Although no type of plum tree (Prunus sp.) Is so superior to others who it could be called “best,” many outstanding plum varieties are readily available to a home orchardist. Your preference and climate for fruit color and flavor are important deciding factors in determining the best variety of plum for your home orchard. Plum trees are generally suitable for growing in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 4 or 5 through 8 or 9, depending on the cultivar.
Although all plum trees belong to the genus Prunus, two main species are suitable for development in the U.S.. These are generally called European plums (P. domestica) and Japanese plums (P. salicina). Depending upon your location, 1 type may be a better choice for you. Japanese plums tend to bloom in late winter or early spring, which makes them more prone to loss of flower buds from frost, a condition that prevents fruit collection. European plums are more immune to frost damage because they tend to bloom later in the spring, when frost risk has passed. All of plums are excellent when eaten fresh, but European kinds tend to get a higher sugar content, which makes them the ideal choice if you want to sundry fruits and vegetables keep them for long periods.
If your area isn’t subject to early spring frost, a Japanese number may be the ideal selection for you. This group has generally luscious, sweet-flavored fruit. Among the numerous outstanding cultivars, “Methley” is a self-fruitful, 10-to-20-foot tall tree that’s also a good pollinator for other Japanese trees. Its own plums have a purple peel along with juicy, sweet red flesh, and also ripen from late May into early June. “Burbank” is a cultivar that attains a height of 35 feet at maturity. It requires a different Japanese tree for pollination and has red-skinned plums with dark red flesh. Eventually, another cultivar called “Ozark Premiere” is a hybrid “Burbank” and “Methley.” It’s self-fruitful and produces particularly large, red plums with sweet yellow flesh. These three kinds are suitable for USDA zones 5 through 9.
A European sort of plum tree may be the ideal choice if your region is more prone to frost during the spring months. Among the excellent cultivars, “Stanley” is self-fruitful along with a heavy producer of oval-shaped fruits with deep purple skins along with gold flesh. Its fruit ripens in September and is freestone, with good flavor when eaten fresh, dried or canned. “Green Gage” is also self-fruitful but has greenish-yellow plums that are sweet and juicy and ripen in July. Both varieties are suited for USDA zones 5 through 9. “Seneca” plum is another good European variety with very large, sweet, dessert-type plums that are also helpful for canning. It requires pollination from another European tree and is suitable for USDA zones 4 through 9.
Hybrid trees that incorporate the attributes of the plums and apricots (P. armeniaca) may also be good choices for a home orchard. These trees are called “pluots” or “plumcots,” with the terms generally used interchangeably. Even though pluots closely resemble plums, they’re exceptionally sweet and tend to be less acidic and have finer-textured flesh than pure plums. Generally suitable for USDA plant zones 5 through 9, varieties comprise “Flavorosa,” with cherry-red flesh and skin, “Ancient Dapple,” whose fruits have green-and-red mottled skin and red flesh, and “Flavor Gold,” which produces green-skinned fruits with yellow flesh. All three varieties have fruit ready to crop between June and July.