Weeping Santa Rosa Plum [An Ugly Duckling Fruit Tree]

Weeping Santa Rosa Plum [An Ugly Duckling Fruit Tree]

Weeping Santa Rosa plum best stone fruit for low Chill in Southern California
Low Chill plum tree weeping to the ground. This does not need the typical pruning at planting time.

Buying Bareroot

About five years ago, I purchased two fruit trees, a Weeping Santa Rosa Plum and an Ultra Dwarf Blenheim Apricot tree at OSH on clearance at the end of bare root season. Discounted plants are rarely worth the trouble and I probably should not have wasted any money on it, but I am really glad I did. In a weird way, I kind of enjoy taking the risk. And a few of my favorite plants have been clearance survivors. Initially, I wasn’t sure if the Weeping Santa Rosa plum was going to survive its first summer because many of the branches were either broken or kind of dried out looking, but when I scraped a fingernail into the bark of the trunk, there was still plenty of green, so I was hopeful. I potted it up into a 5 gallon can and did a lot of corrective pruning, and babied it through the first year in dappled shade. Later in the winter, I planted into the ground. The gamble paid off. Although it started out pretty ugly, every year the tree has become a little bit prettier.

Ornamental Fruit Tree

The Weeping Santa Rosa plum tree has a really attractive habit to it. It is about 6 to 7 feet tall and wide. This is one of the few deciduous fruit trees I would not recommend heading back at planting time to keep it low for picking and pruning. The thin branches gracefully arch slightly upwards and then down toward the ground. At most, I would recommend thinning it out to select for the main 4 or 5 branches if necessary.

Weeping Santa Rosa is a perfect candidate for anyone wanting edible landscaping. Even if it didn’t make delicious fruit, I would still consider it to be garden-worthy. The flowers are attractive in Spring, and the plums are lovely hanging on the weeping branches as they change from green to red to purple.

Finally producing

Despite its rough start in life, I picked my first plum from the Weeping Santa Rosa plum two summers ago, in July. Summer 2020, it had a great crop for its size, more than fifty plums. The first fruit was ready on June 22nd and we picked two or three a day for more than three weeks. They seem to be just about perfect when they fall off the stem with the slightest touch. Boy have they been good!

The flavor is amazing and I can easily say this is one of my favorite fruits I have grown. They have a blueish bloom on the skin that wipes off when touched. The color is a dark burgundy-purple on the outside, and generally reddish flesh, with a few having a bit of amber, especially if picked early. They are incredibly sweet, juicy, with a classic plum tart skin giving it a complex flavor experience. Sorry, I don’t have a brix rating to share, but I don’t usually judge fruit flavor based on sweetness alone. I typically like fruits with a balance of sweet and tart.

Picking for the 2021 season just started on Monday, June 21st, very similar to last year’s start. It’s a shame the crop isn’t larger this year. It appears to need about 250 to 350 chilling hours below 45 degrees. Most of the other plum grafts elsewhere in our yard didn’t bloom as much this year.

Fruit of Weeping Santa Rosa plum tree

Original Santa Rosa plum

The last time I enjoyed eating plums this much was almost 25 years ago when we lived in our old duplex. Even plums from the farmer’s market haven’t been quite as delicious. At our duplex, there was a gnarled old plum tree in the back alley that grew so many plums one year it looked like it was going to break the branches under the weight. Those were such delicious plums, I wish I knew the variety. If I had to guess, I would say it was probably the more common, regular variety of Santa Rosa plum since it was a rental neighborhood and few fruit trees around. I have thought about driving by to see if it is still there, but I doubt it is, especially since it was really old looking back then. However, I think I like Weeping Santa Rosa plum even more.

Propagating another Weeping Santa Rosa Plum tree

I like how the WSR looks so much I bought a bare-root Myro 29c rootstock and grafted a second one this past winter to plant in the front yard sometime in the future. Right now, it is a bit funny looking. I have been training the new one as a tall single unbranched truck with ties to a stake to prevent it from weeping. At the moment, this is my favorite tree and if I could only grow one plum or pluot, it would definitely be Weeping Santa Rosa plum, especially since it is self-fertile. But I especially like that it was only a $5 tree.

Please share in the comments your experience with Weeping Santa Rosa Plum trees or your favorite fruit tree. Happy Gardening!

Dormant Weeping Santa Rosa Plum tree before pruning winter 2020
Dormant plum tree in winter of 2020 when Corgie, my Scottish Collie was still a puppy.

I would love to know what you think about this.

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