Cherry Plum – Prunus cerasifera

A very special fast growing hedging plant or tree with the added bonus of tasty red or yellow fruits the size of cherries but the shape of plums (hence the name Cherry Plum) Before its leaves appear the branches are smothered in white flowers.

Description: 

A small tree or shrub of up to 8 m high, commonly used in hedges but can also be planted as an ornamental tree.

Leaves and Bark:

The leaves are 3 – 7 cm long, elliptical with a pointed tip and blunt-toothed margins. The upper side is glossy and young leaves have a hairy mid-rib on the underside.

Flowers, Seed and Fruit:

Pretty white blossom,  flowers are solitary and 2 – 2.5 cm across, they open just before or at the same time as the leaves.  The solitary fruit is round 2 – 2.5 cm across yellow or red with a slight white bloom.

Common Uses:

A pretty addition to a hedgerow, it is fast growing and produces an attractive blossom. It is a good source of nectar for bees and other insects.  The fruits can be used to make jams, wines or liqueurs (make sure to remove the pips!). it is suitable in coastal areas and does well in exposed/windy conditions.

Sometimes known as the Myrobalan Plum. This was once grown as a shelter belt for orchards and we have traced this use back to the 1700’s. Make jam, wines or even liqueurs from the fruits. Forms a very dense hedge of thorny twigs making it an extremely effective barrier.

Recommended by the RHS to be an excellent attractant and nectar source for bees and other beneficial insects.

  • Plant 18″ (45 cm) apart.
  • Ultimate height 25 feet (7.5 metres). Can be trimmed to any height above 4 feet (120 cm). Average annual growth rate 1 – 2 feet (45 – 60 cm).
  • Ultimate width 12 feet (3.5 metres). Can be trimmed to any width over 2 feet (60 cm).
  • Grows well in most soil types (including chalky and clay) except those prone to laying wet.
  • Suitable for most aspects from full sun to partial shade. Does not perform well in dense shade.
  • Suitable for coastal areas.
  • Performs well in exposed / windy positions.
  • Plant Autumn / Winter / early Spring.

On Arrival!

  • If the plants are dry stand the plants in a bucket of water for no more than half an hour.
  • Ideally they should be planted out as soon as possible; if this is not possible either ‘heel’ the plants into a shallow trench or alternatively wrap the roots back up in the bark chip and polythene they arrived in and store the plants in a cool frost free place – do not keep them in a warm place as they will start to come into growth prematurely. Check that the roots are kept moist every few days and plant out as soon as practical.
  • Before planting incorporation of organic matter such as well rotted manure (not fresh) or compost will give your plants the best start. Under no circumstances should you use any stimulants, fertiliser or bonemeal at planting time as such products will ‘burn’ any new root growth and actually slow your plants’ development!
  • Water as necessary, particularly during their first year.

After Care.

  • Keep your developing hedge free of weeds.
  • At the beginning of each spring your plants will benefit from a mulch of well-rotted manure, bark chip or something similar. This will reduce the need for weeding and help with moisture retention. At the same time you can also lightly top-dress along the row with a balanced base fertiliser.
  • Once established the hedge can be cut with conventional hedge cutters, preferably in winter before the birds start nesting!
  • Please note: leaves and seeds contain toxins making them bitter to eat, but in large quantities can be poisonous. The fruits are, of course, safe to eat (but spit the pips out!)