Weeping Santa Rosa Plum

Bumble Bee on Santa Rosa Plum flowerHi friends! Today I thought I would highlight one of my backyard orchard fruit trees… my Weeping Santa Rosa Plum. Of all my fruit trees, this one stands out from the rest not only because of its stately manner but for its beautiful weeping structure. In full bloom, the tree looks like it’s covered in a soft blanket of pure white snow. The tree also lights up in early summer with luscious burgundy color as the fruit begins to ripen. Fruit ripens on the tree at different times displaying a gorgeous contrast of colors which is especially eye-pleasing.

In the Beginning

I’ve mentioned this story before, so I’ll just highlight a couple of important events.  One was the fact that we joined up with an organic gardening group just weeks prior to our first bareroot fruit tree pre-order.  And two, joining the group and the events that quickly followed catapulted our long-time orchard dream into reality.

The first meeting we attended was actually a presentation about growing fruit trees in our area by horticulturalist Bob Morris, who at the time headed up the UNCE Test Orchard project in North Las Vegas. At this presentation, a list of recommended fruit trees was provided and reviewed in great detail. It was also mentioned that the group was putting together a bulk fruit tree order that would come directly from Dave Wilson Nursery in California. The best source for quality fruit tree stock. The timing and valuable information couldn’t have been more perfect. God’s divine inspiration. That’s the moment we knew our orchard was meant to be.

Upon receiving our order, we were quite fortunate to acquire the most beautiful plum specimen for planting in our long awaited orchard. Our baby Weeping Santa Rosa Plum stood about 6 feet high with about a 1-1/2-inch to 2-inch diameter trunk. Lower down the trunk was a bit thicker. The tree also had a handful of arching branches coming straight off the top.

I have to admit that we were a little intimidated by the tree at first.  It was so different from all the other trees and it obviously would require a much different approach to the initial cut at planting. This initial heading cut is especially important for those planning to keep their fruit trees ladderless (i.e., low enough to gather fruit by hand without using a ladder).Weeping Santa Rosa PlumWhen planting our other baby fruit trees, we lopped off their tops leaving the trees at a height of about 36” high or so. Keep in mind that if we had purchased a regular Santa Rosa Plum we would have made the initial cut in the same manner. But, when it came to our Weeping Santa Rosa Plum we were very hesitant in doing this. Especially since we had very little to no instruction or information on how to approach that first cut on this type of fruit tree. So to be safe, we left the tree pretty much as is and removed only a few small branches coming off the center of the tree, which were sticking straight out at eye level and a potential “eye-poke” hazard.

As I stand here today three years later, gazing upon my beautiful Weeping Santa Rosa Plum and its beautiful long weeping branches, I’m so glad we decided to keep the original height and had sense enough to leave those baby arching branches in place to grow. Today, the branches have plenty of room to weep downward toward the soil’s surface and is the perfect tree for Pinny to shade herself while I’m tending to the orchard.

Weeping Santa Rosa PlumWithin a few short weeks after planting, the new leaves appeared followed by a small handful of flower buds shortly thereafter. At bloom, we received a very nice preview of snow white plum flowers that we would definitely admire more of in the very near future. Weeping Santa Rosa PlumWith consistent regular watering, no additional pruning, and two applications of the John & Bob’s suite of products that first year, our Weeping Santa Rosa Plum was definitely on its way to being the healthy beautiful fruit tree it is today 🙂Weeping Santa Rosa Plum

2nd Year

During the second year, my fruit orchard was kind of on its own with minimal attention due to my health issues. In January that year, just before the onset of my illness, hubby and I were able to attend several extremely informative pruning demonstrations by horticulturalist Bob Morris at the UNCE Test Orchard in North Las Vegas. Then, just a few short days after pruning and white washing all of my own fruit trees, I became critically ill.

For the next year-and-a-half, my physical activity was extremely impaired and hubby had his hands full taking care of me and the household. During this time, I mustered up the energy to take notes of important events in our orchard, take a number of photos and write a small handful of blog posts. I think doing these few tasks gave me a wee bit of normalcy in my life. A really good thing.

As for maintenance that year, it was pretty basic… regular watering (using a hose), one application of iron (EDDHA) and two applications of the John & Bob’s products. Thinning the fruit and harvesting was very minimal since our fruit trees were still small.

By the end of the second year, with just the basic care, my young spindly Weeping Santa Rosa Plum emerged into a gorgeous statuesque tree with a trunk that nearly tripled in size.

All of our fruit trees were champs that year and weathered our medical storm (so to speak) with flying colors! A testament to their health and our loving dedication.

3rd Year

Our Weeping Santa Rosa Plum’s (and orchard’s) third birthday. While tending to my pruning and white washing tasks this past February, we had a decision to make regarding our plum tree. Early last year, I noticed a few “wild hairs” (branches) growing straight up at the top of my plum tree. With everything going on that year we just left it alone.

By the beginning of this year, those upward growing branches had grown a lot and turned out to be really nice potential producers with small fruiting spurs all up and down the branches. Something I definitely wanted to preserve.

Weeping Santa Rosa Plum

Weeping Santa Rosa PlumSo, rather than prune these branch beauties off, we decided to reel them in by carefully tying parachute rope onto the branches and staking it down securely into the ground. This has really helped to maintain the tree’s shape very nicely.

Fruit Tree Tie DownFruit Tree Tie DownWeeping Santa Rosa PlumWeeping Santa Rosa PlumYummy Plums!

I really cannot say enough nice things about this tree and its fruit. Besides being super sweet and delicious, the color of the fruit is just stunning.

Weeping Santa Rosa PlumWhen considering the Weeping Santa Rosa Plum or the standard Santa Rosa Plum tree, keep in mind that these plums have fruit spurs. These spurs are the points at which the flower blossoms will appear and then the fruit. For the most part, these spurs will last the life of the tree producing fruit year after year. Because of this fact, every effort should be taken to protect them from being damaged or worse yet, removed! Once a fruit spur is removed, it will never grow back. Ever. This is the reason I take it upon myself to do the bulk of the harvesting. Don’t get me wrong… hubby does a fine job harvesting, too, but is usually pretty busy working on other tasks in the garden or around the house and will help out when there’s a large haul. It’s more a rule for when others come to visit our property, especially during harvest time. No unsupervised picking of fruit on this tree please 😀

Weeping Santa Rosa PlumMind you, these spurs can take quite a bit of beating and will eventually cover the branches from top to bottom with their beautiful presence. Personally, I’m just a little over protective of my trees.  Okay, maybe super over protective.

Plum fruit spurFor those faint of heart, know this. You will have some spur loss over the life of the tree and in most cases, it will be by your hand! It’s inevitable and so easy to do, especially while harvesting deep inside the interior of the tree. Either a shirt sleeve will get caught or a pant leg and as you pull away you take out one or two fruit spurs. Or as you’re picking fruit, you sort of pick off the fruit along with the spur and leaves. Ooops. Been there done that. Just don’t sweat it. It happens to the best of us.

Weeping Santa Rosa Plum

Pests

The Weeping Santa Rosa Plum and plums in general, typically do not have a lot of pest problems, but they can be vulnerable to wood borers. So keep a watchful eye on main scaffolds, the trunk and the crotch areas.

Plum fruit can also be a target for thrip damage. To date, I’ve only seen some slight damage, not much, unlike my nectarine which gets lots of thrip damage each year. Thrips love nectarines! I’m not sure if they’ll go after my Nectaplum fruit, which is a cross between a nectarine and a plum. Only time will tell.

To date, our biggest “plum” threat has been from birds. The plum tree comes in second for the most bird damage. As soon as the fruit starts to change from green to burgundy, the birds start-a-peckin’ and it only gets worse as the color deepens. With our fruit orchard in full production this year, we’ve seen a lot more bird damage on all of our fruit tree’s fruit, but the bird’s favorites are still our fig and our plum. It’s just something about these fruits they just love.

Weeping Santa Rosa PlumTo help keep the bird damage down to a minimum, we starting installing our bird netting frame. I’ve never seen more frustrated birds in my life. Several birds, mostly finches and mocking birds, will gather at the top of the frame making their disapproval known to all who will listen.  They’ll test the netting in several places before giving up and flying away. It’s especially entertaining for us and an easy target for Pinny to bark at and shoo them away. Pinny agrees!Weeping Santa Rosa PlumWell, I’m sure I can go on and on about my wonderfully productive plum tree, but I’ll spare you the “my child does this or that stories”. So, before you go, I’ll share with you a few photos of the interior of the tree and provide a few quick stats.

Weeping Santa Rosa PlumWeeping Santa Rosa PlumWeeping Santa Rosa PlumWeeping Santa Rosa Plum

Quick Stats

Harvest Stat

Chart_Harvest_2014_Plum

Weeping Santa Rosa Plum Stats

Chart_SantaRosaPlum_Stats

Weeping Santa Rosa Plum

Until we chat again!

God Bless,

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12 Comments

Filed under Fruit Trees/Orchard

12 responses to “Weeping Santa Rosa Plum

  1. Genevieve

    When I was little, my grandma had the best, sweet, flavorful, juicy plums! They were purple, but nearly black, and had a red flesh interior. The tree was taller than her house. When I asked my aunts about it, I was told it was told it was a Weeping Santa Rosa Plum. But when I look online, I see discrepancies… Some are red, not purple, some have light colored flesh, and some are shorter. Do you have any suggestions on how to ensure I get the “right” one?

    • Hi Genevieve. Thx for stopping by. I recommend you buy your tree from a reputable grower. I buy the bulk of my bare root fruit trees from Bay Laurel Nursery online.

      My Weeping Santa Rosa fruit us different colors at different stages if development. Early on the fruit is quite red. As it matures, the fruit takes on more of a reddish purple, the when mature it almost looks black it’s so dark. It’s one of the beauties if this variety. So pretty to see the variations in color.

      Someday, I would love to buy another Weeping Santa Rosa and let it get much larger. Makes an excellent shade tree with benefits!!!! Your grandma’s tree sounds like it was lovely and productive 😊

  2. Jim and Cheryl Green

    Thank you for the great article. We live in the Antelope Valley and planted a bare-root dwarf weeping plum in mid-March. My question is, about what date does your tree bloom? We’re beginning to worry a bit, as the buds don’t seem to be fattening as I expected. Hope we end up with a beauty like yours.

    • You’re very welcome. That’s wonderful you planted the Weeping Santa Rosa. The fruit is divine.

      To answer your question, my Weeping Santa Rosa plum bloomed in early March and already has fruitlets about a quarter-size. Keep in mind that my tree is also four years old and very well established. Since your fruit tree was just planted in mid-March, I would not expect to see too many blooms, if any, and little to no fruit. If it does fruit, technically you’re supposed to remove all of the fruit the first year so the tree focuses on growing. But, I’ve been known to leave 1 or 2 fruit on just out of curiosity. At this stage, I would be concerned if the tree failed to leaf out. That’s happened to me a few times and can be frustrating, especially with all of the work put into planting. It happens. When your tree leafs out, you’ll know that its roots are taking well to its new home.

  3. Rick Prehoda

    What a great article on growing the Weeping Santa Rosa Plum! I saved this srticle in my favorites! A couple of weeks ago, I purchased the last bit of bare root stock 15 trees in all) at the Torrance Home Depot and within this last batch of sad and unwanted bare root fruit trees at half price were three Weeping Santa Rosa Plums! Even though they were bagged as Ultra Dwarf they appeared to be much taller and looked much stronger with the curved top branches. Needless to say, those three were the first to go in the ground and felt the need to give them more room than the other Ultra Dwarft trees. The representative in outside garden was quick to mention to me that I needed at least 400 freezing hours or the trees will not produce. I told him that I live in the high desert in the Silver Lakes community of Helendale and anything of 500 hours or less should do just fine. It is a real pleasure to read such a fine article and look forward to experiencing similar results with my Weeping Santa Rosa Plums! Thank you!

    • Thank you 😀 My Weeping Santa Rosa Plum is one of my favs. Sounds like you scored with your fruit tree purchase.

      My plum takes up the 10′ space I’ve designated, plus a bit more so that’s good that you gave it more space at planting. Re: required chill hours ~ Most knowledgeable nurseries state about 200-400 chill hours for the Weeping Santa Rosa Plum. Every year, my plum tree receives enough chill hours in the winter to give me truckloads of fruit… even this past warm winter. Your plums will do just fine where you are ~ nothing to fret about. So relax and enjoy your Weeping Santa Rosa’s!

  4. You are the perfect person to blog April, such clear and exact details! Very awesome. I will be sure to continue to read your blog and check back on growing specifics when we get some place to grow food. I heard about your blog through John Kohler’s video he did on a visit to your garden. Thanks for posting 🙂

    • Hi Katrina,
      Such a nice compliment… thank you 😀 I hope you subscribe and continue to read my blog. I have lots of great info and goodies in store (i.e., printable journal pages, orchard task calendar and veggie garden quick reference guides along with a plant library and orchard series). I love sharing my knowledge and experience with others with the hope that they will be inspired to grow their own nutritious food. Even if you just start out with a single tomato plant in a pot on a patio or balcony, that’s one big plus for your health. Thank you for checking out my blog.

  5. It is a beautiful tree.

  6. Lois

    Your Weeping Santa Rosa Plum is a beautiful tree. You have done a great job.

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