It’s mid-February and already trees are showing that spring is approaching. The pink flowers of the Purple Leaf Plum are a welcome sight with its profuse bloom. The flowers are usually single, meaning that they have one row of petals, and are light to medium pink.
The entire tree blooms at one time, making an eye-catching display which lasts about a week. After the petals fall, the maroon leaves open, providing a nice contrast to a green landscape.
Should you plant a Purple Leaf Plum? Maybe. These trees are fast growing and stay under 25’ tall usually, which is suitable for our smaller landscapes. And the flowers and maroon foliage are attractive. Like many fruit trees, they are relatively short-lived, 25-40 years is common. As they get older, they tend to grow too large for their structure and branches start breaking. Training your tree when it's young and pruning it will give it a longer life.
Will it fruit? Growers advertise that certain varieties (Krauter’s Vesuvius and Purple Pony for example) are fruitless. I would amend that to say, less fruitful. Our program has been giving out Purple Leaf Plum trees for over 25 years, and many of the trees do seem to start fruiting at some point. Usually though, it’s not a huge amount of fruit. But if you thought you were getting no fruit, you might be disappointed.
The Purple Leaf Plum requires moderate summer water in our California Central Valley climate.
Interested in adding a small tree to your landscape? See our recommended trees page to find the right tree for your landscape.