How old is a plum tree before it bears fruit?

Updated February 21, 2017

A fruit tree needs to reach a level of maturity before it bears fruit. During the early years, it develops the root and stem structure necessary to produce fruit. The variety of the plum tree and the weather conditions impact the length of time between planting the tree and the first production of plums. Gardeners should monitor plum trees and trim or prune appropriately while the tree grows for it to produce fruit as soon as possible.

Standard plum trees

Standard-sized plum trees bear fruit between the third and fifth year after planting. Local climate affects the age of the tree when it will start bearing fruit. The peak fruit production typically occurs when the trees are about 10 years old

Dwarf plum trees

Dwarf trees reach maturity quicker and, therefore, produce fruit sooner. Expect a dwarf plum tree to reach all the milestones -- first fruit, optimal production and even death -- up to three years sooner than a standard-sized plum tree in the same situation.

Life expectancy

Standard plum trees usually begin to decline in production by the time they reach 20 years old. This gives the tree about a decade of optimal production of up to 176 cubic centimetres (5 bushels) of fruit per year. The tree may die at that time or it is often cut down when fruit production stops.

Planting practices

Plum trees are commonly planted from nursery stock trees of between 90 cm and 180 cm (3 and 6 feet) tall. The age, size and vigour of the nursery stock plays a part in how soon the plum tree will bear fruit. Plant a larger tree and you might see fruit sooner. Plant at least two plum trees that will bloom at the same time to provide cross-pollination. Add 225 g (1/2 pound) of 10 per cent nitrogen fertiliser to the tree each year.

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About the Author

Keith Allen, a 1979 graduate of Valley City State College, has worked at a variety of jobs including computer operator, medical clinic manager, radio talk show host and potato sorter. For over five years he has worked as a newspaper reporter and historic researcher. His works have appeared in regional newspapers in North Dakota and in "North Dakota Horizons" and "Cowboys and Indians" magazines.