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I'd like to plant a plum tree (or two, if I need to have two varieties for pollination).

The goal would be to have some fruit for fresh eating, but there's only so many plums you can eat when they're in season. So I'd like to dry them so I can have some home-grown fruit out of season. I've read that there are varieties that are better for prunes (higher sugar content?) but nobody ever gives specific variety recommendations.

It gets cold here (Zone 5b, -10°F winters with lots of snow are typical), so it has to be hardy.

My questions:

  • What are good plum varieties for making prunes that are also hardy to -10°F?
  • Where can I find a reputable supplier?
  • Will my "prune tree" need a buddy for pollination?
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up vote 8 down vote accepted

Most plum trees, whether European, American or Japanese varieties, require another tree for cross-pollination within the same regional group. However, Stanley and Damson plums from Europe are self-fruitful and don't require a partner. This website gives a list of pollinator matches.

All plums are susceptible to frost as plums flower early in the year. I had a large plum tree in my parents garden in Scotland for the last 25 years or so. It was grown tied against the south facing wall of our house. It practically covers the entire south side of the building. The wall acts as a reflector of heat, ensuring the tree never gets too cold, while the south facing prospect ensures that the tree has plenty sun. Plums like to be in the sun.

I'd suggest a Damson plum for your use. They are self-fertile and make good prunes. They are also noted for making good jams and preserves - another way to keep the fruit longer.

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