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Into a Plum Tree a Plum Pit Grows

A recent question brought back memories of when I wondered the same thing. The question was whether a plum tree could be grown from the pit inside of a store-bought plum. The answer isn’t limited to plum trees but is also true of most stone fruits; plums, cherries, apricots, etc. The answer is simply, “Yes, you can, with enough time and effort.”

Focusing on plums, most of the plums that are commercially grown are either hybrids or are from trees that have been grafted. That is, one kind of plum tree is grafted onto another kind of plum tree. 

In either case, the plums normally don’t breed true. That means that trees grown from the pits will usually not be like those of the tree the plum came from. In some cases, the pits may be sterile and in most cases, the resultant fruit won’t be like the original plums and might not even be edible. 

Assuming that a person wants to take their chances, the method is pretty simple, though quite time-consuming. First, the pits need to be washed using water and a brush, to remove any fruit that is clinging to the fruit. Bits of fruit that are left behind can mold, which isn’t good for the developing seedling.

Next, the pit needs to be stratified. This is a process of chilling the seed for a time. In the wild, plums that fall to the ground grow into new trees only after they’ve been subjected to freezing temperatures over the winter. To do it at home usually requires wrapping the pit in a damp, not wet, paper towel, placing this into a zip-lock bag, and putting it in the refrigerator for two and a half to three months.

At this point, the pit can be planted into a location that has preferably already been prepared for it. If conditions are good and if the spot gets plenty of sunshine and water, the tree can then grow. In an ideal situation, the tree should bear fruit in 7-10 years, though in the case of some hybrid or grafted trees, the resulting tree may never bear fruit.

One part of the problem is the effort and time involved in growing a plum tree from a pit that came from a plum sold at the store. The other part of the problem is that most stores won’t have any idea if the plum came from a hybrid or grafted tree. The growers usually know this, but it isn’t something that distributors are interested in so by the time the plums get to the store, the store might know where the plum came from and they probably know exactly what kind of plum it is (even though they are normally sold as either red plums or purple plums or yellow plums), but they don’t know if the tree was a hybrid or grafted one. 

Hence, if a person wants to grow a plum tree, it is actually far simpler and cheaper, in the long run, to buy a plum tree sapling from a plant nursery. Most local nurseries even know which types of trees are apt to grow well in that general area, which is a definite plus.

The bottom line is that it normally isn’t worth it to try to grow a plum tree from a plum pit.

  • Have you ever wondered about growing trees from the pits of fruit?

    • Yes
    • No
    • I don’t like plums
    • I don’t live in a place where I could grow a plum tree
  • Did you realize that it takes this much effort and time to grow a plum tree from a pit?

    • Yes
    • No
    • I suspected that it might
    • I’ve never considered growing a plum tree

What do you think?

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Written by Rex Trulove

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