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?


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


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?


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

Identification of possible Bald cypress
June 26, 2008 - I live in the Houston area, last year we traveled to South Padre Island and,on the way, I noticed a tree that was just beautiful. It looked like a cross between a Norfolk pine and some kind of cycads....
view the full question and answer

Distressed Red Oak tree in Pflugerville, TX.
July 22, 2012 - I have a large (40 ft) Red Oak tree in my yard that is distressed. It started with yellowing leaves, with darker veins. Then small brown spots appeared, followed by browning arount the leaves edges. N...
view the full question and answer

Privacy screen from Simpsonville SC
May 04, 2013 - My neighbor cut down his part of our shared woods so now we see his whole "outside patio area". What kinds of fast growing shade loving trees and shrubs can we plant on our property line that will c...
view the full question and answer

Which is best-Oklahoma Redbud or Texas Redbud in Austin?
March 25, 2010 - I live in Northwest Austin and would like to plant a small redbud tree in my front yard. My yard gets full sun. Which is better - the Texas redbud or the Oklahoma redbud?
view the full question and answer

Caring for Texas Buckeye in Buda TX
February 07, 2011 - I have a Texas Buckeye that is planted in a moderate amount of shade. It is growing very slowly, and only holds on to it's leaves from late March to August. It has been in the ground for about 4-5 ye...
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.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center