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Saturday, March 25, 2017

Pink and White Spring Flowering Trees Commonly Plum and Pear

Q. My husband and I just moved to Summerlin, and I am seeing pink and white blooms on trees in this area.  Do you know what kind of trees these are?
Ornamental pear in full show in spring

A. Two very popular ornamental trees grown in our desert climate are the ornamental pear and flowering plum. Both bloom this time of year. Very popular and commonly planted, they are tough survivors in urban landscapes and adapt to our desert environment. They are not desert species but can handle our summer temperatures and low humidity.
Ornamental pear flowers
            The ornamental pear has very showy white flowers in the spring which last 2 to 3 weeks depending on temperatures. Sometimes called Callery pear, the oldest variety is Bradford but has been replaced by other, improved varieties.
            The flowering plum, besides very showy pink or rose colored flowers, frequently produces fruit. Several varieties of flowering plum exist; some with green leaves, some with purple leaves and some with purple leaves that turn green as they mature.
            I frequently get questions whether the fruit is edible or not. Yes, it is. A number of people collect this fruit and make excellent jams or jellies and alcoholic beverages from it.
            If you’re thinking of planting these trees, they will grow best with the soil above their roots covered in wood chips that easily decompose, enriching the soil. They struggle in soils covered with rock and frequently develop problems.
            Although they grow in the desert environments, they are not desert plants. Water and fertilize them like a fruit tree. But prune them as an ornamental tree.
Purple leaf plum in flower
            Plant them as you would any other landscape tree or shrub. Dig the hole at least three times the diameter of the container. Mix into the soil removed from the hole about 50%, by volume, with good quality compost and a couple hands full of phosphorus fertilizer.
Flowering plum flower
            When planting these trees, remove them from the container and use plenty of water during planting. The planting hole should be a slurry of soil, compost and fertilizer when finished to remove air pockets and then allowed to drain.
            Make a basin around the tree 3 to 4 inches deep and fill it with water three times after planting. Continue hand watering these trees three times a week, filling the basin each time, before leaving them to your irrigation system.
            If the tree has a stake in the container, cut the green plastic fastening the tree to the stake and pound it solidly into the soil at the bottom of the hole. Reattach the stake to the tree with green nursery tape to prevent the roots from moving. Remove the stake after the first growing season.

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