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Gage and Plum Trees Growing Guide

Plum Tree

The plum is a very easy fruit to grow in the garden and is capable of yielding huge crops. Plums can be grown as a bush tree yet most modern crops are produced by cultivation in the central leader style. Once the main framework of the tree is established little extra pruning is required beyond removal of damaged or badly placed wood.

Pruning is best done in early summer to reduce the risk of silver leaf infection, preferably painting pruning cuts with a sealing compound.

In the early years plum trees can be encouraged to fruit heavily by the tying down of branches. A series of pegs is placed in the ground around the tree and branches are bent over past the horizontal and tied to them by a length of soft string. This interruption of the upward growth habit stresses the tree and encourages the formation of fruit buds along the bend.

Plum trees will also benefit greatly from fruit thinning, removing fruitlets to a population that is likely to be consumed. The reward will be a superb crop of much larger fruits than would otherwise have been obtained. Birds can be a serious problem with plums. Bullfinches and other members of the finch family (including sparrows) can easily strip a tree of embryo fruit buds over the winter.

 

Plum trees will also benefit greatly from fruit thinning, removing fruitlets to a population that is likely to be consumed. The reward will be a superb crop of much larger fruits than would otherwise have been obtained. Birds can be a serious problem with plums. Bullfinches and other members of the finch family (including sparrows) can easily strip a tree of embryo fruit buds over the winter. Damage can be hard to spot as only the tender heart of the bud is nipped out. Black cotton thread wrapped around the tree to form a web will deter these birds without harming them. The best way of applying this is to place a cotton reel on a slender stick, attach the end of the thread to the tree and walk around the tree a few times raising the stick and lowering as you go!

Greengages and damsons in particular are well suited to growing as a large hedge if you have the space and can form a very productive barrier and windbreak. Grow in the bush style and space at around 2.4–3m (8–10′) apart. Over a few years the trees will become intermingled.

Mirabelle, Miraclaude® and Pluot should be treated as plums and gages for growing and pruning. (view our General Fruit Tree Growing Guide here)

Gage Tree

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One thought on “Gage and Plum Trees Growing Guide”

  1. jane jones says:

    I have a damson tree which has never produced anything despite a good show of flower in the spring, some setting and then they drop off – not a single plum. It is grown in a sheltered south facing spot and produced abundance of branches and leaves and looks healthy. What can I do to encourage fruit please?

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