Hi 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).When 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.
Within 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. With 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 🙂
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.
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.
So, 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.
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.
When 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 😀
Mind 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.
For 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.
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.
To 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!Well, 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 Plum Stats
Until we chat again!