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

Wednesday - July 20, 2005

From: Georgetown, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Trees
Title: Delay in fruiting of Mexican plum (Prunus mexicana)
Answered by: Joe Marcus and Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

Dear experts, My wife and i are members of your fine organization. Several years ago we bought four things at a spring plant sale for an understory spot in our yard. The Possumhaw Holly, American Beautyberry, and Texas Redbud are doing great. So is the Mexican Plum, but it hasn't flowered or born fruit yet. The plum tree was four feet tall when we first planted it and now it is 8-10 ft and thick with branches and leaves. We have positively id-ed it in Neil Sperry's big book. It gets morning shade and some afternoon sun while it has leaves and mostly full sun in the winter. Can you help us figure out why it doesn't bear fruit?

ANSWER:

Mexican plum (Prunus mexicana) typically waits until it's pretty good sized before it begins to bear fruit. Plants are normally in one of three states at any one time: dormant, as in winter; vegetative, as when the plant is producing new growth; and reproductive, as when the plant is flowering and setting fruit. Fruit and nut trees often stay in the vegetative state for years before reaching "maturity" and beginning to reproduce.

Your plant has grown fast, which is a good indication that it has stayed vegetative. Plants often respond to stress, environmental, physical, etc., by trying to reproduce. It sounds like your plum tree has not experienced much stress and is putting all of its energy into growth. That's a good thing. Without intervention, your tree is likely to begin flowering and setting fruit in the next year or two or three.

One other possible factor is the tree's location. If it is getting too much shade, it may not flower for a while and may not flower much when it does. Nearly all fruit trees require a lot of sun to flower and set fruit. Mexican plum is no exception.
 

More Trees Questions

Will catalpa roots damage a nearby swimming pool?
July 13, 2013 - Will a catalpa tree cause problems to my swimming pool? It is 8 feet away and I cut all the branches off every fall. It then grows back to about 6 feet in diameter an makes a great garden feature but ...
view the full question and answer

Live oak trees and possible drought stress in Lott, TX.
June 11, 2011 - One of our Live Oak trees is losing leaves in only a portion of it. I have researched Oak Wilt and I am not sure that is what it has. We have trees that are hundreds of years old and was wondering i...
view the full question and answer

Problems with non-native weeping willow from Hazlet NJ
July 03, 2013 - Leaves turning yellow on weeping willow planted in May. What causes this and how can I fix it? Mother's Day gift after SANDY uprooted huge tree.
view the full question and answer

Are non-native Chinese pistache poisonous to alpacas from Galt CA
October 07, 2012 - Are Chinese Pistachio trees poisonous to alpacas?
view the full question and answer

Browning leaves on recently planted chinkapin oak in Rockwall TX
June 09, 2010 - I just planted a chinkapin oak that is about 1 1\2 inches thick last week and now some of the leaves are turning brown. Does that mean its dying? Do you have any tips that I could use to protect it?
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