A cultivar of the Japanese plum, the Methley plum tree is a small, upright, spreading tree. Japanese plum trees have a rougher bark and more persistent spurs than European plums. They also are more vigorous and disease-resistant, and they produce more flowers. This tree is self-fertile and serves as a good pollinator for early-bearing Japanese varieties. Japanese and European plums cannot cross-pollinate each other. They grow about 40 to 50 centimetres a year.
This tree produces medium to large, round to conical clingstone fruit with a beautiful purple-red skin. The juicy red flesh has a sweet, mild flavour that is perfect to enjoy fresh or cooked into a jelly.
They tolerate heat and need only a short period of winter dormancy. The early bloom time makes them susceptible to late spring frosts. The foliage is bright green and the white flowers are in umbel-like clusters of 2 or 3 on short spurs.
Position – This tree tolerates heat well and does best in full sun. Although it is self-fertile, it’s best to plant it in multiples to ensure a better crop.
Size – At maturity, the Methley plum tree has a height and canopy spread of up to 6 metres.
Soil Type – The Methley plum grows in a wide variety of soil types and has some tolerance for heavy and waterlogged soils. It prefers a well-drained, loamy,mildly acidic soil.
Watering – During their growing seasons (spring to autumn), the soil around the root zone must be kept moist. During the winter, when they go dormant, they require less watering.
Mulch – To retain the moisture in the soil and to add to its nutrients, mulch well around your Methley plum tree. Use bark, wood chips, straw or old leaves as mulch, but remember to keep it about 20 centimetres away from the tree trunk to prevent the stem from rotting or getting infected.
Pruning – Plums require minimal pruning, which should be done after flowering when the tree still has no leaves. In the formative years, remove the interior branches, water sprouts, growing scaffold branches, and dead, damaged, or diseased wood. Once it is mature, remove any vigorous upright shoots because fruiting occurs on spurs on older wood. Japanese plums do best when trained to an open centre, so they need thinning out for proper fruit development.
Harvesting – Fruiting begins when the tree is 2 to 4 years old. These trees produce heavy crops of juicy, fruit every year. You’ll need to pick them several times every season. They can be picked before they’re completely ripe, as they’ll ripen off the tree.