En EspaŅol

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
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
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

Living fence of native plants for Ojai, CA
September 20, 2008 - I would like to build a "green fence" about 10-15 feet tall. I live in Ojai, CA where we have VERY hot summers and it goes below freezing every winter. The soil does not seem to drain well..it is e...
view the full question and answer

What is the growth rate of the table mountain pine in zone 6 & 7?
July 14, 2009 - How fast growing is the table mountain pine in Zones 6 and 7 in the Appalachians? What is the growth rate?
view the full question and answer

Xeriscaping in clay on a slope in Fort Worth
April 06, 2006 - Xeriscaping in clay (Fort Worth) on a slope -- Please offer suggestions and publications. Thanks
view the full question and answer

Tree options for patio in Sun City West, Arizona.
January 07, 2011 - We have an area near our cement patio in Sun City West AZ where we would like to plant a shade tree. We planted a sissoo tree, but were told that the roots will damage the patio because of the proximi...
view the full question and answer

Nut tree for Florida
October 09, 2008 - Hi! I would like to plant a nut tree in Orlando, FL. What would you recommend?
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP | STAFF
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center