A damson is a small tart plum used in cooking and baking. It's heartier than a traditional plum and can be grown in most types of well-drained soils. It's great for someone getting familiar with fruit tree growing because it's self-fertile and relatively easy to grow. Here's how to care for a damson tree.
- Skill level:
Select your variety. There are European types, Japanese types and hybrid types. Ask your local garden centre for recommendations on damson trees suited for your area. Damson plum trees tend to grow too large for the average gardener, so it might be wise to select a dwarf type.
Plant two or more of each kind of damson plum tree. Even though damsons are self-fertile, your crop will be larger with a pollinator tree close by. For example, plant a European type with another European type. This way you can get the most fruit out of your trees. The best time to plant is early spring.
Apply fertiliser in late winter or, if you live in a humid region, early spring. Apply evenly over the soil covering an area slightly larger than the spread of the tree's branches.
Train your damson tree. In the first three years a damson will need major pruning. Damsons grow vigorously which makes it difficult to keep up with shaping them, but after the basic framework is in place, they require less restrictive pruning than apple trees.
Keep the soil moist by mulching your damson tree in early spring each year with straw, well-rotted garden compost or manure.
Pull out suckers as soon as they form, even from the roots. Don't cut them because this will make them increase.
Place netting over the tree to deter birds. Your damsons should ripen in late summer to autumn.