Purple Leaf Plum Propagation

One of the reasons I like gardening so much, and I believe that other gardeners share the same reason, is to see the result of your work. To see a job finally come to completion. I enjoy the journey and the process too, but it is extremely gratifying when the end of a project comes and something worked really well like a good combination of plants in your pots or bushels full of mouthwatering tomatoes. Here is just a part of the Purple Leaf Plum Propagation process. The process won’t be complete until the little trees have their final planting, but it’s safe to say that the rooting process has been a success.

Earlier in the week I transplanted nine new purple leaf plum trees. Each of which had roots. Two of the batch didn’t have roots but they were alive and well. Sometimes some plants just take a little longer than others. I just put them back into their rooting medium (I’ve just been using playground sand) and transplanted the nine that did have roots. In this post you can see some of the results.

Above you can see one of the rooted cuttings in full bloom. It looks almost like an orchid in its current state, although it will quickly grow into a small tree.

Here in the three pictures on the right you can see what the goal was: too make roots. Once the plant has these little legs beneath it it can be potted up in soil. The plants will now have an easier time getting water.

Here in this picture you can see the plum leafing out. It’s used much of it’s reserve energy to make the roots so it’s important that it receives good light to help feed itself through it’s new leaves.

Here are a few more leaves to look at. You can see the purplish tint to the new leaves. As the leaves grow older the color will darken.

In the pictures above and below you can see the nine purple leaf plums all potted up and prepared for their next stage of development. They aren’t ready for the ground yet, but it won’t take long! I’ll check their progress in a few weeks and see if they have enough roots for planting. Right now there are twelve plants potted up. I gave two plants away and I have another fourteen cuttings to transplant. There’s more work ahead!

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14 thoughts on “Purple Leaf Plum Propagation”

  1. Dave, great work on making lots of plum trees. We can call you Dave Purple Plum, like Johnny Appleseed only more ornamental! I forget, is your starting medium perlite?

    Frances at Faire Garden

  2. Saw that you were in TN and had to take a look…I have family in Helenwood and New River.

    Looks like you’re going to have a lot of plum trees. I was weeding under my ornamental plum today and working on the kaffir lilies that surround it. Gorgeous tree! I love when the sun shines through it and how the little plums match exactly the leaves.

    Enjoyed your blog!

  3. Frances,

    Thanks. 🙂 I added it into the post but I use regular playground sand. It’s heavier but it drains well, is cheap, and is sterilized.


    Thanks for coming by! I used to work one county over from where your family lives. A little spot called Clarkrange. It’s a very pretty area of TN. The plums were mostly an experiment. I really didn’t expect so many to root but it’s not a bad problem!

  4. Dave, you are right about how it looks like an orchid in bloom. How pretty! I think you are going to have lots of lovely plums in just a few years.

  5. Dave,

    They are terrific looking treelings. It is gratifying to see the project work so well…

    In the past before drought was a frequent occurrence I had success propagating red-twig dogwood (you cut them back anyway) … I just cut the stems off in winter and stuck them in the ground, seriously…..most rooted.


  6. Dave, your Purple Leaf Plums blooms look white. Mine are Pink. They are just now beginning to pop out. It has a lot of root growth in Summer. That is what I take for treelings to root. If I were to take limb cuttings would it need to be new or old wood? Did you split the ends before putting them in sand? I have some builders sand, will that work? What makes root growth? They are becoming a nuisance in the yard.

  7. Will ya’ll be tired of me next year when I’m trying to do all this and completely forgot what you said. If I could, I’d go out right now and plant some stuff up–but with us moving, I can’t. It makes me sad. I want to be having fun too.

  8. Melanie,

    I guess I have a thing for the genus Prunus. The plums and cherries are both members of that genus and have such great spring color!


    That’s great that they rooted like that! Some trees and shrubs that tend to sucker will root very easily. I know you can propagate forsythia and willows also just by putting them in the ground. I’ll have to show the progress of my red twig dogwoods. They’ve got some good leaves growing now.


    Purple leaf plums can range from white to pink so that isn’t unusual. I’m not sure why they vary, it may be something to do with the maturity of the tree. Or maybe that’s just the way it is! As for cuttings try to take them from young wood. Less than a year old. Greenwood cuttings work well in spring, semi-ripe in summer, and hardwood in fall. I took hardwood cuttings and kept the diameter of the branches about the same as a pencil’s. You don’t need to split the ends at all. You could score them with a knife on the sides to help them absorb water. Don’t do that more than half an inch to three quarters of an inch. They grow roots because of the auxins in the buds. Auxins are a growth hormone that plants use to make leaves and roots. If conditions are right they’ll make what they need. Getting a store bought rooting compounds helps. They simulate the auxins. I used some for these cuttings. It’s possible they will root without it but chances of success are much greater with the rooting hormone. Builder’s sand should work fine. Are the roots surfacing above ground?


    Cuttings are a great way to take some of your old landscape with you! That at least gives you an excuse to get out there and garden.

  9. No, the roots from the mother tree are NOT showing above ground, but I keep getting these little trees from the roots. It’s almost like they were wild plants with no upkeep done anywhere around.

  10. Lola,

    It’s probably the suckers that are popping up from the roots of the original plant. As I drive around and see them in yards you almost always see several smaller ones around the larger tree. That’s one reason why they can make a good hedge. To get rid of them you may have to dig them up and snip them from the main plant. You could pot them up and pass them on to interested friends, just make sure you keep a few small roots on them. Severing them from the main plant won’t do any harm to it.

  11. Hi – thanks for the article. i have an ornamental plum that has now fallen over twice. the leaves/flowers were great this season but now i'm not sure if it can be raised back up. i'm planning to take some cuttings (pencil thick) and then use the root hormone, and pray.
    meanwhile, i had not heard of using sand (versus potting soil) – can you advise how often to water? how deeply? outside or in? use a mini greenhouse (jar?) or something else? many thanks!!!!!

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