CZAR PLUM TREE
By David Marks
This variety has been grown in the UK for over 140 years and still holds an RHS Award of Garden Merit, astonishing given the large number of more modern and supposedly better varieties.
We recommend it for two reasons and the first is that it makes a very reliable cooking plum which crops very early in the season. The second reason is that it thrives in conditions where lesser plum trees would fail. Cold, shade and poor soil conditions are not a problem for Czar.
PARENTAGE OF CZAR PLUM TREES
A cross of Prince Engelbert and Early Prolific, bred by Rivers of Sawbridgeworth in 1874. Originally awarded an RHS Award of Garden Merit in 1993, it has been reconfirmed in all subsequent years including the latest 2013 trials. It was named after the Czar of Russia
APPEARANCE, TASTE AND CHARACTERISTICS OF CZAR PLUMS
This is primarily a cooking plum but if left to ripen on the tree it is a passably good eater but definitely not one of the best tasting. When picked at the colour in the picture below it is at its best as a cooker, it darkens considerably when left on the tree longer.
The flesh is yellow and the stone is small and comes away easily making it easy for cooking uses. It is fully self-fertile and a single Czar tree will produce large amounts of fruits regularly even on its own. One of its key advantages is that it grows well in cooler conditions all over the UK and will produce a good crop even in semi-shade or on poor soil conditions.
The size of the individual plums varies but on average they are about 5cm / 2in long and 3cm / 1½in wide. This makes them just slightly larger than the average plum and weighing in at an average 35g. The fruit flesh is dark yellow firm and with lots of juice. The blossoms are white and larger than most other plum trees
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 Czar plum tree in most 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 it may be worth thinking about a Pixy rootstock. However, even in a smallish garden we would suggest that an appropriately pruned Czar plum tree on Julien A rootstock would be your best bet.
Your tree should produce a crop three to four years after it has been planted and will reach its full-cropping capability six years after planting.
PRUNING CZAR 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 Czar plum tree then more information about pruning these trees can be found here.
PESTS, DISEASES OF CZAR PLUM TREES
Czar plum trees are susceptible to all the pests and diseases of which attack plum trees and for a comprehensive list of symptoms and cures see our plum tree pest and disease page. It is unfortunate however that Czar does have a reputation, and quite rightly so, of suffering from the following problem in particular:
PLUM MOTH OF CZAR PLUM TREES
The signs of Plum Moth are:
- Small pinkish maggots inside the plums
- Dried drops of gum which form near the entry hole
- Premature fruit drop and discolouration of the plums.
This is a pest which seems to particularly affect Czar plum trees. It is not good news because it is particularly difficult to treat. See here for more details.
POLLINATION PARTNERS FOR CZAR PLUM TREES
Czar plum trees are self-fertile and will produce a more than adequate crop of plums on their own without any other plum trees nearby. If any fruit tree sellers tell you otherwise they will simply be trying to sell you two plum trees where in truth, a single tree of this variety will do fine by itself. However, this variety makes an excellent pollinator for the following other plum trees:
- Avalon – pollination group 2, partially self-fertile
- Belle de Louvain – pollination group 3, self-fertile
- Cambridge Gage – pollination group 3, partially self-fertile
- Coe’s Golden Drop – pollination group 2, self-sterile, needs another pollination partner
- 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
- Shropshire Prune – pollination group 3, self-fertile
- Victoria – pollination group 3, self-fertile
- Warwickshire Drooper – pollination group 2, self-fertile
- Yellow Pershore – pollination group 2, self-fertile
BUYING A CZAR PLUM TREE
Czar plum trees are a very popular variety in the UK. If any garden centre / online supplier sells a plum tree they will almost certainly sell this variety. This gives you an enormous choice of suppliers both online and in the High Street.
If you are buying online from a specialist supplier then we can recommend Ashridge Nurseries and Blackmoor who are both very competitive on price, quality, delivery and after sales service.
SUMMARY CHARACTERISTICS OF CZAR PLUM TREE
USE: Cooking primarily but can be eaten
SKIN COLOUR / TEXTURE: Deep purple when fully ripe
FLESH COLOUR: Yellow / orange
TASTE AND TEXTURE: Juicy when fully ripe, tart if used as a cooker
FRUIT SIZE: Medium to large
TREE SIZE: Average
REGULARITY OF CROPPING: Crops well and regularly
POLLINATION: Self fertile, does not need a pollination partner
POLLINATION GROUP: 3
FULL NAME: Prunus domestica ‘Czar’
AWARDS: Royal Horticultural Society Award of Garden Merit in 1993 reconfirmed in 2013
SPECIAL FEATURES: Heavy crops of good quality fruit for cooking. Good resistance to cold and frosty conditions, grows well in semi-shade.
FLOWERING AND FRUITING TIMES: The average flowering time (optimum time for pollination) and date when fruits are ripe in the UK for the Czar 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 Czar plum tree in the UK is the third week of April. Fruit will be ready for picking in the first to second weeks of August. Click here if you want to set the dates to your home town.
Flowering and fruit picking 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.
COMMENTS / QUESTIONS LEFT BY OUR READERS
|Date: 24 April 2015
|From: Lynne Pearson
|I am growing a Czar Plum, in a large pot, think its 2 or 3 yrs. Just come into leaf, but no sign of blossom yet. Bought as pot grown reputable nursery. Will blossom come soon or do leaves usually follow blossom (friend has advised me?). Advice and help welcome please.
ANSWER: It may take three to four years (after planting) for your tree to produce blossom and fruit. Normally the blossom appears before the leaves. I suspect that next year it will produce some blossom and a small crop then reach its maximum cropping potential a couple of years later.