Purchasing plum trees for the first time

Newbie fruit grower here.

I’m buying plums, and I’m looking at purchasing Shiro and Starking Delicious from Stark Bros.

I’m mainly purchasing from Starkbros because they are the closest(I live in North Alabama) and I wanted to get all my trees from the same place in the same order(I’ll be ordering persimmons and peaches as well). Also, there’s free shipping for larger orders.

But as I’m reading on this forum, I hear about other varieties that sounds amazing like Beauty, and Emerald Beaut.

Would it be an issue having to ship trees cross-country from Cali. Or Washington(raintree Nursery)? Anyone have experience?

Is Emerald Beaut worth the extra hassle?


Emerald Beaut is a wonderful plum, the sweetest plum I’ve grown. I don’t know how hard it would be to grow in your area. Quit likely more difficult than plums developed for the SE.


I recommend you buy from Ison’s of Georgia. Their plums are on Citation, which is a dwarfing rootstock that induces earlier fruiting. Otherwise, plums can get too big and out of hand.

Prune the trees into the shape of an open vase or martini glass. Lets in more light and air- helps tamp down on fungal diseases.

Shiro is reliable, but I don’t care for its flavor at all, and don’t consider it worth growing. In my county, Methley is the most reliable and delicious plum.

Santa Rosa is fantastic, but highly unreliable. Weeping Santa Rosa might be more reliable.

Spring Satin plumcot does well, and tastes more like an apricot.

If I were you, and I wanted to guarantee success, then I’d start with Methley and Spring Satin, and go from there.

I’ll let others recommend what varieties do well in Alabama, if any. It’s pretty humid down there. Perhaps they can give you better advice. You might have to spray chemicals to get plums not to rot down there.

My humble recommendation: Don’t buy trees from Stark’s. They do not disclose their rootstocks, which is a disservice. (However, Stark’s deals on blueberry bushes are an excellent value).

Good luck.


Ordering bareroot stock from Raintree or the Calif nurseries is also an option. The trees are shipped when they’re dormant/asleep… so less shock to the system. Plant them immediately upon arrival.

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My suspicion is that Ison’s has the most appropriate selection of plum varieties for your area.

I haven’t had any issues with trees being shipped for California. It is usually hard to get all one wants from one place. Au Rubrum is another plum that is suppose to do well in your area and has good taste. It is a red fleshed plum. If ordering many trees another option would be Vaughn Nursery from TN. They are cheaper but do charge about $30 for shipping. I have also ordered from Legg Creek Nursery in NE Texas. Ison’s should be good also.

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North Alabama and Jemison is a long way apart but if you happen to go that way Petals From the Past has a good selection of plum trees (I would call to verify). Plums are relatively new to my orchard so I can’t suggest any from my experience. I added AU Rubrum, AU Producer, and Methley for pollen. The AU varieties are suppose to have some disease resistance. AU Rubrum is the only one that has fruited and I liked the taste. Bill


Bay Laurel Nursery has both Methley and Weeping Santa Rosa on Myro rootstock right now. That would probably work well for you.

Thanks for the info. I hadn’t heard of Ison’s, but it looks like they have great selection, and also the varieties recommended for my area.

I honestly didn’t realize that plum varieties were sensitive to the humidity(it gets incredibly humid here in the summer, you’d swear you were in Dallas).

I guess I’ll take more to heart the local guidance on plum types suitable for my area. Sometimes, it’s hard to find those varieties online, but Ison’s seems to have a few.

Looks like Morris, Mayripe, Shirley, AU Rosa, AU Rubrum and Crimson are the recommended varieties for my area.

Anyone have experience with these? Or know which two are the tastiest?

Even here in the Northeast, the humidity in summer can make growing plums a major challenge, but it can be done.

Sounds like @Auburn Bill says AU-Rubrum is a winner.

Au Rubrum has the reputation of being the best tasting of the Au varieties. I have 2 but they have not produced yet. Morris is another variety red flesh variety that is suppose to have a good taste. Shirley is a yellow flesh that is said to have excellent quality.
The Au Rubrum has grown well and seems to have good disease resistance. I think the best root stock for you would be Myro. It has good disease resistance.

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Awesome, thank you all!
Sounds like AU Rubrum is going on the list for sure

Ison “SALE20” for 20% off your order.

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I would agree that Shiro is not worth growing, at least not her in mo. Not much flavor. Spring satin does very well its early and if you wait till fully ripened, they are very good

I read that Au series of plums don’t have enough disease resistance to make up for the lack of taste. Those who have grown these, do you find that to be true?

Really smart to run with local information, but nurseries usually don’t do a good job of clearly rating the fruit quality. Smart to get the opinions of hobby growers in a similar climate that have experience with many varieties. Nurserymen don’t like to call any of their children ugly, experienced home growers don’t have the same investment and tend to remove the varieties they don’t like.

If you have limited space, you can choose with the idea of grafting different varieties onto a tree later, even if it sounds like a daunting task to a beginner, it really isn’t very hard when you have the guidance of other members here. I’m at the point where I think Shiro is an excellent plum- to use as a multi-variety graft tree. It is mediocre compared to other J. plums, but when compared to store bought it is quite delicious and it has the perfect form (nice spreading branch growth) and high vigor to make a good frame for a variety of plums.

But I’m in a much different location- my point is only that the taste of the plum is only part of the story- some are easier to manage than others, some are less susceptible to late frost damage as well. Here, Shiro is the most reliably cropping J. plum I’ve ever grown. Where you are it might be Methely or one of the new Au varieties.

Again from what I have heard, AU Rubrum was the best tasting of the AU series. Wish I had actual fruit from mine, maybe this year.

OK, I live in South Georgia, near Savannah, and have found it very hard to keep plum trees alive for more than a couple of years apart from Chickasaw plum varieties and Mariana which is a root stock typically used for European plums that does have good but small fruit. I have not found the Au series plums or the Byron series plums to do any better than the traditional dissert plums from California with the exception of Robusto which I got from Just Fruits and Exotics in South Florida. If you were going to try an grow plums further south in Alabama I would be saying get Guthrie, Robusto, Excelsior and a few other mostly Chickasaw varieties that should do OK. Down here I think lots can be said for trying to get trees on their own roots. Most Asian and commercially available Chickasaw plums are on peach roots. That’s to avoid suckering as much as anything else. But in a climate where stem canker is a big problem, suckering is good. You have a constant supply of baby tries that you can start somewhere else should the big tree get sick. In addition, peach trees only live about ten years where as a plum tree that avoids disease lives 20 to 30 years on its own root. Grafting a plum onto a peach root guarantees that the tree will fall about 20 years short of its lifespan potential. God bless.



I’m in SC and I’ve grown just about all of the AU varieties and Rubrum
is the best one, by far, and the only one that I would recommend. The rest are
mediocre at best. I’d also recommend Santa Rosa, as it does well in the South and will cross pollinate with Rubrum, and you’ll get tremendous fruit set from both trees. Cumberland Valley and Vaughn’s sell both trees far cheaper than anyone else, and you’ll get reliable and healthy stock from both nurseries.
Plums vary widely in taste, and you need to decide what your taste preferences are, before you buy anything. Do not buy Methley, because it does not do well in the South. Here, it’s considered to be a junk plum.
This is a picture of my Santa Rosa from a few years back.



Wow, Ray. I would kill for my Santa Rosa tree to be loaded with fruit like that. It is harder to get Santa Rosa to cooperate up here, but the taste is fantastic.

Funny that Methley is a dog down there. Up here it is delicious. Location really matters.