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Fruit, flowers, autumn colour: top plums

Japanese blood plum Lizzie
Japanese blood plum Lizzie’s branches weighed down with blossom

Lizzie, a Japanese blood plum that arrived in a bumper bundle of mystery fruit trees, is a constant source of delight.

it blooms as early as the end of January and shows good frost resistance. Luckily, the tree doesn’t get the sun in late winter/early spring until lunchtime – I wouldn’t risk planting one in an open situation facing east.

In the first year, her branches were weighed down with fruit and they had been thinned by half.

If you’re looking for a small tree that does the lot ornamentally and earns it keep, you can’t do better than Lizzie.

Plums
Ripe plums

There also seems to be not much information about the variety. One says it’s a new Asian plum (Prunus salicina, compared to the more usual European plum, Prunus domestica) that has been bred in America; another that it was bred in East Anglia. Take your choice.

Its medium-sized fruit are described as ‘remarkably sweet and juicy – they’re almost candy-like and unlike any other plum we know, with blood-red flesh’.

The tree is self-fertile. The fully-grown 4m tree on a St Julien rootstock has an upright to rounded shape and has good autumn colour, holding onto its leaves until late in the season.


Pruning plums

Plums
Plum Lizzie full of fruit

You don’t prune plums or cherries in winter, to avoid silver leaf, a fungal disease. Any pruning that needs doing is carried out in summer.

The bush is the most popular method of training, creating an open-centred tree with a clear stem of 75cm – that’s what I’m aiming for. On established trees, rub out any buds developing on the lower trunk and carefully pull off suckers.

Pruning is mostly limited to removing crossing, weak, vertical and diseased material. If the tree is still crowded, more thinning can be done in July.

Plums
Full of blossom in early April

European plums tend to have a more upright habit and form a larger tree. Fruit is borne mainly on semi-permanent spurs but also on the previous season’s growth.

Japanese plums have a more spreading habit and flower both on the previous season’s growth and on semi-permanent spurs from three-year-old wood.

Most plums are naturally goblet-shaped, so formative pruning consists of removing any inward growing branches from the centre.

Pruning after harvest consists of reducing upright growths to outward-growing laterals and reducing lateral growth to promote spur formation.