How Big Does a Plum Tree Grow?

Prunus americana, the American plum, is usually a shrub with many stems, but it can grow into a small tree up to 20″ tall. In early spring, the tree has white flowers that smell good. In the summer, it has red plums that can be used to make jams and jellies. The tree will make your backyard look better and help you welcome summer with open arms.

The fruits are edible and used in making jams, jellies, preserves, and even wine. Even though the plums have sour skins, they taste sweet and sour when they are fresh. They can also be pitted and dried like prunes to make Kershaw, which is fruit leather.

Prunus americana grows on the edges of woodlands and prairies and prefers an acidic, well-drained loamy soil. It grows well in full sun or partial shade and doesn’t require much upkeep.

The wild plum tree is easy to transplant and can be grown from seeds. Every year, the plant bears fruit that is ready to pick in August or September. In April or May, it flowers.

If you want to fertilize a bare root plant, you should usually wait until it is well established in the ground and growing. This can be different for each plant and its growing conditions, but in general, you should wait at least a few weeks to a few months after planting.

You should make sure the plant has the right amount of water, sunlight, and soil for the first year to help it get established. Once the plant has become established and is actively growing, you can begin to fertilize it.

You may use a balanced, all-purpose fertilizer, or you may use one that is made just for your plant. Be sure to follow the instructions on the fertilizer package and apply it at the recommended rate.

It is also important to remember that plants can die if they get too much fertilizer, so it is always better to be safe and start with less fertilizer and add more as needed.

American Plum (Prunus americana) is typically self-fertile and does not require a pollinator for fruit production. However, having multiple plants in close proximity can improve fruit set and increase overall yield. The American Plum flower is hermaphroditic, which means it has both male and female reproductive parts. This lets it pollinate itself. However, cross-pollination from another variety can also improve fruit quality and size. The flowers are pollinated by insects such as bees, flies and beetles. Having a lot of pollinators in your area is a good idea to make sure that fruit sets well.

Plum trees are a popular choice for home gardens and orchards. Their delicious fruit is versatile for eating fresh or preserving into jams, chutneys, and more. But before planting a plum tree, it’s helpful to understand how big they grow. Proper spacing and pruning are needed to keep plum trees a manageable size.

Typical Mature Size of Plum Trees

Most plum trees range in height from 10-20 feet when fully grown The width or spread of the canopy is often similar to the height, reaching 10-25 feet across at maturity.

However, exact size depends on several factors:

  • Type of plum: European, Japanese, American, and hybrid plums range in size when mature.

  • Rootstock Standard rootstock produces the largest trees, while dwarfing rootstock limits size

  • Pruning: Regular pruning and training when young affects mature size.

  • Growing conditions: Rich soil and ample water and sun enable maximum growth potential.

Next, we’ll look at how the different types of plums compare in their growth habits.

European Plum Tree Size

European plum varieties (Prunus domestica) are generally the largest type. When grown on standard rootstock and left unpruned, they typically reach 15-20 feet tall and wide.

Well-known European plum cultivars like Stanley and Italian Prune fit in this size range. Even on dwarfing rootstock, they may still reach 10-15 feet at maturity.

These full-size European plum trees work well for orchards and large properties. Expect them to occupy a space of about 200-400 square feet when grown without restriction.

Japanese Plum Tree Size

Japanese plum trees (Prunus salicina) are marginally smaller than European types, averaging 12-18 feet tall and 12-20 feet wide when grown on standard roots.

Popular Japanese varieties like Santa Rosa, Satsuma, and Shiro are moderately vigorous growers. On dwarfing rootstock, mature height is limited to 8-12 feet.

For homeowners wanting plums but without an expansive yard, Japanese plum varieties grafted onto dwarfed roots are excellent choices. The dwarf Santa Rosa plum is ideally suited to patio planting.

American Plum Tree Size

Native American plum species (Prunus americana, P. subcordata, P. angustifolia) are the smallest of the plum trees. They typically reach 10-15 feet in height and width at maturity.

Cultivated varieties of the American plums like Sapalta and Bruce generally remain on the smaller end of this range. Their naturally compact growth makes them a good option where space is limited.

Even smaller are the hybrid plums derived from crossing Japanese and American types. Most grow 6-10 feet tall and wide. Look for cultivars like Scarlet Beauty, Early Golden, and Gulfblaze when restricted space is an issue.

Factors Affecting Plum Tree Size

Beyond genetics, several other factors come into play when determining the ultimate size of a plum tree:

  • Rootstock: Using dwarfing rootstock like Gisela or Pixy limits the size of any plum variety grafted onto it.

  • Pruning and training: Pruning and branch training when young keeps trees smaller than unrestricted growth.

  • Growing conditions: Rich, moist soil enables trees to achieve their full genetic potential for height and width.

  • Age: It takes 8-10 years for most plum trees to reach their mature size specification.

Proper planning is needed when siting plum trees in your landscape or garden. The following chart provides size guidelines for common plum tree varieties:

Plum Variety Height Width
European (standard) 15-20 feet 15-20 feet
European (dwarf) 10-15 feet 10-15 feet
Japanese (standard) 12-18 feet 12-20 feet
Japanese (dwarf) 8-12 feet 8-12 feet
American 10-15 feet 10-15 feet
American Hybrid 6-10 feet 6-10 feet

Pruning to Control Size

In addition to choosing the right variety and rootstock, pruning is key to managing the size of plum trees.

Here are some pruning tips:

  • Start pruning early – this trains the scaffold branches and limits excess growth.

  • Maintain an open center shape for air and light penetration by pruning inner branches.

  • Remove vertical water sprouts and root suckers regularly.

  • Shorten long branches by cutting back to side branches or buds.

  • Remove about 25% of new growth each year in mature trees.

With proper maintenance pruning every year, plum trees can be kept much smaller than their natural spreading habit would otherwise allow.

Spacing Plum Trees Properly

Allow enough space for plum trees to grow when planting. As a guideline:

  • Space standard plum trees at least 15-20 feet apart.

  • Dwarf plum trees should be spaced 10-15 feet apart.

  • For American hybrids, allow 6-10 feet between trees.

The roots of plum trees are shallow but spread widely in search of moisture and nutrients. Crowing trees will eventually bump branches unless properly spaced.

You can plant plum trees closer together and then remove every other one once they start touching. But it’s best to plan proper spacing from the start.

Potted Plum Trees For Small Spaces

For those with very limited space, planting plum trees in containers is an option. This restricts root growth and keeps trees much smaller.

Select a dwarf variety grafted on dwarfing rootstock. Allow at least a 15-20 gallon pot for each tree, using a quality potting mix. Expect to water and fertilize frequently to support health and productivity.

Limit size by pruning more aggressively – up to 50% of new growth can be removed each year. Container plum trees may reach only 4-6 feet tall at maturity with this management strategy.

Enjoying Plums Without the Huge Tree

While full-size plum trees have their merits, not everyone has room for large trees. By selecting compact varieties matched to your site, employing pruning techniques, and properly spacing trees, it’s possible to reap a plum harvest without oversized plants.

If you have little space, focus on dwarf Japanese varieties or American hybrid plums. With smart plantation, even the smallest backyard can produce its own homegrown plums.

Why Buy From Us?

We are happy you found our online bare root plant nursery! We sell only the best bare root trees, nursery plants, and garden plants at low prices. Because we know how important it is to have a nice garden, we only sell the best plants at prices that are easy on the wallet.

There are many types of fruit trees, berry bushes, perennial flowers, deciduous trees, evergreen trees, and more in our selection of bare root trees, shrubs, and plants. We have different kinds of trees that are great for all kinds of gardens, whether you want trees that grow quickly, trees that can handle drought, trees that can handle cold, native trees, or exotic trees.

Because they are easier to plant and take off quickly, our bare root trees are better than potted trees. They are also cheaper. They are carefully selected and grown to ensure they are healthy, and ready to thrive in your garden.

We also have a lot of seedlings, including tree seedlings, for people who want to start from scratch and grow their own trees. The trees we sell at low prices are high-quality and will give you many years of enjoyment in your garden.

People who want to buy a lot of trees for their landscaping business, park, or other business project can get them at our wholesale nursery at a discount if they buy them in bulk. Contact us directly for wholesale requests.

It’s easy to find the right plants from the comfort of your own home with our online nursery. We also ship quickly and reliably, so your bare root trees, shrubs, and plants can be sent right to your door.

We are very careful when we ship and package our plants so that they get to you in good shape. And our tree saplings, trees, and step-by-step instructions for planting trees will make it easy for you to get your new plants in the ground right away.

Thank you for choosing our online bare root plant nursery. We are confident that you will be completely satisfied with the quality and selection of our plants. Please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us if you have any questions or need help choosing the right plants for your garden.

  • 5 AMERICAN PLUM Posted by Kate on 07/06/22 Very healthy root system! The tree is a little smaller than I thought it would be, but the roots are deeper than the roots of bigger plum trees I’ve bought from other stores.
  • 5 Wild Plum Tree Shared by Darin Dillon on 05/11/22 Yes, I love the trees I ordered and got. I can’t wait to plant them and soon see fruit that is good enough to eat. Thanks to everyone at the Tree Store for being so helpful, professional, and having such great products!
  • 4. Wild plum Posted by Bill on May 1, 2019 Time will tell, I planted it the way the directions said to and am now waiting. I asked for two but only got one. But you gave me a tree, so I guess it was all good.
  • 4. Wild plum Posted by Bill on May 1, 2019 Time will tell, I planted it the way the directions said to and am now waiting. I asked for two but only got one. But you gave me a tree, so I guess it was all good.
  • 5 trees ready to plant Posted by Rex on 09/02/17 Got my two trees in a box from USPS, planted them, and they begin to grow.

Raintree Nursery’s Plum Growing Guide!

How tall do plum trees grow?

Plum tree rootstock will determine the height of the tree. Dwarf plums grow 8 to 10 feet tall; semi-dwarf plums from 10 to 12 feet tall; standard plums can grow to 20 feet tall or more. The fruiting wood or stems of a plum tree are commonly grafted onto a rootstock that is suitable for the soil it will grow in and can withstand common diseases.

How hard is it to grow a plum tree?

Growing plum trees is not too difficult as long as you give them what they need. Plums require full sun and well-drained, sandy soil in order to thrive. They prefer a soil with a pH that ranges from 5.5 to 6.5 . It is always a good idea to have your soil tested before planting any fruit tree to be sure that they pH is appropriate.

How do I choose a plum tree?

Space Consideration: The size of your garden space plays a crucial role in variety selection. Standard plum trees can grow quite large, but there are smaller options. Dwarf and Semi-Dwarf Varieties: These smaller trees are ideal for limited spaces. Dwarf varieties can be as short as 8-10 feet, while semi-dwarfs reach about 12-15 feet.

How long does it take a plum tree to grow?

Plums are produced on one year old lateral branches and on short branches called lateral spurs, which grow on wood at least two years old. Young trees may take 3-5 years after planting to develop fruiting spurs, but then the spurs may be productive for many years, so don’t cut them off.

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