Plum Rootstock Question

I desire to plant a plumb tree this year that I can graft onto later. I am in Northern Illinois and last year it got down to minus 30 degrees. I am overwhelmed with European versus Japanese varieties. Can some one orient me where to start? And maybe where I can source like two trees? Thanks in advance.

I’d recommend American plum for everything except European plums. Some European plums will be completely fine on Prunus americana (American plum) - while others will have rejections at the graft site / at the graft union. I’d steer you toward peach tree for your Euro plum grafts. You could always do your Asian plums on peach, also, & w/o graft rejection. And, you should be able to find a grafted peach tree at some store, whether a gas station, Walmart/home improvement, Tractor Supply or similar, for 15-20 bucks that you could graft on right away or wait. You’d have a ton of power from the roots if you did so that way.



I haven’t played with plums much, but I’ve seen a lot of people like St. Julien and Krymsk1 for this area. It kind of depends on what your objective is though. Are you looking for a standard sized fruit tree that gives some shade? Or do you care more about early fruit production on a smaller tree? Is your concern mostly about cold hardiness?

Just gotta say ( I mean ) the whole deal is pruning. Rootstock isn’t all that important.

I grafted / planted an area of pears and persimmons. I will prune them funky with a single leader and cool shapes that produce a lot of spurs.


The whole idea of everything gardening is to find the best roots for your soil type and then what’s above is hopefully “a suit” to your climate, as-well. Otherwise… you’re going to be doing a lot of spraying.

Probably near 15-years ago my brain came up with my own rationing for how to choose plants for here and I simply state it as: “comparing climates.” I compare the climate of the species I want to introduce to that of my own. That includes understanding my clay soil even during 2-3 month droughts is moist under the cracking surface. You consider how warm/cool in the summer you want to introduce to your climate came from; everything (or as much as you want to / care to learn about it… and then piece it all together and decide what’s going to happen. Will the conifer I chose get fungal diseases from my humidy / will the stone fruit I want to plant get fungal diseases from my humid climate ? ? Think about it all. Again though and again, it all begins with the roots. Will the roots tolerate/like/hate my soil… and then you go from there… is there enough rain? Will it like my rainfall? And you continue if those questions passed and go onto more challenging information until you’ve made up your mind what I’m going to do.


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Thanks for all the information everybody. I had in mind a tree I can prune without using a ladder, that won’t be winterkilled, and will bear fruit. What can I graft onto the American Plum?

I decided to go with Prunus Americana. I bought two trees I found on Etsy. It looks like it can well handle winter temperatures for me, and is potentially compatible with both European and Japanese plum varieties.

St Julien is not very tolerant of heavy soils, I tried several times in my clay soil, they grow well for a few years then die when it gets wet.


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