Create Your Garden

Prunus mume (Plum Blossom)

Plum blossom, Japanese apricot, Chinese plum, Japanese plum, Mei, Mume, Ume

Plum blossom, Prunus mume, Japanese Apricot, Chinese Plum, Japanese Plum,
Plum blossom, Prunus mume, Japanese Apricot, Chinese Plum, Japanese Plum,
Plum blossom, Prunus mume, Japanese Apricot, Chinese Plum, Japanese Plum,
Plum blossom, Prunus mume, Japanese Apricot, Chinese Plum, Japanese Plum,
Plum blossom, Prunus mume, Japanese Apricot, Chinese Plum, Japanese Plum,

Prunus mume is a remarkable tree that combines ornamental beauty, cultural significance, and practical uses. Its late winter to early spring blossoms provide a much-needed splash of color in the garden when most other plants are dormant, making it a cherished addition to any landscape.

Prunus mume – Plum Blossom: An In-depth Look

Prunus mume, commonly known as the Plum blossom, Japanese apricot, Chinese plum, or Japanese plum, is a species of Asian origin that has captured the hearts of gardeners and nature enthusiasts alike. Not only do people revere this ornamental tree for its beauty, but they also cherish its cultural significance, especially in Japan and China, where literature and art celebrate it.
Prunus mume belongs to the rose family, Rosaceae, which includes roses, peaches, cherries, or strawberries.

Native: Originally from China, Prunus mume has been extensively cultivated across East Asia, including Korea, Japan, and parts of Vietnam.

Plant Type and Habit: This is a deciduous tree with a rounded to spreading habit, often growing with a single trunk and a wide-reaching canopy. There are over 300 cultivars which can vary in shape from upright to weeping forms, allowing for varied design uses in both small and large gardens.

Size: The tree typically reaches heights of 15-20 feet (4.5-6 meters), with a similar spread, making it a suitable choice for small to medium-sized gardens

Flowers: The Plum blossoms are highly fragrant, appearing in late winter to early spring before the leaves emerge. The flowers can be single or double-petaled, white to dark pink, depending on the cultivar. Its flowering season is one of the earliest among ornamental trees, often starting from late January to March, signaling the imminent arrival of spring.

Plum blossom, Prunus mume, Japanese Apricot, Chinese Plum, Japanese Plum,

Fruits: Following the flowers, the tree produces small, yellow-green to yellow plums in summer that are both aromatic and sour, traditionally used in East Asian cuisine and medicine.

Foliage: The dark green leaves are simple, oval-shaped with a pointed tip, turning to shades of yellow and sometimes red in the fall.

Bark: The bark is smooth and gray, adding to the tree’s year-round interest.

Hardiness: Prunus mume is hardy in USDA zones 6-9, showcasing its adaptability to a range of temperate climates.

Uses: Primarily celebrated for its ornamental value in gardens, Prunus mume captivates with its graceful branching structure, adding architectural interest. Gardeners prize it as an excellent specimen tree and often include it in mixed borders. Beyond its ornamental appeal, people in Japan use its fruits to make umeboshi (pickled plums) and plum wine. The tree is ideal for a small garden and is also a popular subject in bonsai.

Wildlife: Prunus mume’s vibrant early blooms attract pollinators like bees, crucial for winter and early spring foraging. This is a larval host plant for the Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio glaucus), and its fruit provides food for birds, enhancing garden biodiversity. A valuable addition to wildlife gardens, it supports ecosystems when few other food sources are available.

Toxicity: As with many stone fruits, the seeds of Prunus mume contain compounds that can be toxic to cats, dogs and horses if ingested in large quantities.

Invasiveness: Prunus mume is not invasive in the regions where it is commonly grown.

Plum blossom, Prunus mume, Japanese Apricot, Chinese Plum, Japanese Plum,

How to Grow and Care for Plum Blossom

Choosing the Right Location

Climate Consideration: Prunus mume is best suited to USDA Hardiness Zones 6 through 9. In these zones, the tree can withstand the winter cold while also enjoying a long enough growing season to flower and fruit successfully. Choose a planting site that is somewhat sheltered from strong winds to protect the delicate blossoms and developing fruits.

Sunlight: Choose a location that receives full sun to partial shade, with at least 6 hours of direct sunlight daily for optimal flowering and fruiting.

Soil: Prunus mume prefers well-drained, fertile soil with a neutral to slightly acidic pH. Amend heavy clay or sandy soils with compost to improve fertility and drainage. This flowering tree is intolerant to poor or dry soils.

Watering

  • Prunus mume requires consistent moisture, especially during its establishment phase. Water deeply once a week, allowing the soil to partially dry between watering. Avoid overwatering, as it dislikes waterlogged conditions. In hot, dry spells, increase watering frequency to maintain soil moisture and support healthy growth.

Fertilization

  • Apply a balanced, slow-release fertilizer in early spring as new growth appears. Additional light feeding can be done after flowering to support fruit development, but avoid over-fertilizing which can lead to excessive foliage at the expense of flowers and fruits.

Pruning

  • This flowering tree needs minimal pruning. Prune after flowering to shape the tree, remove any dead or diseased branches, and thin out the canopy to enhance air circulation and light penetration.

General Maintenance

  • Mulching: Apply a layer of organic mulch around the base of the tree to conserve moisture, regulate soil temperature, and reduce weed competition. Keep the mulch a few inches away from the trunk to prevent moisture buildup and potential rot.
  • Overwintering: In colder regions within its hardiness zones, young trees may need protection from severe winter weather. Wrap the trunk with burlap or use a tree wrap to shield it from frost damage and sunscald.
  • Monitoring: Regularly check for signs of pests, diseases, and nutritional deficiencies.

Plum blossom, Prunus mume, Japanese Apricot, Chinese Plum, Japanese Plum,

Plum Blossom Culinary Uses

Prunus mume has a rich history of culinary uses across East Asia, particularly in China, Japan, and Korea. Its fruit is celebrated for its unique flavor profile, ranging from tart to slightly sweet.

Umeboshi (Japanese Pickled Plums): Umeboshi are salt-pickled, sun-dried ume fruits, often tinged with red shiso (perilla) leaves, which give them a distinctive red color. These pickled plums are a staple in Japanese cuisine, known for their sour and salty taste. They are commonly served as a side dish with rice, included in bento boxes, or used as a filling for onigiri (rice balls).

Umeshu (Plum Wine): Umeshu is a sweet and fragrant liqueur made by steeping unripe ume fruits in alcohol (typically shochu) and sugar. It can be enjoyed on its own, on the rocks, mixed with soda, or as part of cocktails. Umeshu is appreciated for its refreshing taste and aromatic qualities.

Ume Syrup: Ume syrup is made from the juice of ume fruits and sugar, often enhanced with honey or other sweeteners. It’s used as a flavoring for drinks, desserts, and as a natural remedy for coughs and sore throats.

Ume Jam: Similar to other fruit jams, ume jam is made by cooking down ume fruits with sugar. It’s used as a spread for bread, a topping for yogurt, and as an ingredient in various sweets.

Umeboshi Paste: This versatile paste is made from ground umeboshi. It serves as a seasoning for cooking, adding a unique acidity and saltiness to dressings, sauces, and spreads.

Korean Maesil-cha (Plum Tea): In Korea, maesil-cha is a popular traditional tea made from fermented ume fruits. It’s believed to aid digestion and boost energy levels.

Chinese Suān Méi Tāng (Sour Plum Drink): This refreshing summer drink is made from smoked ume fruits, sweetened and served chilled. It’s known for its cooling effect and is believed to help with heat relief.

Prunus mume’s culinary versatility extends beyond these traditional uses, as chefs and home cooks continue to explore new ways to incorporate this unique fruit into modern dishes. Its distinct flavor can add depth and complexity to both sweet and savory recipes, making it a valuable ingredient in the kitchen.

Plum blossom, Prunus mume, Japanese Apricot, Chinese Plum, Japanese Plum,

How to Propagate a Plum Blossom Tree

Propagating a Plum blossom tree can be a rewarding gardening project. This beautiful flowering tree can be propagated through several methods, including seed, cuttings, and grafting. Each method has its own set of steps and considerations.

Propagation by Seed

  • Collect Seeds: Harvest ripe fruits in late summer. Clean the flesh off the seeds and let them dry.
  • Stratification: Prunus mume seeds require cold stratification to break dormancy. Mix the seeds with slightly moist sand or peat moss and store them in a sealed container or plastic bag in the refrigerator for about 90 days.
  • Sowing: After stratification, sow the seeds in pots filled with well-draining soil mix. Cover the seeds with a thin layer of soil and water gently.
  • Germination: Place the pots in a warm, bright area (but not in direct sunlight). Keep the soil moist. Germination can take several weeks to a few months.
  • Transplanting: Once seedlings have developed a couple of sets of true leaves and are large enough to handle, they can be transplanted into individual pots or directly into the ground, depending on your climate and the time of year.

Propagation by Cuttings

  • Cutting Selection: In early summer, select healthy, semi-hardwood cuttings about 6-8 inches long from new growth. Make sure each cutting has at least 2-3 nodes.
  • Preparation: Dip the cut end in rooting hormone to encourage root development. Plant the cutting in a pot filled with a mix of peat and perlite or sand.
  • Rooting: Keep the soil moist and cover the pot with a plastic bag or place it in a propagator to maintain high humidity. Place the pot in indirect light.
  • Transplanting: Once roots have formed and new growth appears, usually after a few weeks to months, the cutting can be transplanted into a larger pot or directly into the garden.

Plum Blossom – Pests, Diseases, and Common Problems

Prunus mume is generally resistant to most insects and diseases.  Potential insect pests of the Plum blossom tree include:

Aphids: These small, sap-sucking insects can cause leaf curling and distortion. They excrete honeydew, leading to sooty mold. Control includes washing them off with a strong jet of water or using insecticidal soap.

Borers: Larvae that tunnel into the branches or trunk, weakening the tree. Keep trees healthy to prevent infestations. Infected limbs should be pruned and destroyed.

Scale Insects: These pests attach to branches and stems, sucking sap and weakening the tree. They can be controlled with horticultural oil or insecticidal soap.

Caterpillars: Larvae feeding on foliage, leading to significant leaf loss, and potentially defoliating and weakening plants.

Tent Caterpillars: Social caterpillars construct silk tents in trees, heavily feeding on leaves and causing defoliation.

Mites: Various mite species can infest leaves, leading to discoloration and leaf drop. Miticides and natural predators can help control mite numbers.

Diseases

Brown Rot: This fungal disease affects the fruit, causing rot and reducing yield. Fungicide treatments and removing infected material can limit its spread.

Bacterial Canker: This disease causes dark, sunken lesions on bark, oozing sap, and dieback of branches in Prunus mume. Control involves pruning infected limbs during dry weather and applying copper-based fungicides.

Honey Fungus: A deadly root rot fungus that attacks and kills tree roots, leading to wilting, yellowing leaves, and eventual tree death. Removal of affected trees and soil sterilization are recommended management practices.

Silver Leaf: Characterized by a silvery sheen on leaves, leading to branch dieback and reduced fruit yield. Infected branches should be pruned back to healthy wood in dry conditions to prevent the spread of spores.

Common Problems

Frost Damage: Late frosts can damage blossoms and young shoots, reducing fruit production. Plant in a sheltered location or use frost protection methods.

Root rot: Overwatering or poor drainage can lead to root rot. Ensure that soil is well-draining and avoid overwatering.

Nutrient Deficiency: Yellowing leaves or poor growth may indicate a lack of nutrients. Apply a balanced fertilizer according to soil test recommendations.

Plum blossom, Prunus mume, Japanese Apricot, Chinese Plum, Japanese Plum,

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Prunus mume used for?

Prunus mume, widely celebrated for its ornamental value, is also used for culinary and medicinal purposes. Its flowers enhance gardens and landscapes, while the fruit, known as Ume in Japan, is used to make umeboshi (pickled plums), plum wine (umeshu), and sauces. Medicinally, it’s used in traditional Chinese medicine to aid digestion, reduce nausea, and promote liver health.

What is the English name for Prunus mume?

The English names for Prunus mume are Plum blossom, Japanese apricot, Chinese plum, and Japanese plum.

What are the different varieties of Prunus mume?

There are numerous varieties of Prunus mume, each with distinct characteristics. Some popular ones include ‘Alba’ with white flowers, ‘Beni-chidori’ known for its deep pink blossoms, ‘Kobai’ with vivid red flowers, and ‘Shiro-kaga’ offering fragrant white blooms. Varieties also differ in fruit size, taste, and flowering time.

Is Prunus mume edible?

Yes, the fruit of Prunus mume is edible. It is often pickled, made into jams or jellies, or used to produce plum wine and vinegar. However, the raw fruit is quite sour and not typically consumed fresh.

Prunus mume Fruit or Vegetable?

Prunus mume is considered a fruit. It belongs to the Rosaceae family, which includes other stone fruits like cherries, apricots, and plums.

Prunus mume taste?

The taste of Prunus mume fruit is sour and tangy, often described as a cross between a plum and apricot but with a unique flavor profile. When pickled as umeboshi or used in culinary preparations, it imparts a distinct tartness and depth of flavor.

Requirements

Hardiness 6 - 9
Heat Zones 6 - 8
Climate Zones 3, 3A, 3B, 7, 8, 9, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 19, 20, 21, 22
Plant Type Fruits, Trees
Plant Family Rosaceae
Genus Prunus - Flowering Cherry Tree, Prunus - Fruit Tree
Exposure Full Sun, Partial Sun
Season of Interest Spring (Early)
Winter
Height 15' - 20'
(4.6m - 6.1m)
Spread 15' - 20'
(4.6m - 6.1m)
Spacing 180" - 240"
(4.6m - 6.1m)
Maintenance Low
Water Needs Average
Soil Type Chalk, Clay, Loam, Sand
Soil pH Acid, Alkaline, Neutral
Soil Drainage Moist but Well-Drained, Well-Drained
Characteristics Fragrant, Showy, Fruit & Berries
Attracts Bees, Birds
Garden Uses Beds And Borders, Small Gardens
Garden Styles City and Courtyard, Prairie and Meadow, Informal and Cottage
How Many Plants
Do I Need?
Explore Great Plant Combination Ideas
Prunus (Cherry Tree)
Not sure which Prunus (Cherry Tree) to pick?
Compare Now

Alternative Plants to Consider

Prunus x cistena (Purple-Leaf Sand Cherry)
Prunus ilicifolia (Hollyleaf Cherry)
Prunus serotina (Black Cherry)
Prunus caroliniana (Carolina Cherry Laurel)
Prunus americana (American Plum)
Prunus ‘Snow Fountains’ (Weeping Cherry)
View All Our Prunus - Flowering Cherry Tree

Recommended Companion Plants

Narcissi (Daffodils)
Crocus
Galanthus (Snowdrop)

Find In One of Our Guides or Gardens

Small Trees and Shrubs That Attract Birds
Small Trees and Shrubs That Bloom In Fall
Small Trees and Shrubs That Bloom In Winter
Roots of Life: Exploring the Diverse World of Trees
Prunus (Cherry Blossom)
Green Canopy, Better World: Exploring the Benefits of Trees
Trees that Invite Wildlife to Your Garden
35 Best Flowering Trees for a Spectacular Garden Display
Prunus pendula (Weeping Cherry Blossom)
Prunus x subhirtella (Higan Cherry)
Prunus x yedoensis (Yoshino Cherry Blossom)
Prunus serrulata (Japanese Cherry Blossom)
Prunus persica (Peach)
Native Plant Alternatives to Prunus avium (Sweet Cherry)
Shrubs and Trees with Attractive Winter Bark
Great Shrubs with Berries for Winter Interest for New England
Late Season Flowering Cherry Trees for Your Garden
Midseason Flowering Cherry Trees for Your Garden
Early Season Flowering Cherry Trees for Your Garden
Blooming Seasons of Cherry Blossom Trees
Fragrant Flowering Cherry Trees for Your Garden
Flowering Cherry Trees with Attractive Fall Colors
Favorite Weeping Cherry Blossoms for Your Garden
Which Cherry Blossom Tree for my Garden?
Pretty Cherry Blossom Trees for Your Garden
While every effort has been made to describe these plants accurately, please keep in mind that height, bloom time, and color may differ in various climates. The description of these plants has been written based on numerous outside resources.
Buy Plants

Requirements

Hardiness 6 - 9
Heat Zones 6 - 8
Climate Zones 3, 3A, 3B, 7, 8, 9, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 19, 20, 21, 22
Plant Type Fruits, Trees
Plant Family Rosaceae
Genus Prunus - Flowering Cherry Tree, Prunus - Fruit Tree
Exposure Full Sun, Partial Sun
Season of Interest Spring (Early)
Winter
Height 15' - 20'
(4.6m - 6.1m)
Spread 15' - 20'
(4.6m - 6.1m)
Spacing 180" - 240"
(4.6m - 6.1m)
Maintenance Low
Water Needs Average
Soil Type Chalk, Clay, Loam, Sand
Soil pH Acid, Alkaline, Neutral
Soil Drainage Moist but Well-Drained, Well-Drained
Characteristics Fragrant, Showy, Fruit & Berries
Attracts Bees, Birds
Garden Uses Beds And Borders, Small Gardens
Garden Styles City and Courtyard, Prairie and Meadow, Informal and Cottage
How Many Plants
Do I Need?
Explore Great Plant Combination Ideas
Prunus (Cherry Tree)
Not sure which Prunus (Cherry Tree) to pick?
Compare Now

Gardening Ideas

Plant Calculator

How many Prunus mume (Plum Blossom) do I need for my garden?

Input your garden space dimensions

Your Shopping List

Plant Quantity
Prunus mume (Plum Blossom) N/A Buy Plants

Please Login to Proceed

You Have Reached The Free Limit, Please Subscribe to Proceed

Subscribe to Gardenia

To create additional collections, you must be a paid member of Gardenia
  • Add as many plants as you wish
  • Create and save up to 25 garden collections
Become a Member

Plant Added Successfully

You have Reached Your Limit

To add more plants, you must be a paid member of our site Become a Member

Update Your Credit
Card Information

Cancel

Create a New Collection

Sign Up to Our Newsletter

    You have been subscribed successfully

    Join Gardenia.net

    Create a membership account to save your garden designs and to view them on any device.

    Becoming a contributing member of Gardenia is easy and can be done in just a few minutes. If you provide us with your name, email address and the payment of a modest $25 annual membership fee, you will become a full member, enabling you to design and save up to 25 of your garden design ideas.

    Join now and start creating your dream garden!

    Join Gardenia.net

    Create a membership account to save your garden designs and to view them on any device.

    Becoming a contributing member of Gardenia is easy and can be done in just a few minutes. If you provide us with your name, email address and the payment of a modest $25 annual membership fee, you will become a full member, enabling you to design and save up to 25 of your garden design ideas.

    Join now and start creating your dream garden!

    Find your Hardiness Zone

    Find your Heat Zone

    Find your Climate Zone