American Wild Plum Tree – Learn About Growing Wild Plums

American Wild Plum Tree
wild plum
(Image credit: ClubhouseArts)

If you have ever taken a hike at the margins of woodlands, you might have seen a wild plum. The American wild plum tree (Prunus americana) grows from Massachusetts, south to Montana, the Dakotas, Utah, New Mexico, and Georgia. It is also found in southeastern Canada.

Growing wild plums is easy in North America, as they are very adapted to many types of regions.

American Wild Plum Tree

Do wild plum trees produce fruit? Nursery-bought plum trees grow from grafted rootstocks, but wild plums need no such process to produce numerous delicious fruits. Plus, wild plum tree care is effortless since the trees actually thrive on neglect.

The wild plum can be found in most cool to temperate states. It is often planted by birds who flock to the fruits when they are in season. The multi-stemmed trees grow in thickets at abandoned sites and disturbed soil areas. Trees form suckers freely and will create a large colony over time.

Trees can grow 15-25 feet ( 4.5-7.5 m.) tall. Pretty 5-petaled, white flowers form around March just before the leaves appear. Serrated, oblong leaves turn a brilliant red and gold in fall. The fruits are very small but full of flavor and make terrific preserves.

Growing Wild Plums

Wild plum grows in almost any soil provided it is freely draining, even alkaline and clay soils. The trees will even produce fruit in partially shady sites. Zones 3 to 8 are suitable for growing wild plums.

The broad crown will often lean to the side and the multiple stems can be pruned to a central leader when the plant is young. Thorny side branches can be pruned away without affecting plant health.

Wild plums have average water needs once established, but young trees should be kept moist until roots spread. If you wish to propagate the tree, it will grow from seed or cuttings. Wild plums have a short life span but are easy to grow.

Wild Plum Tree Care

Since this plant thrives on neglect, the only special care is regular water and pruning to improve the appearance.

Wild plums are susceptible to tent caterpillars, which defoliate the tree. Use sticky traps to ensnare the moths. Other possible pests are borers, aphids, and scale.

Potential diseases are plum curculio, brown rot, black knot, and leaf spot. Use fungal sprays to prevent most disease problems early in spring.

Bonnie L. Grant

Bonnie Grant is a professional landscaper with a Certification in Urban Gardening. She has been gardening and writing for 15 years. A former professional chef, she has a passion for edible landscaping.