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What's your favorite plum and why?

drew51 SE MI Z5b/6a
June 11, 2013

A lot of talk about plums recently. I thought of adding one, but man thousands of types and uses, wow, what an amazing fruit! So what do you like?

Comments (49)

  • fruitnut Z7 4500ft SW TX

    My favorite plums are all pluots, same thing only better:

    Flavor King: big, beautiful, and amazing flavor
    Flavor Supreme: A sweet/tart beauty

    Those are probably the best two. But Flavor Grenade, Honey Punch, Flavor Finale, Geo Pride, and Flavor Treat are all better than the best plum I've tried.

    There are more plums I want to try: Emerald Beaut, Inca, and Golden Nectar are in the works.

  • drew51 SE MI Z5b/6a

    Thanks for the response. The pluots seem popular. I do have a 4n1 and it has FK and FS. Once I try them, I may instead of a plum tree get more pluots. The names alone sound good! OK, maybe FG instead of a plum.
    Anybody tried Bubble Gum plum?

  • peachymomo

    My favorite plum is the Elephant Heart, they are big, juicy, deeply pigmented, and have a great flavor.

    I planted my first pluots last year so I'm hoping to get some fruits off of them this year, the one's I've had from the farmer's market were good but I know that even farmer's market stone fruits don't hold a candle to home grown.

  • drew51 SE MI Z5b/6a

    "I know that even farmer's market stone fruits don't hold a candle to home grown."

    Yeah that is part on my problem is the only pluots I have tasted were for sure under ripe. So I really can't tell taste well. They were OK under ripe and would be good even great for cooking like that, Flavor Grenade would fit in as I have 2 pluots on the 4 N 1 tree that would pollinate. Anyway Elephant Heart sounds interesting too, thanks for the response!

    Anybody have any suggestions for a good cooking plum?
    I have interest in that too. I love to cook with fruit!

  • alan haigh

    For your zone I think a great plum is Castleton. It is about the most productive plum I grow and gets very high sugar. It is also a natural semi-dwarf, even on myro, bears young, and has a great spreading habit. Great for cooking and eating out of hand and keeps in the fridge for quite a spell.

    Pluots haven't panned out for those of us in colder areas as far as productivity. You'd probably be much happier with J. plums to get similar fruit. Satsuma is just hardy enough for 6 and a great one with sweet, deep red flesh. Santa Rosa is also just barely hardy enough with amber flesh and more tartness around the skin.

  • drew51 SE MI Z5b/6a

    Excellent Harvestman, exactly the info I'm looking for. I like a challenge, but growing fruit is challenging enough. Castleton sounds great, productive, likes this area, tends to be smaller, perfect for the backyard grower!
    Thanks again, you guys have grown so much, your really saving me all kinds of time. I'm not young either, so appreciate it! I can count on these for production, and still experiment for sure, but want something reliable and good.
    It really paid off with berries, I had a lot of misses this year on new cultivars, but the steady producers have given me a large crop, well many fruits are forming. Looks to be a good year for berries. Some of the new ones look awesome too, not a total miss. And the misses I think are just bad plants. I will try again. Next year I'll have enough berries to fill a good size swimming pool!
    All my trees are young but progressing well. I look forward to adding more as soon as I can talk the wife into it! :)

  • alan haigh

    Oh, and Castleton is self-fruitful.

  • mrsg47

    Hi Drew, my two favorites are Mirabelles (two varieties) and my Italian plum. My Italian plum is finally loaded after six-seven years of waiting. Its about time to net it. I cook with all of my frruit and the italian plums are great for tarts and jam as are the Mirabelle. The Mirabelle are far sweeter however. If you like a bit of tartness the Italian prune plums are great. Mrs. G

  • drew51 SE MI Z5b/6a

    Hey MrsG47! Thanks for the input! The Italian plums grow well here, well at least the state endorses growing them! Tolerates wet springs, self fertile! Hmm, I could then grow them at my cottage! Plums are very interesting.
    Hman, self fertile, even better! Thanks everybody!

    We need a pluot with these self fertile plums in the lineage!! Something sorely lacking in pluots!
    Hman good point about pluots not being productive here. Some are, but they need to be tested more, confirmed to grow well here. The nectarine Arctic-Glo by Zaiger grows here. Adams sells it. I do have that. It is tart, which is exactly what I'm looking for for using in cooking. I still may want a sweet one too. Indian Free is also a tart peach. Both though can have high brix too. Indian Free Peach is not easy to grow here, but I want it bad enough to take a small yield.
    So far I'm impressed by the 4 N 1 pluot. it is growing well, was put in while coming out of dormancy, but since it was still freezing here, had to go back in. It handled it no problem. It came out of dormancy a 2nd time before the other 3 trees I put in in early March did! So I think it will grow OK here.

    This post was edited by Drew51 on Tue, Jun 11, 13 at 20:16

  • Tony


    The Ace of spades recommended this plum to me. I grafted this variety this year. I hope the scion wood from Ace takes.


    Here is a link that might be useful: Oullins plum

    This post was edited by tonytran on Thu, Dec 25, 14 at 21:30

  • drew51 SE MI Z5b/6a

    Wow Oullins looks and sounds very cool, cook under ripe fruit, eat fresh ripe fruit, awesome, sounds really different. Man, I need to buy property, that settles it!
    Ripens after Castleton, wow, that would work!
    Self fertile! But might do better with pollinator, first listed is Castleton! These two are meant for each other!

    This post was edited by Drew51 on Tue, Jun 11, 13 at 20:28

  • alan haigh

    I grow Oullins and it's quite a nice gage but it cracks like crazy in the rain and is the only plum I have that didn't set a single fruit this year.. Not sure if that means it's not reliable. It had a light crop last year and a heavy one the year before.

    It is very interesting looking but I hate plums that are shy to set. Italian also tends to bear light crops here.

    My favorite plum, I think, is still Valor. It always sets some fruit for me, is quite large, sweet and rich and has a very long picking season- especially when spring comes a bit late. I've had seasons where it had plums the first week in Sept until the third week of Oct. It would be a nightmare to try to grow commercially- so many pickings.

    The thing about European plums that amazes me is how variable many of them are from site to site as far as cropping. About the toughest one to crop for me is Long John. It flowers and forms a gazillion little fruitletts that mostly turn yellow and drop off the tree- except at one site that I grow it where it is actually pretty reliable.

  • MrClint

    My favorite plum is Burgundy which is very low chill, so it probably doesn't help you that much. DWN has recommendations for fruit z5-9.

  • drew51 SE MI Z5b/6a

    Thanks for the link Mrclint! I see Flavor Grenade is listed for my zone. Since I have 2 pollinators for it, it may be a good choice too, darn, lot's of good choices!
    Some low chills do OK here, like Nectaplum.

  • itheweatherman

    As fruitnut had stated, "My favorite plums are all pluots, same thing only better:"

    I agree with him, pluots are way better than plums, here are my Favorites: Dapple Dandy, Dapple fire pluot (nectarine x peach x plum), Flavor Grenade, Flavor Queen, Flavor King, Flavorosa, Flavor finale.

  • itheweatherman

    "My favorite plum is the Elephant Heart, they are big, juicy, deeply pigmented, and have a great flavor. "

    Yup, they have great flavor and way juicier than most plums.

  • treehugger101

    What about Stanley? I just bought one this year for drying/canning/fruit filling. It seems to be an "old reliable" for this area but is it any good?

  • alan haigh

    Elephant Heart is not such a cooperative plum as grown here in southeastern ny. My first tree was pretty good and grew under a lot of shade. Took 6 years to come into bearing which is extraordinary long for a Jap type.

    Somehow it bore fruit reliably for about 7 years in that shady location but then black knot became very prevalent everywhere around here and being in the shade it was hard to keep up with it in such a spot.

    However I kept it going until it died due to cold related issues and I loved its fruit so much I put it in a "better" spot with full sun. That tree is healthy and vigorous 12 years later but bears much less reliably than the one in the shade and gets a lot of pitch pockets in the fruit. I manage it in several other sites and it just hasn't performed well enough to keep it in my nursery. Satsuma is almost as good of a red fleshed plum and much, much more precocious and reliable of a cropper. Plus it doesn't seem to get pitch pockets, which are annoying hard spots in the flesh of the fruit.

    The most widely grown J. plum in our climate is Shiro. The fruit is very nice but not at all my favorite- sweet and extremely juicy, but not too interesting otherwise. However, it would be a very good base tree which you could graft other varieties on to. It bears as or more reliably than other J. plums and I still grow it in my orchard for this reason.

    I would stick with the pluots that are out of patent and get free graft wood instead of buying the trees. I don't know anyone who grows them in our area and has found them reliable croppers and I've never seen them offered at a farmers market. Even in the west they are contraversal as a commercial fruit because of productivity problems from what I've read in Good Fruit magazine.

  • Scott F Smith

    This year on my Flavor Supreme I have exactly ONE fruit on the WHOLE tree! Talk about low fruit set! Usually I get about a dozen fruits but the pollination was generally not so strong this spring on the plums. Outside of the west coast we need to be much more picky in terms of variety selection, many plum varieties are set up for failure. Satsuma is my all-around favorite, when its picked late they are wonderfully flavored and the tree is incredibly reliable and productive. They are not quite as sour as I like in a plum; Weeping Santa Rosa is probably my favorite tasting plum, its a touch better than Santa Rosa which is also excellent. WSR is reliable but not super productive for me.


  • mrsg47

    Drew, I cannot stress enough that the Italian Prune Plum takes its time for an excellent crop. In my case it has taken almost 7 years. But the tree is loaded this year, and hopefully June drop will edit some of the fruit, as the tree is heavily laden. It is a self-fertile tree and pollinates very, very well. By the third year I had 8 plums, by year five I had 24 plums and year seven I have hundreds. I'll be putting up a lot a jam this fall and making tons of tarts for friends. And. . . they taste sooooooooooo good! Mrs G

  • drew51 SE MI Z5b/6a

    Zaiger would have been better served if he worked with Euro plums. It appears the major flaw is self fertility. We could probably grow them here and actually get product!
    To me the heirlooms sounds more interesting at this point.

  • creekweb

    I have Santa Rosa, Satsuma, Flavor Grenade pluot among others but when going through my orchard choosing fruit, I find I'm most interested in harvesting plums from my Improved Duarte. Sadly, none this year on account of frost, just some Methleys and a few Shiros survived.

  • alan haigh

    Mrs. G,, it takes many years to accurately evaluate the productivity of any given European plum and one heavy crop doesn't mean a whole lot (except for the fun of one season's harvest).

    I manage Ital. plum at 4 different sites including in my own orchard and have also read that it can be a shy cropper in the northeast in Cornell recs, as I recall. At one of the sites it performs pretty well but the crops are still light compared to other plums on the property. On my own property crops have consistently been light for the last 18 years. At the other two sites it does better than mine but still is not productive enough. I no longer carry it in my nursery for this reason.

    I agree with you that it has a very pleasing quality to it, especially for cooking. It also seems to have considerable resistance to black knot and it doesn't tend to crack.

    It may continue to bear well for you- with E. plums mileage may vary wildly.

  • drew51 SE MI Z5b/6a

    MI is a top plum producer so many cultivars may do better here. We tend to be drier than many other states. Kinda ironic as we are surrounded by water! I'm about 8 miles from Lake St. Clair. We way out grow any state in tart cherries. 6th largest grower in peaches I found a commercial grower in MI that grows pluots too! In Adrian MI.

    SkowâÂÂs Berry Farm
    Rod Skow
    2578 Ogden Hwy.
    Adrian, MI 49221
    About our business: We grow many varieties including: Alderman, Au Amber, Bluebyrd, Castleton, Dapple Dandy Pluot, Early Golden, Early Magic, Early Wizzard, Elephant Heart, Empress, Flavor Grenade Pluot, Flavor Queen Pluot, Fortune, Improved Duarte, Long John, Methley, Mirabelle, Mt. Royal, Oullins, Red Heart, Satsuma, Shiro, Simka, Spring Satin Plumcot, Starking Delicious, Valor, Vanette, Victory, and Vision. We sell at farmerâÂÂs markets.

  • alan haigh

    Drew, how long have you been growing pluots and how well have they yielded? Are you keeping up with relative productivity of all the things you grow with some kind of written records? How long have you been growing pluots there?

    Long John has been one of the poorest producers in sites I've tried to grow it, but the problem could be that none of the plums around it pollinates it well. Commercial growers with a wide range of varieties may not have this problem. Long John flowers tremendously but an extremely small number of the fruitletts fill out most years.

    I have absolutely no scientific basis for compatibility being a big issue with plums but it's very strange how differently plums will perform from one site to another. At no site has Long John performed consistently but once in a blue moon I get a full crop from a tree- whether there are several other E.plum varieties around it or not.

    A commercial grower usually has a much better site for fruit than the average home grower and smaller ones usually have a wide range of varieties in a relatively small space. Their experiences with varieties are likely to be much different.

    Still, it would certainly be very helpful if you'd be more specific about how all those varieties compare in productivity as well as flavor and how long you've been evaluating them. As is, your posting seems like a broad and equal endorsement of all of them.

  • drew51 SE MI Z5b/6a

    I mentioned the commercial sight more out of I'm excited I may actually get to taste them! I plan to make a road trip to Adrian when they are ready. I just started growing one tree, and will not buy anymore till I see how the tree does. I'm more interested in adding a plum. As far as conditions I have a good spot, our microclimate is dry and I get at least 10 hours of direct sun. From sunrise to sunset in a few spots.
    As far as a broad endorsement, you are reading that into what I have said. It certainly was not meant as one.

    This post was edited by Drew51 on Thu, Jun 13, 13 at 8:25

  • mrsg47

    H-Man, many of us love growing fruit trees. Many of us will never have the experience you do, as you provide excellent information to this forum. However, many of us speak with practical application and knowledge as well, and try best to impart the knowledge we have gleaned regarding growing berries, grapes, stone and pome fruit. What drives our opinions is enthusiasm. Don't put your thumb on it and squash the enthusiam of we 'non-commercial' growers. You have the social skills of a 'black mamba'. Mrs. G

  • drew51 SE MI Z5b/6a

    MrsG, you nailed it. I have 38 years of growing experience, it has to count for something? Ok, maybe not in stone fruits, but I'm confident my trees will be very fruitful. I only have a few to concentrate all my skill and time to.
    I started with easier fruits, and I'm working my way up to the stone fruits.
    Only 4 states produce more plums than Michigan, so conditions are close to ideal here, and much better than where Scott, Fruitnut, and Havestman live.

    This post was edited by Drew51 on Thu, Jun 13, 13 at 9:09

  • bamboo_rabbit

    Plums here are easy.......mostly because you can only grow 3 or 4. It does make the decision process a lot easier.

    MrsG absolutely 100% correct.

  • alan haigh

    I'm not trying to quash enthusiasm, just trying to get facts straight. Drew, when you said you produced fruits commercially, I wasn't challenging your authority, just trying to find out more about your experience and learn from it.

    My experience is incomplete and I'm trying to learn like everyone else, but I try to state as much information and observation as I can just to throw it in the general pot.

    To suggest that you can grow pluots in Michigan better than further east is interesting, but I don't think it is humidity that is keeping us from crops. My guess is that it has more to do with temps. A consultant once suggested to me that the flowers often don't make it through winter viable, even though they open and attract bees. I've no idea if there was anything to this.

    Has MSU done any experimentation with pluots at all?

    Fruit that doesn't reliably set fruit can become very frustrating over time. One year you love it and the next you want to cut the tree down.

  • drew51 SE MI Z5b/6a

    ", when you said you produced fruits commercially"

    OK, that is funny! I do not produce fruit commercially.

    "To suggest that you can grow pluots in Michigan better than further east"

    I never said that either! The thread is on plums....
    I'm growing them for the novelty of frankenfruit. A great conversation tree. Why I want a Pluerry too. I'm sure my cherries will taste better, but it's so strange, I want it!
    As far as getting them to produce, that can be accomplished if you grow the right varieties. Only some cultivars have trouble setting, certainly not all. Obviuosly commercial growers in Michigan are producing them. If I have trouble, i'll talk to them directly for advice. I probably will talk to them anyway when i go to Adrian to buy some!!

    OK, I'm outta here, going up north to check on my cherry trees, Cornus Mas, bamboo, currants, elderberries, serviceberry trees, beech trees, and honerberries...
    See ya all next week!

    This post was edited by Drew51 on Thu, Jun 13, 13 at 11:43

  • ramble

    I like Harvestman's posts VERY much. I like his info AND his directness. I'm here to learn and do better. OTOH, I can understand some looking for a gardening club friendship thing. That's fine.

    Just pick your partners.

  • alan haigh

    Drew, sorry, I misunderstood. I thought you wrote this.

    About our business: We grow many varieties including: Alderman, Au Amber, Bluebyrd, Castleton, Dapple Dandy Pluot, Early Golden, Early Magic, Early Wizzard, Elephant Heart, Empress, Flavor Grenade Pluot, Flavor Queen Pluot, Fortune, Improved Duarte, Long John, Methley, Mirabelle, Mt. Royal, Oullins, Red Heart, Satsuma, Shiro, Simka, Spring Satin Plumcot, Starking Delicious, Valor, Vanette, Victory, and Vision. We sell at farmerâÂÂs markets.

  • drew51 SE MI Z5b/6a

    I should have quoted that better. That is from the description the commercial grower wrote. You have a valid point, they are not going to be easy to grow, and it appears this grower is the only grower I can find that is growing pluots in MI. I really do want to speak to the grower when I go there to buy some. I go by Adrian a few times a year. I'll try and make a stop when ripe.

    OK, I do have to go.....No worries, I like debating you. My only concern is some of you guys are rather negative, I sure hope I never feel that way about growing. I guess it comes from having to do it as a living. That has stopped me in so many fields. I'm a very serious amateur photographer. I have won a few contests, and many urged me to go pro, but that would take all the fun out of it. So I never did. Same with growing things, I'm good at it! I used to grow bacteria, and fungi in cultures for hospital labs, I can grow anything! I was good at isolating pathogenic bacteria, viruses and fungi, parasites too. I used to be a Medical Technologist i.e. a lab rat....
    I also worked for MSU for awhile doing research. Nobody was as good as me at growing pathogens. Sparrow Hospital employed me to try and grow the HIV virus before we knew how to grow it. Another lab beat us to it though. That was in 1981.

  • girlbug2

    I'll put a second vote in for Burgundy. It is actually semi self fruitful, but I have another plum nearby to increase pollenating. It is a rich, deep, sweet flavor though and through that I have never tasted before in other plums, and a lovely red flesh color which is unusual -- would make a beautiful jam if I ever had any left over, but we eat all of our
    s fresh.
    Admittedly, I only have a few other home-grown plums to compare it to, and of course a lifetime of disappointments from the grocery store. Nothing comes close to the flavor of those Burgundy plums!

  • alan haigh

    I am not negative at all about the rewards of growing fruit trees, I just think it is a whole lot easier if you start with the easiest ones to grow first and branch out from there. Others like to take on the biggest challenges first and work their way down.

    Whatever works.

  • RobThomas

    I can't comment on flavor yet, as I just put in my plum trees this year. I have three of the AU varieties and a Satsuma. I plan on getting some of the Byron, Ga varieites as well, definitely Ruby Queen. I suspect the AU and Byron types will grow best in my area. Taste is still TBD.

    Getting off topic, I also initially thought Drew was posting info about his nursery, so I could see Hman's mistake. I know Hman can come across as negative sometimes, but I also think it's important to know all the issues and problems with growing fruit. My mistake when I first started my home orchard was not knowing all these issues before hand. I would have done things a little differently. What I'm saying is that I appreciate all the advise we give each other on these forums - even if it's the bad stuff!

  • milehighgirl

    Just a little note about hardiness. I have an Elephant Heart and a Satsuma and they have both been winter hardy here in zone 5. I have had no dieback whatsoever on either. But like the rest of my trees the buds were killed so no harvest this year.

  • Bradybb WA-Zone8

    I think maybe we read about a certain kind of fruit,multiple times,with people raving about it.We then consider,that just about any fruit is going to take at least two years to bear.
    So with all the waiting and nurturing and protecting,why go with something else,even though another fruit may be a lot easier to grow and tastes marvelous,we may feel regret not to plant the latest and greatest thing. Brady

  • Turbogus

    Having recently reintroduced myself to eating plums as a matter of healthy snacks earlier this year I was picking up what was labeled at the Co-Op "Black Plums" these had a very tasty sweet fruit very dark (pupplish) in color. Since early this summer revisiting the Co-Op the same plums (labeled) are very yellow in color and very tart. Is it just early pickings? Time of year? or a different species mis labeled? Thanks for any info, I'm a right ignoramus on such things.

  • Turbogus

    .......I'd like to add that this particular plum had a large stone (if that's of any help). According to the Co-Op they were getting these from various California growers and I'd sure like to find them again!

  • brotherjake

    I can't make any claims as to taste yet, but I've been looking at the Opal plum and am pretty excited about what they write. It bears heavily, has better than average disease resistance, near-gage flavor (Oullins X Early Favourite), and is reportedly easy to grow. It was developed in southern Sweden and has become popular in England which means growers in humid locations may have a chance. It is self-fertile and requires good early season (June-July) heat. I have only been able to find it at Orange Pippen Trees and St Lawrence Nursery. If any one has one of these plums I would be interested in hearing your experience with it.

  • creekweb

    2018 shaping to be a crazy good year for plums. I get them so rarely due to the customary fluctuating Spring temperatures that I have mature plum trees just covered with fruit this year that have never fruited before. It'll be good to try them at long last. The weather in March and April was perfect with cold day after cold day delaying bud progression until the constant warm weather arrived late April. I've done my copper sprays already and will wait to do my curculio and fungal sprays together with the apples once they finish blooming. My Japanese are Shiro, Methley, Bruce, Primavera, Improved Duarte, Satsuma, Santa Rosa, Howard's Miracle and a few other smaller ones. My fruiting European are Empress, Coe's Golden Drop, Autumn Sweet, Pearl, something a nursery labeled as Burbank (a Japanese plum) but clearly isn't and others. Apricots and pluots looking good too.

  • Leslie Tarly Z 5a

    Hi, I'm pretty late to this party but may I suggest Black Ice? I got a good crop last year from a tree I installed in the fall of 2016 and the fruit was abundant and delicious! It is a hybrid plum and it has withstood some godawful winters. Spray for plum curilicos and japanese beetles and you cannot go wrong with this one. I also planted Long John, Schoolhouse, Mirabelle de Nancy, Italian, a Bavay greengage, Superior, Toka, Kirke's Blue and Coe's Golden Drop. Will advise if/when they made it through this preposterous winter. -50F! Good lord.

  • drew51 SE MI Z5b/6a

    Thanks for the review! I grafted this one last year I should get a few fruit this year. Nice size. Another really good one I liked was Spring Satin Plumcot, very tasty!

    many of us have been hanging at a place I can't say else they would remove it but if you like GROWING FRUIT you should combine those words and see our DOT ORGanization.

  • Holly Stockley

    Thank you for the tip, Drew. ;-) I'm a fellow Michigander, recently come into the possession of 10 acres and busily planning swaths of fruit trees and berry bushes. :-)

  • drew51 SE MI Z5b/6a

    My daughter bought a lot and is allowing me to use some of it for fruit. I don't have much room, so all my trees have numerous grafts. I have 25 varieties of plums and pluots grafted unto 8 trees, well besides 13 peaches or nectarines. I have 2 new trees to butcher and graft to this year. So I have even more scion yet to be grafted. I should get a few takes.

  • drew51 SE MI Z5b/6a

    Some photos

    I like Dapple Dandy Pluot. It's huge, tastes great, is a prolific producer you have to thin. And produces reliably year after year.


    Flavor King in the middle, Dapple Dandy on the outside. Both on the same tree.


    Both are very good. FK produces less but still decent.


    SpiceZee Nectaplum is also prolific and produces large tasty nectarines.


  • Leslie Tarly Z 5a

    frikkin huge dude!

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