Hybrid plums: central leader or open center?

I have two hybrid plums which I planted this spring and have not shaped yet, Superior and Toka. I have read to do central leader with European plums and open center with Japanese plums. But what would be best for these hybrid plums? They have adequate branching for me to go either direction this spring. Thanks.

Most of the Japanese plums I’ve seen locally are very spreading. It would be difficult to grow a Central leader tree. Also
The vertical shoots tend to be extremely vigorous
and the tree would get quite tall.

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Both of these are hybrids of japanese and american plums, neither have any european plum lineage at all. Superior is somewhat odd. It has a more weepy growth habit with branches that seem to spread out on their own, at least in my experience. I have not pruned my Toka, but I can say it is a strong upright grower with a vase shape if that helps.

This article suggests a “modified leader” structure for Toka.

Hybrid Plums (Native x P. salicina) — Carrington REC.


Most Japanese plums are naturally spreading and don’t need to be shaped.


Interesting link. The superior grew like it was on anabolic steroids this year and is now over 8 feet tall. Open center might be its best option since I don’t want to use a ladder long term. The Toka growth was more moderate with more branching. Something for me to cogitate over until spring.