How to make Santa Rose J. plum bloom?

I have a Santa Rose Japanese plum that won’t bloom. It was put into ground in 2011. The following spring it bloomed, but no more. I was told that cut a strip of bark off and reverse the direction might help it bloom. Is there any other ways not to do this and still make it bloom. I am worried kill the tree by doing that.

For Santa Rosa it should eventually bloom, just be patient and make sure you are pruning it properly. My Santa Rosa took five years before it produced. Also make sure it has enough light. The bark reversal is desperation, its what you do the year before you dig the tree up.


I’ve never seen a stone fruit tree bloom one yr and then not the next. In my case it’s usually been spring frost or mid winter cold that killed the bloom. Are you sure that’s not the case?

I don’t think reversing the bark is the right approach.

Can you go out now and see if there are flower buds? They occur as doubles on each side of a vegetative bud making a triplet on first yr wood. Flower buds also occur as clumps on fruiting spurs. The spurs are short branches off older wood.

Fruitnut, I am pretty sure it bloomed in 2012. It had small white flowers, but did not set fruit. In year 2013, and 2014, not even a single flower buds. It is in a relatively small back yard getting morning, noon, some afternoon sun, 8-10 hours a day in summer. I check the trees almost everyday, if there is any flower, I won’t miss it.

I have had Japanese plums bloom and then take a year or two off. The bloom year was basically a fluke, it was not mature but set a few anyway. It could also be related to your climate, if you are in a place with lots of clouds it still might not be getting the sun it wants. Even so, I think it will eventually start blooming. For me Santa Rosa is a light bloomer most years; its much more picky than my other Jap plums.


Here is the picture, Actually it bloomed in 2011. .

That makes more sense - it was very happy in the nursery and set those blooms the previous year, not in your yard. In your climate its going to take several years to acclimate.


Scott, it must be the case. Is it worth of keeping , I mean is the fruit quality good enough, worth the wait? I have a Superior which bloom without any problem at all.

If it isn’t blooming, it may be due to a phosphorus deficiency.
Give it some triple super phosphate, and I’ll bet you’ll see blooms
galore. Is the picture from 2011? What does it look like now?

It grows much bigger now. Last year it grown about 2-3 feet, and grow a little out of control. I need to prune it heavily when the weather is warmer. I am in Chicago. still snow on the ground and sub zero temperature here. I envy you guys having flowers in the back yard already . All I got is snow flowers (flakes)

Hang onto it and be patient! Your tree will reward you with some very juicy, rich and tasty plums in the years to come. My tree took 6 years to make plums and they were really good.

In Chicago the flower buds could have frozen last winter and this winter as well.

It’s critical if you can see flower buds now. If you can and it doesn’t flower then the buds were frozen in winter or possibly in spring. Hasn’t it been very cold up there recently? That fruit is marginal in Chicago.

All, Thanks for the help and encouragement. I am about to sing to it to make it bloom. Temperature in this year is not as bad as last year. we did have some nights dip near to -10 which I think it normal in winter here. Last year, we got closer to -20 and I still harvested few peaches. What is the lowest temperature that will kill Santa Rose’s fruit buds?

Sounds like my Beauty and Satsuma plum. Both have been in ground for 4 or 5 years and both are vigorous but flower very little. Last year the Beauty had 2 or 3 flowers total. Hoping this is the year they take off…

I’ve even gone so far as to graft multiple varieties of other plums onto them to see if different plums will fare better.

A potted tree will bloom because of root restriction and sometimes return to a juvenile state when the restriction is removed by planting in real soil. Proper pruning (no heading cuts) and pulling the branches to near horizontal will help. Pulling branches below horizontal will almost always cause flowering the following season but encourage water sprouts behind the downward slope. I use that method for very reluctant plums, mainly Euros, that have a “Peter Pan” complex.

We can’t let them be children forever.


Alan, I took your advice a few years ago on my Euros and started bending down and tying. I am finally getting buds on most of them. I tie them nearly horizontal and the following year I remove nearly all of those big waterspouts that arise and pick one or two to tie down if more are needed. It makes the pruning more like grape cane pruning than fruit trees.

I also used this on some Japanese plums that were too vigorous, they are much easier to get to settle down to fruiting than Euros. Each winter I have a ton of big waterspouts to prune off. Its like grape pruning – remove 80-90% of that wood.


Maybe this is my problem. I’m kind of an over-pruner :grin:

Does the pulling down of vertical branches work with all branches or just brand new growth?

Scott, once trees are in full productivity vegetative growth should decline, as you probably already expect.

Brown, first you pull down the main (scaffold) branches and if need be you pull down subsequent vertical side branches. so you spread whole branches not just the new growth.

Look up heading cuts- cuts to a stub or a much smaller side branch (better) tend to keep trees juvenile. Thinning cuts where you remove entire branches don’t have the same hormonal affect and sometimes help remaining branches fruit by getting more sun on spurs (small wood with fruit buds).

1 Like

If you’re in Chicago, Santa Rosa is going to be a marginal variety for you at best. SR is a warm weather plum, and I doubt very seriously, if you’ll ever have much success with it, no matter what you do. Plant something else that’s more cold tolerant.

1 Like

Thank you all again. I learnt a lot from you, I will try to put more P in the soil, and pull down the branches, Prune the waterspouts which Santa Rose got a ton! It likes to grow vertically! If I prune all waterspouts off, there would not be much new branches left! After 5 year, I really want to, at least, taste one before chop down or do something else with it.

When I buy a tree, I go by the zone listed. I assume it only tells me that it will be alive within that zone but does not mean it will fruit within that zone , correct? If so, what variety of J. plum should I plant/graft that will fruit here in Chicago?? I have Superior which has not had much problem of blooming or what ever problem.

Another question, when a plum tree decides this bud is the leaf bud and that is the flower bud? Do they start out as leaf bud and flower bud or changed into /conditioned during growing season??