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Prunus salicina

Q: I would like to plant some plums in my yard but I am not sure which ones to buy.

A:  The names of all University of Florida plum cultivars begin with the prefix ‘Gulf.’ These cultivars are Japanese type plums (Prunus salicina Lindl.) and have resistance to plum leaf scald (Xylella fastidiosa) and bacterial spot (Xanthomonas campestris). Fruit size is about 1½ to 2 in. diameter and fruit quality is good. They ripen in early to late May. ‘Gulfbeauty’ was released in 1998 and patented by the University of Florida which is the tree we have in the demonstration garden in Yulee. Fruit color is dark reddish purple and the flesh is yellow with a green hue. The skin is sour, which is common in Japanese plums, but the flesh is sweet, sub-acid and firm when ripe enough to eat. The flesh clings to the stone even when soft ripe. ‘Gulfblaze’ was released and patented by the UF and provides a mid-season plum. Fruit are very firm, medium-large, round and semi-freestone which means it is a little easier to pull the flesh from the stone pit. Fruit color is dark red to purple and the flesh is orange, sweet and sub-acid.  Other plum choices are ‘Gulfrose’, ‘Gulfruby’ and ‘Gulfgold’.  Plums fruit better when planted with more than one type of tree so consider purchasing two or more different types for cross-pollination.  However, if you have a wild plum nearby, the bees will use it for cross-pollination. There are also some cultivars developed by Auburn University which would work well in our area too and those trees have Au in the front of the name, such as ‘Au-Rosa’ or ‘Au-Rubrum’.  For more complete information check out the University of Florida publication:  http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/hs250