Bruce plums, or Prunus domestica, is a tough and easy-growing tree that produces delicious and juicy fruit early in the spring. It is a hybrid between the Japanese plum and the Chickasaw plum, and it was introduced to North America in 1929 by A. L. Bruce from Donnelly County, Texas.
The Bruce plum tree has deep green leaves, and the large plums grow in bunches on the tree. The fruit has bright red chalky skin with yellow and orange flesh. In the blooming season, which is during early spring, beautiful white blossoms will begin to grow on the trees. Fruit begins to bear 2 to 3 years after it has been planted.
When it reaches its full maturity, the Bruce plum tree can reach up to 12 to 15 feet tall and spread 10 to 20 feet wide. Both the standard and semi-dwarf variety is great for building an orchard or growing as a stand-alone tree.
The Bruce plum tree is best suited for USDA regions 5 through 9, and it thrives in temperate, moist regions. In addition, it is drought tolerant once it has been established.
Bruce Plum Care
Bruce plum trees are fairly low maintenance, making them great for beginner gardeners. On average, the tree should receive full and direct sunlight, or about 4 to 6 hours per day. When planting the saplings, they need to be given at least 20 feet of space between to leave room for them to grow.
Pruning for the Bruce plum tree should be done in early spring and winter before the buds break to avoid infection. When the plant is in its first two years of growth, pruning should be done to let light and air into the center of the tree as well as control its size and shape. Be sure to remove water spouts and heads, damaged or diseased branches, as well as the areas surrounding them.
The process of propagating the Bruce plum tree is similar to that of other plum trees. First, take a hardwood cutting during late autumn or winter. It is best to take from two-year-old growth, and it should be at least three-eighths-inch thick. Use shears or a sharp knife to cut through the branch without damaging the tree. Remove the leaves, dip in a rooting hormone, and place the cutting in fertile soil.
Bruce Plum Fruit and Harvesting
Bruce plums can be consumed in nearly every way imaginable. They can be sauteed, baked, boiled, canned, juiced, and much more. They make amazing plum cobblers, crumbles, jams, cakes, muffins, and sauces. When it has fully ripened, the Bruce plum can produce about one-fourth of a cup of juice.
The Bruce plum does not need to ripen on the tree and can do so on its own once it has been harvested. To do this, place them in a paper bag and close loosely. Then, leave the bag on the kitchen counter at room temperature and check it every 24 hours. Adding another fruit, such as apples, can speed the ripening process by adding more ethylene gas.
The Bruce plums are ready to harvest when they have slightly softened, and usually, they are ready to be picked in June and July. The skin will be chalky and bright red with a tart flavor, and the fruit will be juicy and sweet. To harvest the plums, twist the fruit at an angle off of the branch instead of pulling it to avoid damaging the limb. Alternatively, scissors or another sharp object can be used to cut the fruit off of the tree.
Bruce Plum Advice
The Bruce plum tree grows best in soil that is loamy, dry, and well-drained. Too much moisture in the plant, either because of overwatering or compact soil, can cause root rot and ultimately damage or kill the tree by drowning the roots. Watering should be limited to once every 10 days once it is fully matured. In its early stages and during the summer, it may need to be watered more often. The soil should be mostly dried out before you water the tree again. In harsh winters, the plant should be covered to protect it from early frost when it is young.
When choosing a fertilizer for the Bruce plum tree, make sure that it is balanced and gentle. Organic grass clippings are gentle enough to be used for young trees. A 2 to 3-inch layer of mulch is great for retaining moisture and preventing weed growth.
Bruce plum trees, like many other fruit trees, are prone to becoming damaged by pests. To prevent this, check the plant often for signs of infestation from aphids, pink maggots, and scales. If pests are present, you can buy or make a natural pesticide to help mitigate their presence and impact.
Are Bruce plum trees self-fertile?
Bruce plum trees are not self-fertile and need pollination from other plants. Therefore, another plum tree needs to be planted near it to grow them successfully. Methley, Burbank, and Santa Rosa are all great for this. Additionally, keeping bees near the trees help speed up the pollination and growth process.
What is the lifespan of the Bruce plum tree?
The Bruce plum tree usually lives for about 10 to 30 years, depending on the environment and how well it is taken care of.
Are Bruce plum trees high maintenance?
Generally, Bruce plum trees are fairly low-maintenance. They can grow in many different soil types as long as it drains well and they can reach nutrients. It also isn’t tied to its native environment, and it can grow well across nearly all of the Southern United States.
Are Bruce plums sweet?
Bruce plums are sweet, but semi-acidic as well. This makes them great for canning and for use in desserts.