How do care for my Purple Plum Bushes?

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My purple plum bushes are not growing full and I feed them often.

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  • Lynn Sorrell Lynn Sorrell on Jan 05, 2019

    They need Thinning here's article on how to-----First year dormant pruning can be approached as creating either an open center of modified central leader system. In an open center system, exterior lateral branches are selected and the interior branches are pruned out. Sometimes spreader sticks and branch weights are used to widen the branch angles of the plum scaffold branches. If using a modified central leader system, prune all branches to about twelve inches from the trunk of the tree. The resulting new growth will force some exterior branches to grow laterally and the dense interior branches can be pruned out later. At the end of May, gradually begin removing some of the immature fruit clusters. This increases the leaf to fruit ratio and removes smaller fruit that would never attain a greater size or quality and, in turn, increase the size of the remaining fruit. Then in July when the fruit is still hard, thin out the plums that are damaged, bruised or diseased as well as those that are too close together. In a perfect world, you should leave around 3 inches between plums. Leave the identical number of fruit per branch but leave the large ones even if they are spaced a little too close together. Spacing evenly along a branch or leaving one fruit per spur is ideal, but more important is to leave the largest fruit on the tree. No matter how well spaced, small plums will never get as large as big ones no matter how well spaced. You will need to use your best judgment and prune methodically. This may take a couple of years of trial and error before you get it just right, but keep in mind that most home gardeners do not thin enough fruit off so you can pretty much “go for it.” A final method for thinning plums is interesting. Apparently, you can bang the unripe plums off. Use a 4-foot length of flexible ½-inch PVC pipe or a broom handle with 1-2 feet of garden hose on the end and hit the limbs laden with unripe plums lightly, increasing your force until the unripe plums cascade down. The theory being that once the majority of the small, unripe plums are brought down, the rest will gain in size and ripen more evenly as they mature. As I said, interesting.



  • Deb K Deb K on Jan 05, 2019

    Hi Al, General Care. Purple leaf plum trees tolerate some drought, although they'll grow better with regular watering. Water them every two to three weeks during dry, hot conditions. Fertilize purple leaf plum trees in spring with 1/2 cup of 12-6-6 fertilizer if growth is slow.

  • Kauai Breeze Kauai Breeze on Jan 05, 2019

    Plum bushes need sun, so make sure they get lots of sun. You may be feeding them to often. If they are getting leggy, they need to be pruned back. Pruning will force the bush to put out side shoots to fill in voids between branches. Prune them in the winter when they are dormant.

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