Growing Your Own Plum Trees from Seeds

Plum tree species grown for fruit and as ornamentals are planted in zones 3 to 10 with zones 5 to 9 being optimum. Plums grow and hybridize easily, making this group of fruit trees extremely diverse and well-adapted to a variety of soils and climatic conditions. New plum trees for fruit are propagated from cuttings and disease-resistant root stock, but pits from plums also sprout and grow.


How to Sprout Plum Seeds

Plant several plum seeds at the same time because some may not sprout. Clean the seeds in fresh water and scrub away any pulp.

Pits from stone fruit, including plums, need a cold period before they will sprout, called cold stratification, a process which allows the seed to wake-up and break dormancy.

There are two ways to cold stratify plum seeds.

  • Place the seeds in moist paper towels in a plastic bag in the refrigerator at a temperature of 33º to 41º (1º to 5ºC) for 8 to 12 weeks.
  • Plant the seeds 3 inches (7.6cm) deep directly in the soil outside when average outdoor temperatures are at or below 41ºF (5ºC).

Stratifying Seeds in the Refrigerator

Check on seeds in the refrigerator every week, and keep the paper towels moist. When you see a root emerging from one end of the pit, gently remove it from the paper towels and plant it 2 inches (5cm) deep in a container filled with potting soil.

Place the container where it receives plenty of sun and keep it well watered and out of freezing conditions until the seed sprouts. Once the sapling has reached a height of about 2 feet (.6 meters), plant it into the garden in a permanent location with full sun and fertile, well-draining soil.

Stratifying Plum Pits in the Ground

When temperatures are cold, plant the seeds in a location where they will receive as much sun as possible as they germinate and sprout. Prepare the soil by digging in compost or rotted manure, but do not add other fertilizers. Make sure the soil is moist but not soggy.

Plant the seeds 3 inches (7.6cm) deep in the soil, keeping seeds about 10 inches (25cm) apart from one another. Firm the soil over the seeds and water them thoroughly. Place a piece of wire mesh over the planted area to prevent digging by squirrels or other animals. Keep soil moist.

Growing Home-Grown Plum Trees

Care for home-grown plum trees in the same way as trees purchased at a plant nursery by watering, fertilizing, and pruning regularly.

Newly planted plum trees do not produce fruit for several years, and trees grown from seed may never produce fruit or may have fruit entirely different from the parent tree.