Victoria plum tree (Prunus domestica)
Discover how to care for a Victoria plum tree, in our Grow Guide.
The Victoria plum, Prunus domestica 'Victoria', is Britain's best-known plum variety. It produces heavy crops of delicious, egg-shaped fruits, ideal for use in jams and chutneys, as well as eating straight from the tree.
Prunus domestica 'Victoria' tends to be grafted onto a semi-dwarfing rootstock, which produces a compact tree suitable for small- to medium-sized gardens. A Victoria plum tree will reach about 4m in height. If you want to grow it in a container, choose a dwarfing rootstock such as Pixy.
'Victoria' is a great choice for a small garden as it's self fertile, so doesn't need a pollination partner to be planted nearby. The fruits can be eaten raw or cooked, making this variety a versatile choice for home growers. Victoria plum tree blossom can be affected by early spring frosts as the tree's flowering time is from April to May. To protect a small plum tree, you could cover it with fleece. If you are planting a tree, avoid planting it in a cold spot where frosts are frequent.
The lifespan of a Victoria plum tree varies depending on rootstock and soil type, but you would expect a tree on a vigorous rootstock such as St Julien to live for around 20 years. Some may live considerably longer.
How to grow a Victoria plum tree
For the sweetest, juiciest plums, grow Prunus domestica 'Victoria' in full sun and planted into free-draining soil. Water newly planted trees regularly until established.
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Where to plant a plum tree
The best place to plant a Victoria plum tree is in a sunny, sheltered spot with free-draining soil. Ideally, plant your tree during the dormant season from November until the end of January, so it has a chance to establish a little before temperatures rise.
It can take a few years for a newly planted plum tree to produce fruit. After 2-3 years, it should produce a small crop, with a good crop possible 3-5 years after planting.
How to care for a Victoria plum tree
Water newly planted trees well during their first year. Mature trees shouldn't need watering unless there is a long, hot spell. In this situation, give them a soaking, especially in early summer when the fruits are developing.
Mulch around your plum tree in spring to conserve moisture in the soil and repress weeds. In summer, thin out fruits if there is a big crop. This will prevent branches becoming overloaded with fruit and breaking, and give the remaining fruit more room to develop.
Feed in winter with a high potassium fertiliser such as blood, fish and bone meal.
Pruning a Victoria plum tree
Unlike many other fruit trees - such as apples and pears - cherries and plums are not pruned in winter as this makes them susceptible to silver leaf disease. The best time to prune is during the summer, from mid June onwards. Young plum trees can be pruned lightly in spring.
Pruning a Victoria plum tree is not difficult: simply aim to create an open shape, getting rid of any branches that are crossing, as well as any that are dead or diseased. Prune the branches by about a third, cutting back to just above a bud. Cut sideshoots back by half.
Pests and diseases
Victoria plum trees can suffer from aphids, caterpillars, plum fruit moth and wasps. Diseases can include silver leaf disease and brown rot.
- Aphids will cause the leaves of your tree to curl and become sticky. Birds will help to keep populations down and you could also try to remove the aphids by spraying with water or by hand. For larger infestations, try applying a biological control. These have to be applied at the right time of year to be effective.
- Plum moth larvae tunnel into fruits, so remove any damaged fruit to prevent the larvae going back into the soil. Pheromone traps can help prevent this problem by trapping male moths, but often only a small amount of fruit is affected and it may not be a big problem.
- Silver leaf disease can be avoided by pruning at the right time of year. It can be confused with mildew, which causes a similar silvery effect on leaves. With silver leaf disease you will notice die-back on the main branches.
- Brown rot is a fungal disease that can spread out from a cut or puncture in the fruit, going on to infect a group of fruits if they are touching. Remove any affected fruit on the ground or hanging in the tree.
Advice on buying Victoria plum trees
- Victoria plum trees are sold on a variety of rootstocks. For a small tree that you can grow in a container or in a small garden, choose a plant on a Pixy rootstock. St Julien is a semi-vigorous rootstock – trees will grow to around 4m tall
- If you're short on space, try a fan-trained plum, which can be grown against a wall
- Always check plants for signs of damage or disease before planting