I have two american wild plum bushes in my orchard area, now 4 years old. For the first few years they did very little, and seemed to be destined as a nice little 3'-4' bush, then last year they did the year 3 "leap", and now they are 10' tall and putting out a massive amount of runners everywhere, plus fruit, which is nice.
I will be needing to thin some of the runners out. Nothing against them, I just don't need 30 wild plums in the orchard.
My question is has anyone had experience propagating wild plum from these suckers?
Are they worth digging up and transplanting?
Can I graft other plums onto them?
Wait til fall or spring dormancy or can i give it a try now?
Anything else I should know?
Certainly you can dig them and transplant them. They will take a graft just fine. Personally I would bud them instead of grafting, as it seems to have a much higher success rate with stone fruit, but grafting works too. It would probably be best not to graft/bud at the same time as transplanting as it would give them a double shock.
My grandfather use to bud the suckers/runners before transplanting, but my preference is to transplant and then bud the next summer/spring. You can bud now but the bud won't grow till spring, or you can bud in the late winter. Off the top of my head, I can't remember when it is best to graft, but I think it corresponds with when the sap starts to flow in the spring.
Transplanting is usually done in the fall or early spring. Fall is great for places with mild winters like where I live, but spring works best in many other parts of the world, especially if you have a way to water them through the first summer or two.
I guess you talk about Prunus americana, that I've never seen, but I can share what I know firsthand about the propagation of another semi-wild plum: Prunus domestica ssp. Insititia. My family has grown them in backyard gardens in the last 60 years at least.
We have a success rate of propagation from suckers that is ridicoulosly close to 100%. We transplant suckers during dormancy (late fall or beginning of spring). With late spring transplants you have at least a year of stunted growth. I would never try to transplant them during growing season, but I guess they would somewhat survive.
Trees propagated from suckers can be productive in 4 years, while trees from seed can take 7 years or more to bear a good yield.
Prunus insititia, as well as many others “wild” plums like Prunus spinosa, Prunus cerasifera, Prunus americana etc etc, are widely used in commercial fruit tree nurseries as rootstock for any cultivar of plums. Prunus insititia plums are used as rootstock for apricots as well.
Thanks for the tips.
I think I will wait until fall dormancy, I can take my time with finding places for them that way.
I will definitely attempt the bud graft method also. I'm in propagation mode right now but I will want to graft up lots of things in the coming years.
You could bud them in the summer, after the fruit is finished - so long as they are big enough. I like to wait till they are two years old, but every arborist seems to have their own style and timing. Best thing to do is to try lots of different things and find out what works best for you and your conditions.
There is a notion out there that Prunus americana (I don't know about Prunus nigra) is only graft-compatible with Japanese and hybrid plums which is just not true. They make a fine hardy rootstock for Euro plums too and a few northern nurseries use them as rootstock for Euros (Saint Lawrence for example). Anyhow, P. americana is the only rootstock I use here in Iowa. It does sucker some but is easy to propagate whether by seed, sucker or cuttings (I prefer seed for genetic diversity...but I'm an opportunist). In the past I have grafted suckers in spring, then transplanted the following spring. And though I haven't tried it in that case, I do like fall planting and find it gives things a real head start in spring as roots continue to grow long after the leaves have dropped and trees are "dormant". I would advise earlier fall planting since you're further north, maybe late September? Perhaps when leaves are starting to turn rather than after they've dropped.
Location: Zone 4 MN USA
posted 1 year ago
an update on this:
I got many, many runners this past season, I left a few larger ones in places among my orchard they fit, dug up maybe 20 and distributed them among the property. Hopefully some take as well as the parents did.
I definitely think this is good example of a potentially multi-use plant that is hardy, adaptable, and delicious.