Rent Shop Volunteer Join

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Monday - February 24, 2014

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Propagation, Trees
Title: Will hand pollination of red plum tree result in fruits?
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

Red Plum is blooming but no bees to pollinate & no associate plum trees near by. Can flowers be pollinated by hand with q-tip?

ANSWER:

First of all, I'm not sure what your "red plum" is.   There is a native Prunus nigra (Canadian plum) that has as one of its common names, "red plum".  It isn't native to Texas, however.  It grows naturally in the Northeast, the Great Lakes area and into Canada.  Another plum called "red plum" or "cherry plum" is Prunus cerasifera, an Asian native.  Then, there are the edible orchard plum trees with two main types—the European (Prunus domestica) and Japanese (Prunus salicina) with several varieties of each.  Although some of these have reddish fruit, I haven't found one called "red plum".  The reason it matters what kind of plum you have is that some plum species are self-fertile and some are not.  However, even if they are self-fertile, they will produce more fruit with the correct pollinating partner rather than by self-fertilization.  There is an interesting article, Plums on the Prairies by Rick Sawatzky at the University of Saskatchewan in Canada that says that native plums of North America are good sources of pollen for hybrid plums.  The article gives information about whether various plums are self-fertile, but I couldn't find any information about whether native plums are self-fertile.  As fascinating as all this is, since I don't really know what your plum tree is, I can't predict whether it will set fruit if you do hand pollinate it. Besides there may be insects visiting your tree that you aren't seeing and they may be bringing pollen from another plum tree that is capable of fertilizing your tree.  However, I can't see how it would do any harm to give hand pollination a try.  Instead of a Q-tip, you might try a small paint brush. This is what Gregor Mendel used to pollinate his pea plants.  Best of luck!

 

More Trees Questions

Pruning Live Oak trees to limit height.
June 08, 2015 - I notice many of my neighbors here in Katy (Fort Bend county) would have landscapers cut the lower limbs/branches of the live oak trees in their front yards, and the trees naturally keep getting talle...
view the full question and answer

Philadelphus ernestii under live oak in Pflugerville TX
April 05, 2010 - Will Philadelphus ernestii thrive in the root zone of live oak, or would the oak inhibit its growth? I'd like to plant it just at the edge of the canopy.
view the full question and answer

A tree for fall color in VA
September 05, 2011 - I need a small to medium-sized tree for enclosure/privacy screening. I'm looking for a fast-growing, deciduous tap-rooted tree for a lawn area about 30-40' away from an existing mature Linden, and ...
view the full question and answer

Rash resulting from cutting trees in NC.
May 08, 2012 - My boyfriend was cutting some trees yesterday. He had thorns in his hands after he was done, and today he has a rash on his legs, a fever and he feels like throwing up. Can you tell me if its symptoms...
view the full question and answer

Wax myrtles dying in Alexander City AL
October 26, 2010 - I have a difficult problem with my wax myrtle plants dying. I have 36 Wax Myrtle bushes, approximately 10 feet high and they are dying, one at a time. They look fine and then within a week the lea...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.