Prunus x blireana

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Prunus x blireana

One of the best spring blossom trees, Prunus x blireana is a cross between the Japanese apricot (Prunus mume) and the purple-leaved plum (Prunus cerasifera ‘Pissardii’).

Plant details

Common name: Purple-leafed Plum

Botanic name: Prunus x blireana 

Description: Deciduous tree growing to around 5m (15′) tall. It has slender, arching branches, double mauve pink flowers, and reddish purple leaves which turn purplish green in summer. Flowering time is from mid August to mid September. This hybrid is sterile, so does not produce fruit.

Best climate: Adelaide, Hobart, Melbourne, Perth, Sydney and the Mountains.

Best look:

dramatic spring feature plant, particularly when planted in a row street tree foliage contrast plant

Good points:

beautiful double pink flowers in late winter and spring fragrant flowers attractive reddish purple foliage hardy does not produce fruit, so no need to worry about fruit fly

Downside:

Prunus trees are susceptible to attack from fruit-tree borer, particularly if the interior branches become congested and rub against each other (see note on pruning below). They are also attacked by a fungal disease called Shot Hole, which causes small holes to form in the leaves, usually in late spring or summer. If this problem occurs spray in autumn and again in late winter with copper oxychloride.

Care:

This tree needs moderately fertile soil, good drainage and a sunny position. Protection from wind is also important, as strong winds will blow the petals off the plant and ruin the flower display. After flowering thin out the centre and make room for new growth by removing old, non-productive wood. (Note: Prunus x blireana flowers on 1-3 year old wood.) Watch for suckers from the understock, which will have green instead of reddish purple leaves. These should be removed immediately.

Dark foliage:

For a strong dark purple leaf colour consider the closely related purple-leafed prunus, Prunus cerasifera ‘Nigra’. This plum holds its dark leaf colour throughout summer.

Getting started:

Flowering plum trees are available at most nurseries, especially in winter when the plants are sold bare-rooted and in spring when potted plants in flower can be purchased. Expect to pay around $22-$25 for plants in flower in 250mm (10″) pots.