Hog plums are so named as wild hogs seem to favor this fruit a lot. The plums are also known as flat woods plums, and their scientific name is Prunus umbellate. The tree on which the hog plums grow is a small deciduous tree that is indigenous to the South of the United States. The tree can attain a height of around 20 feet and its canopy can spread to about 20 feet. This tree makes a beautiful addition to a garden, especially during the spring, when it begins to bloom.
The flowers come out in spring before the tree gets its foliage and thereafter the flowers turn into edible fruits that attract several animals and birds. Even humans can consume hog plums and they can be used to make jellies as well as jam. So, if you are interested, read on to find out how to plant hog plums in your garden.
A hog plum tree will only thrive in USDA hardiness zone 7 to 9. The tree requires a warm climate to flourish and can be seen growing in the wild in the southern parts of Florida, Arkansas, Georgia, Mississippi, North and South Carolina, and Alabama. However, the tree does not fare well in ocean sides, as it cannot tolerate the salt spray. In the initial period, the tree tends to grow rather quickly, but this spurt slows down once the tree matures and begins producing fruit. Its canopy can grow out of control if it is not pruned and trained to create a well-groomed, decorative tree. It is perfect for spots in gardens where there is less space overhead.
Hog plums require a spot in a garden that get full sunlight. This helps the tree producing more flowers, which, in turn, means that the tree will produce more plums. Nonetheless, it is possible to grow hog plum tree in partially shaded parts of the garden.
The soil in the located should be well draining one. The tree can grow quite well in loamy, clayey and sandy soils. If your garden has sandy soil, make sure that you water the tree well every day and also provide some form of shade to the tree during the afternoon hours, when the heat is at its peak.
The hog plum tree has branches growing out of its trunk and hence, requires regular pruning. It is best to remove the branches growing close to the ground. However, if you intend using the tree as a shrub on the edges of your garden, keep these branches. They will form a new growth. Generally, hog plum trees do not have too many suckers growing from their roots, and hence, a new growth can end up forming another tree, resulting in a thicket that is thick and impassable. However, if the branches of the tree are pruned and trained, the hog plum can become a beautiful and decorative garden shrub with white or cream colored flowers in spring.
The tree will have ripe plum by early part of summer, which can be used to make delicious jelly and jam. Alternatively, you can use the fruits to attract birds and other wildlife in your garden. The fruits are typically half to one inch in diameter, purple in color and with a hard or dry outer covering. Hog plums are quite acidic and tartaric in taste, and most people do not enjoy eating them.
Where pests are concerned, hog plums are relatively pest-free and do not get diseases very easily. They can get infested by tent caterpillars, which can be removed by hand or some other organic method.
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University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences: Prunus Umbellata