BELLE DE LOUVAIN PLUM TREE
By David Marks
Belle de Louvain is a cooking plum with a dry flesh which won’t make the pastry of your plum pies and tarts soggy. It also cooks to a delicious tasting jam which has an attractive dark colour. Other plus points include its ability to grow in cold and windy conditions (as well as other conditions)where other varieties would fail. Its disease resistance is good. It does take a year or two longer than average to begin cropping but this gives branches time to strengthen up.
PARENTAGE OF BELLE DE LOUVAIN ON PLUM TREES
The parents of Belle de Louvain are not known. It was first mentioned in 1845 when it was identified in the plum tree collection of Van Mons of Belgium. Louvain is a town in Belgium which was ransacked by the Germans during August 1914 in a revenge attack.
APPEARANCE, TASTE AND CHARACTERISTICS OF BELLE DE LOUVAIN
The plums are a lot larger than average (often weighing 70g or more), oval in shape and a deep purple colour with a definite hazy bloom to them. The plums lack juice which rules them out as an eating plum and they are also acidic. They do however make excellent jam and pies especially if you want the fruit to retain some of its texture. The stones unfortunately are not easy to remove.
The tree is a strong grower and produces upright branches. It does take a year or two longer than average to produce fruit but this has the advantage that fruiting branches are not so easily broken under the weight of fruit. Disease resistance is particularly good with no weak areas.
This is most definitely a plum tree variety which grows well even in adverse conditions. Cold, wind and low sunlight levels are all tolerated far better than most other varieties. If you want a cooker for cold areas or northern facing gardens then Belle de Louvain will not disappoint. It regularly produces a good crop.
Belle de Louvain plums
(picture courtesy National Archives)
Overall tree size is of course primarily dependant on the rootstock but also on the growing conditions. On average the following tree sizes by rootstock are for a fully grown tree after 7 years:
- St Julien A – unpruned height 4m / 13ft, pruned height 3.5m / 11ft
- VVA-1 – unpruned height 3.5m / 11ft, pruned height 2.5m / 8ft
- Pixy – unpruned 3m / 10ft. pruned height 2.5m / 8ft
Our advice, regarding rootstocks, for growing a Belle de Louvain plum tree in almost all conditions would be the St Julien A rootstock. You’ll get a decent sized, relatively vigorous tree which won’t swamp the average garden. If your garden is on the small size and your soil is well-drained and nutrient rich it may be worth thinking about a Pixy rootstock. However, even in a smallish garden we would suggest that an appropriately pruned Belle de Louvain plum tree on Julien A rootstock would be your best bet.
Your tree should produce a small crop three to four years after it has been planted and will reach its full-cropping capability six years after planting.
PRUNING BELLE DE LOUVAIN PLUM TREES
All the normal rules for pruning plum trees can be ground on our page dedicated to this subject which can be found here. If you have an old or neglected Belle de Louvain plum tree then more information about pruning these trees can be found here.
PESTS, DISEASES OF BELLE DE LOUVAIN PLUM TREES
This variety suffers from remarkably few pests or diseases but if your tree has problems then consult our pest and disease page.
POLLINATION PARTNERS FOR BELLE DE LOUVAIN PLUM TREES
Belle de Louvain plum trees are in pollination group 3 and are self-fertile They will pollinate the following other varieties:
- Avalon – pollination group 2, partially self-fertile, needs another pollination partner
- Blue Tit – pollination group 4, self-fertile
- Cambridge Gage – pollination group 3, partially self-fertile
- Coe’s Golden Drop – pollination group 2, self-sterile, needs another pollination partner
- Czar – pollination group 3, self-fertile
- Denniston’s Superb – pollination group 2, self-fertile
- Excalibur – pollination group 2, partially self-sterile
- Farleigh – pollination group 3, self-fertile
- Haganta – pollination group 3, partially self-fertile
- Herman – pollination group 2, self-fertile
- Jefferson – pollination group 2, self-sterile
- King Damson – pollination group 2, self-fertile
- Langley Bullace – pollination group 3, self-fertile
- Merryweather – pollination group 3, self-fertile
- Opal – pollination group 3, self-fertile
- Reine Claude de Bavay – pollination group 3, self-fertile
- Rivers Early Prolific – pollination group 2, partially self-fertile
- Sanctus Hubertus – pollination group 2, self-sterile, needs another pollination partner
- Victoria – pollination group 3, self- fertile
- Warwickshire Drooper – pollination group 2, self-fertile
- Yellow Pershore – pollination group 2, self-fertile
BUYING A BELLE DE LOUVAIN PLUM TREE
Belle de Louvain is available occasionally in larger garden centres and those which specialise in fruit trees. It is not normally available in supermarkets and diy centres. It is widely available online and we would recommend Ashridge Nurseries who, from our own personal experience, have good prices, prompt delivery and offer a personal service if you have any queries. Click here for the page where they sell this variety.
SUMMARY CHARACTERISTICS OF BELLE DE LOUVAIN PLUM TREES
SKIN COLOUR / TEXTURE: Purple when ripe
FLESH COLOUR: Golden
TASTE AND TEXTURE: Excellent for jams and pies, too dry and acidic for eating
FRUIT SIZE: Larger than average
TREE SIZE: Average to large
REGULARITY OF CROPPING: Regularly produces a large crop
POLLINATION GROUP: 3
FULL NAME: Prunus domestica ‘Belle de Louvain’
SPECIAL FEATURES: Grows well in cold and semi-shade, crops well
BELLE DE LOUVAIN FRUIT PRODUCTION TIME
The average flowering time (optimum time for pollination) and date when fruits are ripe in the UK for the Belle de Louvain plum tree are set out below. If you have set your home town we can give you a more accurate estimate, if you have not set your home town (do it now by clicking here) the dates below will be the average for the UK.
Your town has not been set, the average main flowering time for your Belle de Louvain plum tree in the UK is the second week of April. Fruit will be ready for picking in the second week of August. Click here if you want to set the dates to your home town.
Flowering and fruit production dates vary according to the weather in any particular growing season so the above dates may well change slightly from one year to the next. The flowering date above is when the plum tree produces the maximum number of blossoms, it will also produce blossom, although less, a week or two either side of the date given.