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Does a Plum Tree Need Full Sun?

Most varieties of plum trees need full sun to produce a big harvest. Plant your plum trees in a spot that gets at least 6 hours of direct sunlight per day. Plum trees will grow in indirect sunlight but may not produce as much fruit. Only certain types of plums, like Czar, will tolerate the shade. Poor fruit production, brown rot, and insect infestations can all occur when the trees do not get enough sun. Plum trees cannot get too much sun. They even thrive in desert conditions.

Ripe fruits of plum tree on a branch with leaves in the garden.

How Many Hours of Sun Does a Plum Tree Need?

Plum trees need at least 6 hours of full, direct sunlight each day. Start giving your trees full sun at the germination stage. Leave them in their nursery pots for 1–2 years while keeping them in direct sunlight. Transplant your trees into a planting hole in an area of the yard that gets bright, direct sunlight for most of the day.

  • Plum trees thrive when given at least 6 hours of sunlight daily.
  • Full sun conditions should be provided beginning at the seed germination stage.
  • Keep your trees in their original pots for 1–2 years.
  • Transplant the trees in a bright, sunny area in your yard.
  • Expect fruit to set by the time your plum tree reaches 6 years of age.

Depending on the plum variety, the tree will set fruit by its sixth year of growth. The full sun conditions will help maximize fruit production. The tree must also get adequate water and protection from insects and common plum tree diseases. Otherwise, its health will decline and reduce the harvest size and plum fruit quality.

Can a Plum Tree Grow in Indirect Sunlight?

Plum trees will grow in indirect sunlight. Most varieties will not set as much fruit as they would in full, direct sunlight. The tree will likely focus more on vegetative growth (leaves and branches). By doing that, the tree has a better chance at gathering the sunlight it needs to survive.

  • Plum trees will grow in indirect sunlight.
  • If your plum trees are grown in shade, they will not produce as much fruit as they would in full sun.
  • Leafy growth will become the plum tree’s main focus if it is grown in indirect light.
  • Overcrowding can result in plum trees focusing on vegetative growth.
  • Always space your trees 12–20 feet (3.5–6 meters) apart to keep them from fighting for resources.

Overcrowding can also cause plum trees to grow green, leafy growth instead of fruit. To avoid this, plant plum trees 12–20 feet apart (3.5–6 meters). That might seem like a lot at first. But as the trees grow, they won’t crowd each other out and fight for sunlight, nutrients, and proper air circulation.

Can You Grow a Plum Tree in Shade?

Most plum trees do not thrive in the shade. They will usually get stuck in the vegetative growth cycle. They will grow leaves and branches, but will not blossom. This causes them to fail to bear fruit on a regular basis. If they do produce fruit, you will get very few fresh plums each year, and they won’t be edible.

  • The majority of plum trees will not thrive in shady conditions.
  • The trees will focus on vegetative growth instead of setting fruit.
  • You will likely end up with minimal to no edible fruit as a result.
  • Czar plums are an exception to this rule—they do okay when given morning sun only.
  • Offspring of Czar plums, like Edda and Herman, also work well in shade.

The Czar plums are the main exception. These plums do fairly well when just given morning sun. They will still produce even in the absence of afternoon sun. You could also try plums with Czar parentage, like Herman and Edda.

What Happens If a Plum Tree Doesn’t Get Enough Sun?

Without enough sun, plum trees do not set very much fruit. Their fruit may suffer from brown rot and other fungal diseases, too. Insect damage becomes a problem as the low light conditions leave the tree unhealthy.

  • Plum trees will not produce much fruit if they do not get enough sunlight.
  • The fruit that does grow may suffer from a common disease like brown rot.
  • Insect infestations may attack an undersunned plum tree.
  • Transplanting your plum tree might solve the problem but you must be careful.
  • Only transplant plum trees during the winter months and take great care to help the roots adjust.

If it’s not getting enough sun, you can try to transplant your tree to a sunnier spot in the yard. Only attempt transplanting in cold temperatures during winter months to avoid shocking the roots. Carefully dig up as much of the roots as possible. Dig out a large hot and fill in the roots with soil from its original location. Add mulch around the base of the tree. Soak the roots once per day for 2 weeks to help your plum tree adjust to its new spot.

Can a Plum Tree Get Too Much Sun?

Plum trees thrive in bright, sunny conditions. So, it’s pretty much impossible for them to get too much sun. Many plum trees even do great in hot, dry desert conditions. The only major problem with growing plum trees in hot areas is the lack of enough chilling hours.

  • Plum trees cannot get too much sun because they love bright, sunny conditions.
  • Most plum trees can even withstand hot, dry desert conditions.
  • The lack of chill hours in hot regions can leave your plum trees without fruit, however.
  • Plum trees need to get a certain number of chilling hours to set their buds.
  • In hot growing regions, choose Gulf trees to ensure you get a harvest of plums.

Plum trees must receive enough chilling hours during cold weather to set buds for the next growing season. If they don’t, they won’t grow ripe fruit to pick that year. Selecting your plum tree varieties carefully ensures they will thrive in your climate. In hot areas, try Gulf plum trees, which only need 150 chill hours each winter.

How Much Sun Should Plum Trees Get?

Plum trees need at least 6 hours of bright, direct sunlight daily to thrive. The more sun, the more fruit you get, after all. Indirect sunlight can work but will reduce your fruit tree’s yield. Plum trees do not like to grow in full shade.

  • Plum trees benefit from getting 6 or more hours of direct sunlight each day.
  • Daily exposure to bright sunshine increases fruit production.
  • Indirect sunlight reduces plum yields, while shade makes the trees sickly.
  • Plum trees cannot get too much sun and even thrive in desert conditions.
  • Chilling hours are a must to ensure the plums can set buds each year.

Shady conditions can wreak havoc on the health of most plum trees. Low-quality fruit, brown rot, and insect infestations can all occur when growing plums in the shade. Plum trees cannot get too much sun. But they do need a certain amount of chill time each cold winter to set buds for the next growing season.

Plant your plum trees in the right location and you’ll get rewarded with up to 20 years of sweet, juicy fruit. Just don’t be afraid to transplant your trees if the location doesn’t get enough sun. They won’t stay healthy and produce good fruit anyway. So, you really cannot lose by trying to move them.

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