Prunus americana

American Plum


Bare Root Plants
Out of Stock

American Plum kicks off the spring season with a spectacular display of white blossoms.  These clustering blooms line the branches, creating ornate patterns against an otherwise dormant backdrop in April and May.  Most folks find the flowers have a lovely aroma, although some say the scent it a little too perfume-y and not quite pleasant.  Leathery leaves begin to unfurl as the flower petals fall away, replaced by luscious fruits.  Having multiple shrubs is not necessary for fruit production, but they may increase each other’s yields.  The small plums grow to about 1” and typically shift from yellow to red once they are ripe throughout August and September.  These wild fruits have incredibly tart, tough skin; the flesh is juicy and sweet - but distinctly different than what is available at the grocery store.  They make excellent jellies, preserves, and baked goods.  The leaves turn either amber or ruby in the fall.  

Prunus americana could be considered a large shrub or a small tree, topping out at around 20 feet tall.  The overall height is determined by sun and soil conditions.  This plant grows equally well in full sun or partial shade.  American Plum prefers to keep its roots on the moist end of the spectrum.  A fast grower, this shrub is renowned for its thicket-forming habits.  It readily spreads by suckers once established.  Prune these back regularly to maintain the desired size and shape.  After several years, consider allowing a few suckers to harden and develop into young saplings because as fast as this shrub grows, it has a short lifespan.  New saplings keep this beautiful specimen in the landscape.

American Plum is considered a keystone species throughout its native range.  This single foundational shrub provides food and shelter for a disproportionately large amount of food webs.  Be prepared to see many native insects collecting pollen and sipping nectar, but also munching on the leaves and fruit.  This predation may look ugly, but it is not damaging to the plant (repeat destruction from introduced species like the Japanese Beetle can be fatal).  Birds consume many of the native insects, and most inland bird species raise their young chicks on a caterpillar diet.  The twining canopy provides shelter, as well.  Red and Gray Foxes will eat the fallen fruits. 
One American Plum can host an endless circle of life. 

Other common names in use include Wild Plum.

American Plum can be aggressive and therefore may not be suitable for small landscape plantings.

Live Plant Shipping Table

Spring Fall Age/Size
Dormant Bare Roots
April/May October 2 years/12"

3 Questions asked on Prunus americana

Just how aggressive is this plant? I have been considering adding one to our backyard in an area where there isn’t really a lot of room for it to colonize. There is sufficient space for one plant, but I have heard from numerous sources that it likes to sucker so I am not sure if it would be a good fit. That being said, we have other plants in our yard that send out suckers and we simply keep them in check by trimming the offshoots.
Hi Maro. American Plum readily spreads by suckers. It is also easy to control by pruning those suckers.
What is the native range for this plant? I did not see a range map.
Hi there! Here is the BONAP map showing the native range of American Plum.
When is the best time to prune wild plums? I’ve read mixed information on the best practices here.
Hello Nick, You can prune a little bit in early spring to even things up (before flowering) and remove dead areas. After fruiting (summer), you can shape and prune off the terminal growth. Avoid trimming in fall.


Growing your own plants from seed is the most economical way to add natives to your home. Before you get started, one of the most important things to know about the seeds of wild plants is that many have built-in dormancy mechanisms that prevent the seed from germinating. In nature, this prevents a population of plants from germinating all at once, before killing frosts, or in times of drought. To propagate native plants, a gardener must break this dormancy before seed will grow.

Each species is different, so be sure to check the GERMINATION CODE listed on the website, in the catalog, or on your seed packet. Then, follow the GERMINATION INSTRUCTIONS prior to planting. Some species don't need any pre-treatment to germinate, but some species have dormancy mechanisms that must be broken before the seed will germinate. Some dormancy can be broken in a few minutes, but some species take months or even years.

Seed dormancy can be broken artificially by prolonged refrigeration of damp seed in the process of cold/moist STRATIFICATION. A less complicated approach is to let nature handle the stratifying through a dormant seeding, sowing seeds on the surface of a weed-free site in late fall or winter. Tucked safely beneath the snow, seeds will be conditioned by weathering to make germination possible in subsequent growing seasons.

To learn more, read our BLOG: How to Germinate Native Seeds

Dormant Bare Root Plants

We dig plants when they are dormant from our outdoor beds and ship them April-May and October. Some species go dormant in the summer and we can ship them July/August. We are among the few still employing this production method, which is labor intensive but plant-friendly. They arrive to you dormant, with little to no top-growth (bare-root), packed in peat moss. They should be planted as soon as possible. Unlike greenhouse-grown plants, bare-root plants can be planted during cold weather or anytime the soil is not frozen. A root photo is included with each species to illustrate the optimal depth and orientation. Planting instructions/care are also included with each order.

Download: Installing Your Bare-Root Plants

Potted Plants

3-packs and trays of 32, 38, or 50 plants leave our Midwest greenhouses based on species readiness (being well-rooted for transit) and order date; Spring shipping is typically early May through June, and Fall shipping is mid-August through September. Potted 3-packs and trays of 38 plugs are started from seed in the winter so are typically 3-4 months old when they ship. Trays of 32/50 plugs are usually overwintered so are 1 year old. Plant tray cells are approximately 2” wide x 5” deep in the trays of 38 and 50, and 2.5" wide x 3.5" deep in the 3-packs and trays of 32; ideal for deep-rooted natives. Full-color tags and planting & care instructions are included with each order.

Download: Planting and Care of Potted Plants

*PLEASE NOTE: we are a mail order nursery and have no retail facilities, but you may pick up your order if prior arrangements are made. Pick up orders are subject to **MN Sales Tax.

US Shipping & Handling Charges

SEED $100.00 and under: $5.00
Retail SEED orders over $100.00 ship free!

Custom seed mixes or discounted seed sales over $100, add 5% of the total seed cost
(for orders over $1,000 a package signature may be required)

BARE ROOT and POTTED PLANTS $50.00 and under: $9.00
over $50.00: 18% of the total plant cost. (For orders over $1,000 a package signature may be required.)

TOOLS and BOOKS have the shipping fee included in the cost of the product (within the contiguous US).

**We are required to collect state sales tax in certain states. Your state's eligibility and % will be calculated at checkout. MN State Sales Tax of 7.375% is applied for orders picked up at our MN location. Shipping & handling charges are also subject to the sales tax.

Shipping Season

SEED, TOOLS and BOOKS are sent year-round. Most orders ship within 1-3 business days.

BARE ROOT PLANTS are shipped during optimal transplanting time: Spring (April-May) and Fall (Oct). Some ephemeral species are also available for summer shipping. Since our plants are field-grown, Nature sets the schedule each year as to when our season will begin and end. We fill all orders, on a first-come, first-serve basis, to the best of our ability depending on weather conditions beyond our control.

POTTED PLANTS (Trays of 32/38/50 plugs and 3-packs) typically begin shipping early May and go into June; shipping time is heavily dependent on all the species in your order being well-rooted. If winter-spring greenhouse growing conditions are favorable and all species are well-rooted at once, then we ship by order date (first come, first serve). We are a Midwest greenhouse, and due to the challenges of getting all the species in the Mix & Match and Pre-Designed Garden Kits transit-ready at the same time, we typically can't ship before early May. Earlier shipment requests will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

*We are unable to ship PLANTS (bare root or potted) outside the contiguous US or to CALIFORNIA due to regulations.


We ship using USPS, UPS and Spee Dee. UPS and Spee Dee are often used for expediting plant orders; they will not deliver to Post Office Box numbers, so please also include your street address if ordering plants. We send tracking numbers to your email address so please include it when you order.



Germination Code
Life Cycle
Sun Exposure
Full, Partial
Soil Moisture
Medium-Wet, Medium, Medium-Dry
up to 20 feet
Bloom Time
April, May
Bloom Color
Pollinator Favorite: butterflies, moths, bees, wasps, beetles
Bird Favorite: seeds, insects, fruit, nectar, nesting, perch
USDA Zones
Plant Spacing
Catalog Code