Plums (European - Prunus domestica; Japanese -P. salicina)-Hort Answers - University of Illinois Extension
University of Illinois Extension

University of Illinois Extension

Hort Answers

Tree Fruit

European - Prunus domestica; Japanese -P. salicina


Plums require well-drained soils. Avoid low-lying areas. A good site is a sloping area with good air drainage on a northern or northeastern slope to help delay bloom. Plant in early spring as soon as the ground can be worked. Dig a hole that is big enough to accomodate the roots. Cut long, and dead roots before planting. If unbranched tree is planted, cut it back to 30 inches above the ground. European and hybrid plums are trained on central leader system. The major pruning operation need to be done in early spring before buds swell.

Fertilizer application is based on the age of the tree, and generally 1/2 pound of complete fertilizer such as 10-10-10 for each year of tree's age use up to a maximum of 6 pounds per tree, and spread on a circle one ft from the trunk extending to the dripline. During the first five years, mulch needs to be put on a circle around the trunk to control weeds. The trunks need to be protected from mice and rabbit damage, and also need to painted with white latex paint to protect them from fluctuating winter temperatures. Plums are grown on rootstocks that vary from native prunus species to other commercial rootstocks such as St. Julien. In nothern climates, select varieties budded on cold hardy rootstocks.


European Plums: Damson, Dietz, Green Gage, Italian, Lombard, Mount Royal, Stanley, Golden Drop, Long John, Kuban, Comet, Yellow Egg, Grand Duke, Diamond, Tragedy, President ,French Sugar, German Robe, Reine Claude, Jefferson, Washington

Japanese Plums: Beauty, Cocheco, Early Golden, Hollywood, Methley, Obinaja, Shiro, Santa Rosa

Hybrids & other american types: Alderman, Chinook, Ember, Fiebig ,Gracious, Hanska, Kaga, Lacrescent Monitor, Redcoat, Redglow, South dakota, Superior, Underwood, Waneta

Mature Height
0 Feet (Depends with tree type - Standard, Semi-dwarf, Dwarf)
Mature Width
Harvest Time
June - August


USDA Hardiness Zone
4 - 9 
Soil Conditions
Moist, Well-Drained
Exposure/Light Requirements
Full Sun
Fruit Color
Pests and Problems

Animal Damage

Bacterial Disease

Environmental Damage

Fungal Disease

Insect Damage

Additional pests and problems that may affect this plant:

Insects and insect relatives:
  • Plum curculio (Conotrachelus nenuphar)
  • Oriental fruit moth (Grapholitha molesta)
  • Apple green aphid (Rhopalosiphum fitchii)
  • San Jose scale (Quadraspidiotus periciousus)
  • European fruit lecanium scale (Parthenolecanium corni)
  • Oystershell scale (Lepidosaphes ulmi)
  • Green peach aphid (Myzus persicae)
  • Tarnished plant bug (Lygus lineolaris)
  • Peachtree borer (Synanthedon exitiosa)
  • Lesser peachtree borer (Synanthedon pictipes)
  • Peach bark beetle (Phloeotribus liminaris)
  • Shothole borer (Scolytus rugulosus)
  • European red mite (Panonychus ulmi)
  • Two spotted spider mites (Tetranchus urticae)
  • Brown mite (Bryobia rubrioculus)


  • Bacterial spot (Xanthomonas subsp. pruni)
  • Black knot (Apiosporina morbosum)
  • Brown rot (Monilinia fructicola)
  • Phytophthora root rot (Phytophthora spp.)
  • Powdery mildew (Sphaerotheca pannosa)
  • Brownline (Tomato ringspot virus)
  • Plum pox virus
  • Prune dwarf virus
Additional Notes
Most of the European plums are self-fruitful. Japanese plums and hybrids need pollenizers. Japanese plums bloom early so the blossoms are more susceptible to early spring frost damage. The fruits of European plums varies in color, shape and flesh characteristics. They are grouped into five categories: Prunes for drying, green gage (round fruits with small suture), yellow egg (small and mainly for canning), blue plums, and red plums.


Related Resources
Home, Yard & Garden Pest Guide
U of IL - Distance Diagnosis through Digital Imaging
U of IL - Plant Clinic