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Methley PlumPrunus salicina

  • Methley Plum - Prunus salicina
  • Methley Plum - Prunus salicina
A cultivar of Japanese plum, Methley is a small, upright, spreading tree. Japanese plum trees have a rougher bark and more persistant spurs than European plums. They also are more vigorous, disease resistant, and produce more flowers. They tolerate heat and need only a short period of winter dormancy. The early bloom time makes them susceptible to late spring frosts. The foliage is bright green. The white flowers are borne mostly in umbel-like clusters of 2-3 on short spurs, and solitary or 2-3 in axils of 1-yr-old wood. Blooms appear as early as February covered in snow. Fruiting begins in 2-4 years. Methley plum produces heavy, annual crops of juicy, sweet, red purple fruit that ripens from late May to early July. One crop requires several pickings. Japanese plums can be picked before they are completely ripe, since they will finish ripening off the tree. Methley is self fertile and serves as a good pollinator for early bearing Japanese varieties. Japanese and European plums cannot cross-pollinate each other, because they have different numbers of chromosomes. The growth rate is 15-20 inches per year. 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. (zones 5-9)

Hardiness Zones

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

Tree Type

Mature Size

The standard Methley plum grows to a height of around 20' 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 Methley plum grows in a wide 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.


This tree:
  • Produces medium to large, round to conical clingstone fruit with purple-red skin. The juicy red flesh has a sweet, mild flavor--ideal for fresh eating and jelly.
  • Yields ripe fruit typically from late May to early June, depending on location.
  • Bears a heavy crop each season. One crop requires several pickings.
  • Begins to bear crops in 2–4 growing seasons.
  • Blooms in early spring, profuse with clusters of sweetly fragrant, delicate white flowers.
  • Is self-fertile but should be planted in multiples to ensure a better crop.
  • Works well as a pollinator for other early bearing Japanese varieties. (Japanese plums cannot pollinate European plums.)
  • Tolerates heat well.
  • Is available in standard and dwarf sizes. Our standard Methley seedlings are budded to Nemaguard and Guardian peach rootstock, and our dwarf seedlings are grafted to Prunus besseyi (Sand Cherry).
  • Features ovate or elliptic bright green leaves that are broad and finely toothed on the margins.
  • Has a chill hours (CU) requirement of 150–250. (Chill hours are the average hours of air temperature between 32° and 45° F in a typical winter season.)
  • Grows in an irregular shape.
  • Should be staked (if dwarf variety) to ensure its ability to bear the weight of the fruit and protect against leaning.
  • Is susceptible to late spring frosts.
  • Should be thinned for proper fruit development.

Wildlife Value

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


Called Japanese plums, this species actually originated in China where it was cultivated for thousands of years. It was brought to Japan 200–400 years ago and now has spread around the world.