Stanley Plum refuses to produce flowers or fruit

Had a friend once say the same and then at about 9 years old it buried him in plums every year! European plums like green gage are slow and even at that mine does what it wants. Japanese plums don’t have the flavor of the gage type plums and never will. My advice is be patient and you will be rewarded!


…and cause the rootstock to sucker like crazy…caution with this if you aren’t prepared for the free clonal rootstock harvest…

I’ve been giving it a good talking to - produce or you’re outta here - but it hasn’t been listening.


Somebody else suggested shocking the roots like that and I was thinking I might try it, but if I have to deal with a bunch of root suckers, I might rethink that strategy.

It does of course depend on the propensity of the specific rootstock for suckering – so don’t completely abandon the idea. It’s just my word of caution.

You know the bench bending trick but another trick you can use is to take a knife and cut all the way around a branch to girdle it and that will force it to produce. Just try one branch and I should mention I don’t like to do that with stone fruit though it’s effective. See this link Want early fruit? Do the girdle & this one How do you make those stubborn varieties produce fruit?. I see some links have expired but the ideal is cut partial slits with this type of knife which can be found at Walmart or amazon etc. in different sizes

I have commented on the slow maturation of E. plums for so often it is frustrating I’ve not penetrated the general understanding of members of this forum of what I consider the best tactic to speed maturity. Pull branches below horizontal in early spring and they will form fruit buds that season and fruit the next- especially in a tree over 4 years old. Most E. plums have a very upright growth habit that slows maturity- tell the tree what to do and festoon the branches- no need to injure the bark, although I’m sure that works as well- usually does for apples.

Castleton and Empress are two prune-plum varieties with excellent fruit and reliable productivity that have a good spreading growth habit and produce fruit relatively young without festooning. The first is mid-season and small fruited the second is late with big fruit. If anyone knows of others with similar precocity, this is a good time to post your experience.


My questions are 1) how certain are you that this is a Stanley plum? Where did you buy it from?

  1. if you are sure this is a Stanley plum, Do you have other E plum to cross pollinate it? Although Stanley plum is supposed to be self fruitful, it may take longer for it to mature enough to keep the fruit.

You described that it set fruit, grew a bit, turned yellow and dropped off sounds like a pollination issue.

I try to avoid causing unnecessary open wound on peaches or plum. Too many diseases waiting to happen through open wounds. I am not worry if it is a apple or pear.

I have trained my trees open center, vase shape, whatever it is called for several reasons, early fruit production, shorter trees,easier to spray and harvest, etc. I don’t mind having less yield on small trees.

It is not easy because most trees like to grow straight up, plums, peaches, pears. Sometimes I feel like I am losing the battle.

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My Mirabelle Parfume de Septembre, planted in the spring of 2014. Flowered and fruit profusely 3 years later in 2017.

All my three E plums, Parfume, Castleton and Coe’s Golen Drop are trained the same way, planted the same time produced the same year. All are on Marianna 2624 from Raintree Nursery.

Picture was taken this morning.


Beautiful tree. That size is my goal for my cherry and peach/plum trees.


I usually start plum trees as central leader and eventually cut out the centers long after they begin to bear fruit- with peaches I cut out the center as soon as I have well developed scaffolds, but the center gives me the ability to use branch spreaders as I develop my permanent branches. I use Treform spreaders until a tree sometimes need to be spread from too far out to use a normal sized spreader- then I use string either tied to a rock laying on the ground or tied to the base of the tree. Peaches can be dicey to leave a central trunk above scaffolds- you have to summer prune to avoid excessive shade close to the trunk on your permanent scaffolds or some varieties stop producing productive wood there.

Your tree looks beautiful, Tippy, but I prefer fewer scaffolds eventually. Extra scaffolds can be helpful though to tape uprights from scaffolds to a horizontal position to accelerate the development of secondary branches. A temporary low tier also can be used to help tie down higher branches.

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I suppose I can’t say I know for a certainty what it is, I can only go by the long lost tag that was on it when I purchased the tree several years ago. If it ever fruited then maybe I could be more certain.

By “a bit” I’ve seen ONE tiny grape-sized plum that disappeared after a couple of weeks, but this is no suprrise since I’ve never seen any more than four or five flowers a season.

It does, however, grow quite upright, long, somewhat spindly branches at that. I’ve pruned back the center but that’s about it.

I’m getting some good suggestions so far - I’ll keep working with it but it’s frustrating when everything else produces nice crops with minimal fuss. The two peach trees that I planted the same year I planted this tree have been giving me abundant crops almost from the outset - as long as I keep the squirrels away from them.

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Have you done any grafting? Grafting plum is easy. I looked up pollination partners for Stanley. It looks like gage-type plums are what you need.

You can ask for scionwood from those having gage-type plums. Graft a couple on your tree, the issue is resolved. Grafted varieties often flower inyear two.

No need to get rid of your tree.

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Thanks, Alan and @Susu. I also use a lot string and rocks. It is a constant battle as every branch wants to go up, not out.


Thought I would let everybody whose commented on this thread know that, for whatever reason, the tree exploded with flowers this spring and is now virtually covered with small fruits. This after doing nothing to it outside of giving it a good talking to. I’m anxious to see how much it produces and I’m hoping the plums are reasonably flavorful.


Plums are like cats. They are going to do their own thing regardless what we do. LOL! Most years they break your heart. But then there is that year where reward you with a crop and keep your doting affections for another few years until they decide to make again.

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My first plum trees were a stanely and multigraft asian plum from a local farm store. The asian plum flowerd and fruited in the third year. The stanley didn’t flower until the sixth year. It flowered for years without setting fruit. It finally set a heavy crop when my other euro plums bloomed for the first time. I guess “self-fertile” is a bit of an exaggeration.

My Stanley set some fruit this year . Only Euro plum that I have . Less fruit than blooms but it is a young tree .

My sucker prune plum took 9 years to start to bear.

Here’s my experience so far with European plums…
Stanley planted 4/20/2014 rootstock is peach redleaf or Marianna 1st year to bloom/maybe have plums 2018
Miller’s Big Blue planted 5/1/2012 rootstock is unknown 1st year to bloom 2016 1st year to have plums 2017
Opal planted 4/15/15 on Krymsk 1 1st year to bloom/maybe have plums 2018
Empress planted 4/9/2016 on Krymsk 1 1st year to bloom/maybe have plums 2018

Krymsk 1 is suppose to be a precocious rootstock but I don’t know if it all has to do with the rootstock. As @alan has said

I must say that his remark is verified with me as far as Empress plums go. It would appear to me as well that Opal might be as well.