Wednesday, March 04, 2020

Plant Profile: Japanese Apricot (Prunus mume)



Prunus mume, commonly called Japanese apricot, are often mistaken for their cousins, the Japanese cherry tree.  However, the Japanese apricot blooms much earlier – usually from February to March in the Mid-Atlantic region. The Prunus mume flowers have more rounded petals than cherry blossoms and they are more fragrant as well.

It is native to China, Korea, and Japan. (You will also here it referred to as the Chinese plum or Japanese plum.)  This small tree grows to about 15-20 feet tall. It is winter hardy to USDA Zones 6-8. It prefers average soils with medium moisture that are well-drained, acidic loams.  It will not do well in heavy clay and poorly drained wet soils. Japanese apricot likes a location in full sun to part-shade, with best flowering in full sun.

The Japanese apricot is primarily grown for ornamental purposes, especially for those late winter blooms.  The flowers are followed by small, greenish-yellow fruits. The apricots ripen in summer and are technically edible, though very bitter if eaten straight from the tree. The fruits may be harvested for use in making jams and preserves.  In Japanese cuisine, the Prunus mume fruits are made into a mouth-puckering sour and salty pickled fruit treat.

This tree requires little care and if you need to prune it ever, do so immediately after it finishes flowering.

Try planting a Japanese Apricot tree in your garden today – you can grow that! 

The video was produced by Washington Gardener Magazine and edited by intern Emily Coakley.
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