Explore Plants

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
    
 

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

Saturday - May 04, 2013

From: Simonton, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Transplants, Edible Plants, Trees
Title: Wild plum tree failing to bloom from Simonton TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I have a wild plum tree that has been in the ground for 3 or 4 years and it has not ever flowered. Why? I don't know what kind it is. I dug it up from a friends yard. Her wild plum trees have flowered. She lives in Jasper,TX and I live in Simonton, TX.

ANSWER:

Our Native Plant Database has Prunus americana (American plum) (also known as Wild Plum) in it, but this USDA Plant Profiles Map does not show it growing natively in Texas at all. However, it apparently does grow in both Louisiana and Arkansas, blooming in April and May and preferring moist, rich, well-drained soils. Since you and your friend both live in East Texas, it is possible this is the same tree.

The first thing to determine is what the Growing Conditions for Prunus americana (American plum) are and whether they match both planting spots.

"Growing Conditions

Water Use: Medium
Light Requirement: Sun , Part Shade , Shade
Soil Moisture: Moist
Soil pH: Circumneutral (pH 6.8-7.2)
CaCO3 Tolerance: High
Soil Description: Moist, rich, well-drained loams."

Common names (like "Wild Plum") are tricky, so we thought we would look at this another way. True plums belong to the Prunus genus, of which there are 14 native to Texas. However, of this 14, only 4 are native in or near both Jasper and Ft. Bend Counties. We will list these, with the USDA Plant Profile for each. What we are looking for is a soil or climate difference that might be causing the failure to bloom of your plant.

Prunus angustifolia (Chickasaw plum) Map blooms Feb. to May. Likes dry, loose, sandy soils

Prunus gracilis (Oklahoma plum) Map blooms March to May, dry, well-drained woodland soils

Prunus mexicana (Mexican plum) Map blooms Feb. to March, dry to moist well-drained sandy soil

Prunus umbellata (Hog plum) Map booms March and April, dry, acid-based soil.

If you have very different soils from those your friend has, and the plum tree you have does not tolerate those soils, that could be the problem.

We could not find out at what age members of the Prunus genus commonly begins to bloom. Your plant may not be old enough yet.

Finally, your tree may be suffering from transplant shock, which can occur years after the actual transplant. If it was transplanted in hot weather, kept dry and out of the ground too long, or had too many broken rootlets, any of those could be stressing the tree. And don't fertilize it. Native plants, in the right soils, ordinarily do not need fertilizer. A high nitrogen fertilizer, like grass fertilizer, will encourage green leaves and discourage flowering.

 

From the Image Gallery


American plum
Prunus americana

Chickasaw plum
Prunus angustifolia

Oklahoma plum
Prunus gracilis

Mexican plum
Prunus mexicana

More Trees Questions

Can Texas Ebony seed pods be used as mulch in Edinburg TX
May 10, 2010 - I just bought a house with two large Texas ebony trees out front. I read somewhere that the seed pods could be used as mulch? Is this true? If so, would I need to remove the seeds from the pods fir...
view the full question and answer

Replacement for maple tree lost in Hurricane Sandy from Hauppauge NY
March 17, 2013 - Lost a Maple street tree in Hurricane Sandy, was forty-eight years old. Town will not replace the tree. Must do it on my own. What would you suggest? Nothing that grows too tall.
view the full question and answer

Container plant to grow in late afternoon sun
July 02, 2011 - I have a shaded brick walkway that leads to my front door. It faces west, and can get very hot late afternoon Houston sun, although it is shaded for the remainder of the day. I have been successful ...
view the full question and answer

Small native evergreen tree for Long Island, NY
October 06, 2008 - Hi, I am looking for an evergreen tree to plant on Long Island NY. I plan on planting it in my front yard. At maturity to about 10-15ft about 5 ft wide. Not sure about soil, the area gets good AM sun ...
view the full question and answer

Growing Chilopsis in Florida
July 25, 2013 - I live in St. Johns County, FL between Jacksonville and St Augustine. I live inland, not near the beach. I bought a small desert willow plant in Victoria, TX and brought it back to FL to grow. I plan ...
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.