The best alignment for a trellis is north-south, so that both sides get good exposure to sun. Also, pruning workshops are included annually in the February/March Open House and Field Day held at Mount Vernon research station. You can also prune the central leader again at this time, or for the first time if you did not do this when the tree was a sapling. Choosing a tree on the right dwarf rootstock is important, so that the tree doesn’t outgrow its space. On the other side of Asia, the Japanese plum, Prunus salicina, was first domesticated in China thousands of years ago. Watch for excessive running sap. The image of grandpa’s prune juice has led marketers to begin calling their product “dried plums” in recent years. Special to The Seattle Times USUALLY, THE BEST time to prune fruit trees is after they have dropped their leaves and are dormant in winter. Leave only three to five scaffold branches. As the tree matures, pruning should concentrate on keeping the center open by eliminating water sprouts, sometimes called “suckers,” that grow straight up from the main limbs, and providing good spacing and access to light along each of the scaffold branches. In young trees, the leader should be headed to produce side branching at each level, until the main trunk reaches its desired height. When a tree has been left unpruned for many years, it is sometimes best to take 2–3 years to get it back in shape, rather than try to do it all at once. European types have firm-fleshed fruit that is freestone, often used for drying and canning. Pruning helps balance the top growth of your tree with the root system, giving the roots time to re-establish in your yard before spring growth. Indian Plum The Rose Family–Rosaceae Oemleria cerasiformis (Torr. Any branches that compete with the leader in vigor, or that would crowd the chosen scaffold branches, should be thinned out. Many cultures ferment the fruit into plum wine or a kind of cider, such as plum jerkum in England. If you want something a bit different, you can grow Damson and small, round “bush” plums. We normally prune during Winter. A medium-sized plum contains over 100 milligrams of potassium, which can help manage high blood pressure and reduce stroke risk. A simplified trellis system is increasingly used by commercial orchards, particularly apple growers, to maximize fruit production per unit area, and to provide better exposure to sunlight for high fruit color and quality. Although apples, pears, and cherries dominate the commercial tree fruit of Washington, the state produces the second-most plums in the nation. Writings from the ancient Middle East also talk about early cultivation of the Damson plum, Prunus insititia, in the area around Damascus. Heather Stoven and Michael R. Bush. Choose a period when there is... First and Second Year Pruning. In the United States, plum varieties that dehydrate without fermenting are called prunes. Resists brown rot and cracking. Prune two-year-old trees in fall or winter. Plum sauces match particularly well with pork or poultry. A wide selection of Victoria Plum trees offered for sale at Raintree Nursery. Areas of the tree that get little or no access to light will weaken and die, so try to make sure that all fruiting areas of the tree are pruned to let light in. A home gardener can choose from an array of plums to grow, with fruit colors ranging from “classic” purple to bright green, dark yellow, red, gold, and almost black. Training a tree that is open to the ligh… Thinning cuts are the ones you should use most of the time, because they tend to open up light channels throughout the tree. For a plum tree, a vase format is best, with a short trunk and 3-4 major branches coming off at a 45-degree angle. Pruning is done primarily in the dormant season (November 15–April 15), so when looking at a shoot or branch to decide whether to thin or not, try to picture the branch as it will be when full of leaves in the summer, and eliminate shoots that will be too closely spaced.