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How Do I Plant Plum Seeds?

Gardeners who plant plum seeds may be treated to bowls of fruit in a few years.
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  • Written By: Cynde Gregory
  • Edited By: PJP Schroeder
  • Last Modified Date: 19 October 2014
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It is easy to plant plum seeds if a few essentials are observed. The seed must be cleaned and placed in a cold environment to break it out of its period of dormancy; once it’s ready, it needs to go into loose, loamy soil at the proper depth in a location that gets a good amount of sunlight. Some plum trees are self-pollinating and can be planted alone; others require the company of other trees in order to set fruit.

Gardeners who decide to plant plum seeds will end up with bowls spilling with luscious plums within just a few years. They might be thrilled, especially if the fruit tastes exactly like that long-ago plum from which the seed first came. On the other hand, they might be frustrated if their homegrown fruit isn’t as succulent as what they remember. The second scenario is actually more likely because many commercially produced plums are grown on trees that have been grafted onto rootstock.

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Arborists graft a flavorful fruit onto rootstock in order to create trees that will produce fruit in half the time. Rootstock is typically sturdy as well, resulting in trees that can stand up to weather and pests. For the home gardener who wants to plant plum seeds from a piece of purchased fruit, it’s important to understand that the resulting fruit won’t be true to type. It might taste as good, or even better, but it might also lack the sweetness or texture that was expected.

With that caveat in mind, to plant plum seeds costs almost nothing. As the seeds will readily sprout once they’ve broken out of dormancy, there’s really no reason not to give it a try. Planting a plum tree from a seed is not only a fun task for adults, but children can also learn about life cycles, pests, and plant needs while developing a sense of connection with another living thing. Whether the fruit that results is delicious or not, the simple act of planting and growing can offer many teachable moments.

The first step is to help the seed break out of dormancy by tucking it into the refrigerator bagged with a damp medium, such as vermiculate, sand, or peat moss, for up to two months. As soon as it shows signs of growth, it needs to go into the ground into soil enriched with compost, manure, or other soil conditioner. You should keep in mind that plums, like other trees, like rich soil and will not do well in ground that is primarily clay or sand.

The seed should be tucked about 4 inches (about 10 cm) into the ground. If it isn’t planted this deep, it will be less likely to grow deep roots. If the seed is planted too deep, it won’t grow either. The ground beneath the seed should be loosened and well conditioned to a depth of at least a foot (about 30 cm). You’re almost done; just remember to water the seed every day for the first week or so and watch it after it begins to sprout to make sure it isn’t suffering from drought.

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