The ongoing saga of the prune on nanking cherry

I’ve posted a few times about my experiment of some years wherein I grafted a prune plum to nanking cherry rootstock. It took off and grew, but took seven years to bloom, and now, in its eighth year had only a few blossoms. The blossoms didn’t impress me and I didn’t expect any fruitset. But I was wrong- there’s two on it now. The root sucker that I planted from the same clone at the same time is behaving about the same- it’s got one plum hanging.

So for now it’s working. I’ve got a severely dwarfed prune plum producing, well, kinda, and looking healthy. We’ll see how it does in the next few years.

Kinda of a hoot in any event just have it do this well. Stay tuned.


Like the updates. Keep them coming.

Very nifty. I think I remember that nanking cherry is also compatiblr with peach, I wonder what others it could work with to provide dwarfing roots?

Jesse, I think Lucky tried this experiment and wasn’t impressed with the results, but he lives in the Southeast and I live in the Northwest, so I gave it a whirl. I don’t know whatall amongst the stone fruits can be interchanged, but I think cherries are the outliers, and there are at least maybes elsewhere.

I came across this link to a page Fowler’s Nursery provides and I think it’s at least a good starting point. Mind I’ve never had any dealings with Fowler’s and I’m not recommending them -just their webpage!

A year or two ago I budded apricot to prune plum, which I thought should work. The grafts healed over nicely and that’s all- they would not break dormancy. It might have worked on a different plum, with a different apricot, or in a different year. I don’t know how to know without trying. And that’s the case for me with all of them. Bill (Auburn) does a lot of cross-species grafting and might have better answers.

At any rate, it’s fun, creative, and educational, ay?

No better answers here on stone fruit grafts. I have been keeping up with your post and others trying to get a hold on what is compatible with stone fruit. Apples and pears are what I have my most experience with. Bill

Nanking cherry is actually more closely related to plums than to true cherries.
I have grafted peach and Japanese hybrid plums onto Nanking understock.
The peach lived for years, in my dad’s orchard at Auburn AL…never got more than about 4 ft tall… not sure it ever fruited.
The AU plums were not so dwarfed, but I lost track of them.


Whatever became of your plum graft on your Nanking? Is it still alive? Did it fruit last year?

It is alive, and healthy, but it didn’t bear last year; still, I had almost no fruit on anything last year, thanks to frosts. So it goes.

But the year before it was quite generous, and I hopeful for this year. We’ll see what the weather has to say about that!


THanks. I just planted a couple nankings today. How is your nanking itself doing? Producing well? My Romance serious cherries have been SLOW growers so I’m hoping Nanking may do better. Plus I have the option of doing a graft like you it seems!

My Nankings in Zone 7b central Georgia grew extremely fast from 1 foot high seedlings. Some fruited in their second year and most reached their full size in 3 years. They are the first thing to bloom and despite two days of temperatures with hitting 21 degrees during bloom, some of the plants have set a decent crop.

On the downside, several have gotten some bacterial or fungal disease that kills the whole plant. It may be phytophthora root rot, since I’ve got heavy soil that tends to stay wet and we had an incredibly rainy summer this past year. The symptoms just don’t match the usual cherry diseases. Another downside is the birds seem to like the fruit as much as I do.

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I haven’t grown Nankings as such much, but I do have an 18" plant that got something last year. Nankings all over were getting it, and I pruned it off. Maybe verticillium wilt? I don’t know, but I think that’s what the extension people were saying. Almost no fruit from any of them.

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Based on your post, I just looked at Cherry verticillium wilt. That might be what mine have, too. Of course, as is often the case for these soil diseases, there’s not a lot of treatment options. I’ve replaced my dead Nankings with figs because I had some extra cuttings sitting around in pots that needed planting. Looks like I might be in luck, according to figs are resistant to verticillium wilt.

I should have mentioned that, according to the county extension folks, at least, the plants will recover.

Help. I’ve a healthy Nanking that’s about 6 feet and some change now in its 4th year. Lots of leaves, absolutely no flowers whatsoever. It has in fact, NEVER flowered. I haven’t pruned or cut a single branch. I am completely bereft of what is wrong and I’m in the pits over it. No diseases, soil is properly watered and drains well despite the apocalyptic rain those of us in NW Alabama have come to enjoy. Despite the drought last summer, the rains that came nearly floating us all away (thankfully we’re at about 2,000 ft so flooding isn’t a concern) provided much needed water and literally refilled our pond. Is there a remedy to force it to flower next season?

Sorry to say I don’t know. Mine is blooming right now and is completely packed with blossoms. The blossoms themselves are just like apricot blossoms. I hope you have better luck next year!

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It may be that Nanking is just not suitable for NW AL (I’m an east-central AL native). You may not receive sufficient chill hours for yours to fruit.
That said, my impression is that Nanking is a fruit for folks in really cold zones who can’t grow a ‘good cherry’… but that’s largely based on my own experience with a bundle of row-run Nanking seedlings I purchased for a grafting experiment(peaches & plums on Nanking understock). The ungrafted Nankings are still in a nursery bed here, and do bloom - but I don’t give them any attention - the fruits were smaller than Autumn Olive berries, with just a thin rim of pulp surrounding the pit. I’m not even sure the birds bother with them. But… maybe I just got a poor strain of Nanking.
It may be time for you to ‘cut your losses’ and replace that Nanking with something that is worth the space it’s taking up. I think you can find something far better than Nanking that will produce fruit in your zone 7 location.

Quite a few Nanking cherries grow here and they always seem to have tasty fruit. It’s true they have big pits, but I pick a handful and enjoy them. They’re actually fairly fleshy and very juicy. The few in our neighborhood were leftovers from something the city garden people were doing, and I don’t know where they got them or what strain they are.

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One option is to use a plant Cytokinin hormone to induce the formation of flower buds. There several available I have to do my research again for which one and how to use.

Your lack of flowering is a mystery to me, as mine always flower from a very young age (a second year seedling flowering this year) and our weather and climate should be nearly identical. Poor fruit set this year due to a late hard freeze.

It could be a mineral deficiency, compounded by PH levels that makes it less likely for the tree to soak up nutrients.

But it could also be an a*hole tree that refuses to behave. You could use it to graft into it or just replace it.