollinating partner.

Visit your local garden store to purchase a second plum sapling to plant. If you have a Japanese plum tree, make sure you buy another Japanese plum variety. If you have a European plum tree, make sure you buy another European variety. The two types bloom at different times, so they won't pollinate each other. If you're not sure what variety of plum tree you have, bring some pictures of it with you to the garden center. They can help you determine its variety and recommend the best pollinating partner.

Once your second plum tree becomes established and starts blooming, the more mature tree should begin producing fruit. Care for the second tree properly, ensuring you prune it annually and water it often. Within a few years, it will start producing plums, too!

If your plum tree has been trimmed regularly, is getting water, and has a pollinating partner -- but is still not producing fruit -- contact a tree care company in your area, such as General Tree Service. It's possible that the tree has a fungal infection that is impeding fruit production or that your soil is devoid of certain nutrients. The tree care company can diagnose your tree and test your soil to pin down the problem before recommending specific treatments.