Italian prune trees (Prunus domestica) bear sweet, baby-fist-sized plums that are made into prunes. Even so, if you are not a fan of prunes, you will be happy to know that Italian prune plums are excellent eaten fresh or used in baked desserts. Growing a tree from a fruit is a great learning experience for children. However, it takes more time because Italian prunes need cold stratification to germinate, and they will not reach maturity as quickly as a containerized or bare-root tree. Italian prune trees thrive in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 5 to 9.
1 Remove the seed from the plum by cutting around the plum lengthwise, and separating the two halves. For the best seed, collect fully ripe plums in the summer from parent plants that have good form. Rinse any remaining fruit from the seed. Let the seed dry on a screen in a single layer.
2 Fill a plastic bag with enough moist sphagnum peat moss to cover all of the seed completely. Put the seed in the bag, making sure that they are all covered with a thick layer of peat moss. Refrigerate the bag of seed for 90 days at 33 to 41 degrees Fahrenheit.
3 Fill a plastic or wooden flat that has bottom drainage holes with moist peat moss. Plant one seed 2 inches deep per cell. Cover the flat with plastic sheeting. Put it in a dark room with a temperature around 86 degrees F during the day and 68 degrees F at night. Keep the peat moss moist, but not saturated, until seedlings begin to appear.
4 Move the flat into indirect sunlight when seedlings begin to appear. Continue keeping the peat moss evenly moist. When the seedlings have at least four leaves, they may be transplanted into a pot that has bottom drainage holes with potting soil. Keep the soil evenly moist, and put seedlings in full sun. Transplant seedlings into larger pots as they grow bigger until they can be planted in a permanent location.
Items you will need
- Plastic bag
- Sphagnum peat moss
- Plastic or wooden flat that has bottom drainage holes
- Plastic sheeting
- Pot that has bottom drainage holes