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Burbank PlumPrunus salicina 'Burbank'

  • Burbank Plum - Prunus salicina
  • Burbank Plum - Prunus salicina
The Burbank plum is a Japanese plum cultivar. The branches fork frequently, spread low and wide giving a flat topped appearance, and often droop. The foliage is bright green. The white flowers have five oval petals in umbrel-like clusters of 2-3 on short spurs, and solitary or 2-3 in axils of one year old wood. They bloom early making them susceptible to late frost. Fruiting begins in 2-4 years. The skin of the plums is red-purple with a yellow blush, and the amber flesh is firm, juicy, and sweet. The fruit ripens in July to August. It is best when picked before fully ripe. Burbank plum prefers non-alkaline, sandy loam soils with good drainage. The site should be sunny and free of early frost. Rainfall and high humidity during the growing season can reduce production by accentuating diseases and cause fruit cracking. Plums require minimal pruning which should be done after flowering when the tree is still leafless. In the formative years, pruning can be to remove interior branches, water sprouts, growing scaffold branches, and dead, damaged, or diseased wood. In maturity, vigorous upright shoots are removed as fruiting increasingly occurs on spurs on older wood. Japanese plums do best when trained to an open center and need thinning for proper fruit development. (Pollinate with a different Japanese plum variety) (zones 5-9)

Hardiness Zones

The burbank plum can be expected to grow in Hardiness Zones 5–9. View Map

Tree Type

Mature Size

The standard Burbank plum grows to a height of around 35' and a spread of around 20' at maturity. The dwarf variety grows to a height of 8–10' with a spread of up to 10'.

Growth Speed Medium Growth Rate

This tree grows at a medium rate, with height increases of 13–24" per year.

Sun Preference

Full sun is the ideal condition for this tree, meaning it should get at least six hours of direct, unfiltered sunlight each day.

Soil Preference

The Burbank plum grows well in a variety of soil types and has some tolerance for heavy and waterlogged soils. It prefers a well-drained, loamy, mildly acidic to mildly alkaline soil.

Attributes

This tree:
  • Produces firm, aromatic and juicy fruit with amber yellow flesh. The sweet, uniquely flavored fruit is ideal for eating, canning, and jam making.
  • Yields ripe fruit typically around mid-July in the West and South, early August in Michigan.
  • Is best when picked before fully ripe.
  • Begins to bear crops in as little as 2–3 growing seasons, with substantial yields usually beginning in the fourth season.
  • Blooms early in the spring, profuse with delicate white flowers.
  • Requires cross-pollination with another Japanese plum variety (with a matching bloom time) growing within 100' for standard trees and within 20' for dwarf trees. Santa Rosa, Abundance and Shiro varieties are great options.
  • Requires moisture but does well where rainfall and humidity are minimal during the growing season.
  • Is available in standard and dwarf sizes. Our standard Burbank seedlings are budded to Nemaguard and Guardian peach rootstock, and our dwarf seedlings are grafted to Prunus besseyi (Sand Cherry).
  • Features ovate or elliptic leaves that are alternate and finely toothed on the margins with a bright green coloring on top and a lighter green underneath.
  • Has a chill hours (CU) requirement of 400. (Chill hours are the average hours of air temperature between 32° and 45° F in a typical winter season.)
  • Grows in an irregular shape.
  • Is susceptible to early frost.

Wildlife Value

Plum trees provide food and cover for butterfly larva, birds and mammals.

History/Lore

Plum seedlings were sent from Japan to legendary plant breeder Luther Burbank in 1885. Recognizing the superior quality, Burbank sent some of the fruit on to a Professor Van Deman, who was a pomologist for the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Van Deman recommended that the new (to the U.S.) fruit be named after Burbank, and the American Pomological Society added it to their catalog in 1897.