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I live out in Magna and I was wondering if it's feasable and/or successful to attempt to grow a plum tree from a seed? When should I start?

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Sure, it's possible to grow a plum tree from a seed (pit) in Magna and any other part of Utah. Like most fruit tree seeds, plum seeds are physiologically dormant and need a period of moist chilling before they will germinate (this mimics winter - the seed waits until spring to start growing). You can either save the seed and plant it outdoors later this year, marking the spot and protecting it from squirrels or other pests. The seed will start growing next spring.
Or, you can trick the seed by putting it into a bag of moistened peat moss and then into the refrigerator (allow some aeration by opening the bag and/or changing the peat moss every week or so)for about 2 or 3 months. You'll want to plant the "tricked" seeds in pots because they may just get started growing and then be hit by a frost or freeze outdoors - not enough time to get roots going and grow strong enough to survive winter.

Many people have trees growing in their compost heaps every spring - I have a volunteer Prunus sp. in my garden where I did some trench composting. I think it's an apricot but I'm not really sure - I'm letting it grow another year and then I'll move it to a better location this winter or early next spring.

It's fun to grow trees from seed, but realize that the genetics of the seed are different from the parent tree (unless it's a self-fertile variety), so the fruit it eventually bears is different than the fruit that once surrounded that seed. But of course that's part of the fun - to see what you get!

Good gardening!

Posted on 13 Jun 2008

Maggie Wolf
Horticulture Agent, Salt Lake County

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