Contact Us Host an Event Volunteer Join

Support the plant database you love!

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

Problems with post oaks in Milam Co., TX
October 26, 2009 - I have an old ranch in Milam County, Texas on the Brazos River with several large, old Post Oaks. Recently a few of these grand old trees have lost large branches and two have died. One has died, poss...
view the full question and answer

Ground cover under trees from Austin
November 03, 2012 - I need ground cover plants that can tolerate leaf litter and grow under oak tree shade.
view the full question and answer

Native substitute for traditional Christmas tree
December 01, 2007 - Could you give some recommendations for a substitute of the traditional Christmas tree used during the holiday season? The low light/humidity conditions in the home is a challenge under any circumsta...
view the full question and answer

Native trees safe for cattle in Waller TX
October 27, 2009 - I have a ranch where the pastures have no trees. Can you recommend native species which as safe for cattle and relatively maintenance free?
view the full question and answer

Fast-growing medium-sized tree for New Jersey
July 06, 2013 - I'm looking for trees to put on a slight slope that will do well in rocky clay soil. I 'm in N.J. zone 6. The spot is full sun and would like a fast grower 50 ft high maximum. I'm replacing white p...
view the full question and answer

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