With dark burgundy or purple leaves, fragrant whitish-pink spring blooms, and an appealing form, the purple leaf plum tree is a lovely decorative flowering tree. The purple leaf tree, also known as the cherry plum tree, produces little plum-like yellow or red fruit that is edible. The modest deciduous tree has several decorative applications in a garden setting.
Because of their colorful leaves with pointed, tooth-edged dark leaves, purple leaf plum trees are an excellent ornamental flowering tree for a garden landscape. Delicate white or pink blooms bloom in clusters in the spring, creating a spectacular show. The spreading vase shape of the tree makes it stand out in the winter.
The most dramatic purple leaf plum tree varieties are discussed in this article. You may choose between the tree types by reading descriptions and photos of its purple or black leaves and tiny blooms. You’ll also learn useful advice on how to grow purple leaf plum trees.
What is a Purple Leaf Plum?
The purple leaf plum tree (Prunus cerasifera) is a modest shrub-like ornamental tree with crimson-purple leaves, early spring blossoms, and edible cherry-like plums. It is a lovely addition to any landscaped garden. The little tree, which has dark purple foliage and grows to be 15–25 feet (4.5–8 meters) tall, The vase-shaped crown of the deciduous tree is densely packed with foliage.
USDA zones 4 through 9 are ideal for growing cherry plum blossoming trees. Moisture but well-drained soil that is moderately fertile is best for the easy-to-grow landscape tree. The gorgeous dark foliage tree thrives in full sun and also tolerates some shade. Green leaves develop when there is too much shade.
The purple leaf plum tree has a moderate growth rate, from small to medium size. Over the course of a year, the tree may grow between 12 and 24 inches (30 and 60 cm). When a cherry plum tree is fully grown, it stands around 20 feet (6 meters) tall. Since it generates an abundance of spherical red or yellow fruits that fall from July to September, a purple leaf plum tree is a raggedy tree. Wildlife are drawn to the edible round drupes, but they may leave a trail of debris on driveways and sidewalks.
The purple cherry plum tree has a short life cycle. The little tree only lives for around 20 years in ideal circumstances. The tree is chosen for growing as a specimen tree, foundation planting, flowering hedge, or privacy screen because of its lovely pink or white spring blossoms and shrub-like growth.
Types of Purple Leaf Plum
Purple leaf plum tree ‘Thundercloud’—The light pink flowers of the cherry plum tree, as well as its deep red and purple leaves, give it a rounded appearance. One of the most common purple plum leaf trees is this one.Ornamental purple leaf
plum tree ‘Nigra’—The showy light pink blossoms and dark purple, almost black leaves of the cherry plum ‘Nigra’ tree are beautiful. Yellow or red plums are occasionally produced by the purple-leaved tree.
Purple leaf cherry plum tree ‘Atropurpurea’—The purple leaf plum tree has attractive features such as purple or red leaves and bright pink fragrant flowers.
Flowering purple leaf plum tree ‘Purple Pony’—Dark purple leaves distinguish the dwarf variety of cherry plum tree, which grows to be up to 12 feet (3.6 meters) tall and broad.
Purple leaf plum tree ‘Newport’—The dark purple leaves of this low-branching, spreading cherry plum tree change color in the fall.
Purple leaf plum tree ‘Krauter Vesuvius’—Dark reddish-purple leaves, abundant colorful whitish-pink blooms, and edible burgundy-colored spherical plums characterize the cherry plum tree.
Purple Leaf Plum Flowers
Purple leaf plum trees produce floral blossoms that are typically the earliest to appear in the spring. The exquisite tree is covered in brilliant colors by the solitary little pink or white blooms that bloom in thick clusters. Five petals grow in a radial pattern, measuring 1″ (2.5 cm) across, on each attractive, fragrant bloom.
Purple Leaf Plum Bark
Purple Leaf Plum Bark is smooth reddish-brown or gray in color and has a waxy appearance. Like many cherry trees, the tree’s bark has horizontal lenticels. The thin bark of the purple leaf plum tree becomes fissured with shallow, irregular ridges as it matures. The color of twigs ranges from dark grayish to reddish-brown.
Purple Leaf Plum Tree Leaves
Purple leaf plum tree leaves are pointy ovate leaves with serrated borders and a deep red or purple hue. Fine hairs cover the bottom surface of the dark leaves. In the spring, leaves turn red and get darker as the season progresses. Plum tree leaves may be up to 3 inches (7.5 cm) long and are purple in color.
Purple Leaf Plum Fruit
Purple leaf plum trees produce round yellow or red drupes that are juicy plums. The tiny edible plums are 0.8 to 1.2 inches (2 to 3 cm) in diameter. Purple leaf tree plums have a sweet, slightly acidic flavor that is closer to the stone, according to some. From mid-July to mid-September, the cherry plum fruits are typically ready.
Purple Leaf Plum Identification
Purple leaf plum trees have dark leaves with deep purple to blackish hues, which is the most distinguishing characteristic. The cherry blossoms of purple leaf plum trees, tiny spherical yellow or red plums, and a rounded vase-shaped crown are all characteristics to look for.
Types of Purple Leaf Plum Trees (with Pictures)
Let’s investigate some of the most stunning blooming cherry plum trees that you may put in your garden in further depth.
Flowering Purple Leaf Plum ‘Thundercloud’ (Prunus cerasifera ‘Thundercloud’)
A purple-leaved, medium-sized tree with white-pink five-petalled lovely flowers, tiny round purple plums, and an upright spreading crown, Prunus cerasifera ‘Thundercloud’ is a beautiful purple leaf plum. The plum tree leaves emerge scarlet red and dark purple throughout the season, growing 15 to 25 feet (4.5 to 7.6 meters) tall and broad. In a simple pattern, the deciduous, ovate leaves alternate. The serrated edges of the purple leaves are 2.5 inches (6 cm) long.
Thin reddish-brown smooth bark, white or pink showy flowers, and a spreading habit are some of the identifying features of Prunus cerasifera ‘Thundercloud.’
The ornamental cherry plum tree Prunus cerasifera ‘Thundercloud’ blooms as well. Among the purple leaf plum trees, the Thundercloud tree has some of the darkest purple leaves, branches, and twigs. One of the most popular landscape specimens to plant is this tree, which has medium growth.
Purple Leaf Plum ‘Nigra’ (Prunus cerasifera ‘Nigra’)
The purple leaf cherry plum tree has a rounded crown of dark purple, almost black leaves and is known by its black leaves. The tree’s lovely five-petalled flowers bloom from pink buds and are visible in the early spring. The protruding white stamens and brilliant pink blossoms create a deep pink center.
The purple leaf plum tree Prunus cerasifera ‘Nigra’ grows to be 15 to 20 feet (4.5 to 6 meters) tall and broad. When bronze leaves emerge in the spring, and then progressively turn nearly black before being red in the autumn, the plum tree’s distinctive pyramidal crown looks stunning. Finally, the crimson or yellow edible plums are available to eat in late summer.
The purple leaf plum tree Prunus cerasifera ‘Nigra’ thrives in full sun and wet soil. The ‘Nigra’ plum tree is suitable for growing in a garden setting and accepts a variety of soil types. As a specimen lawn tree, plant the Prunus cerasifera ‘Nigra.’ The flowering shrub-like tree, on the other hand, develops as a hedge, living fence, or privacy screen with the right trimming.
Flowering Purple Leaf Plum ‘Atropurpurea’ (Prunus cerasifera var. Atropurpurea)
var. Prunus cerasifera With beautiful white flowers, crimson-purple leaves, and crimson-brown fruit, the purple leaf plum ‘Atropurpurea’ is an lovely decorative tree. The ovate leaves with serrated borders make up the flowering cherry plum tree’s rounded vase-shaped crown. The height and spread of this little to medium-sized tree is 15 to 25 feet (4.5 to 7.6 meters).
The cherry plum tree, Prunus cerasifera ‘Atropurpurea,’ is a fast-growing blooming tree that thrives on acidic or alkaline soil. Grow the tree in full sun and moist garden soil to ensure dark leaf coloration. When established, this easy-growing specimen tree is drought tolerant.
The dark brown fissured bark, reddish-brown branches, small edible plums, and showy white five-petalled flowers are all identifying features of Prunus cerasifera ‘Atropurpurea.’
Ornamental Purple Leaf Plum ‘Purple Pony’ (Prunus cerasifera ‘Purple Pony’)
The purple leaf plum tree is a lovely dwarf flowering tree with deep purple leaves, pale pink bowl-shaped flowers, and smooth reddish-brown bark. Prunus cerasifera ‘Purple Pony’ This dwarf plum tree grows 10 to 12 feet (3 to 3.6 meters) tall and broad and is ideal for tiny, compact gardens.
Dark foliage is the attractive characteristic of this purple leaf plum tree, as with all purple leaf plum trees. Compared to other cherry plum trees, the little pointed ovate or egg-shaped leaves are smaller. The 1-inch (2.5 cm) wide pale pink scented showy blooms.
This small tree, on the other hand, does not bear fruit, unlike the larger purple leaf plums. The crown of the purple pony cherry plum tree is spreading and rounded. The lovely tree may flourish as a foundation plant, small, dense privacy hedge, or pot plant with the correct care.
Purple Leaf Plum ‘Newport’ (Prunus cerasifera ‘Newport’)
The lovely purple leaf plum tree Prunus cerasifera ‘Newport’ has dark reddish-purple leaves, tiny pale-pink blooms, and small edible drupes. The purple foliage, tiny dark red fruits, and pyramidal to rounded crown of the cherry plum cultivar distinguish it. This specimen tree is 15 to 20 feet (4.5 to 6 meters) tall and broad. In the spring, light bronze-purple leaves with serrated elliptic blades emerge on branches.
Throughout the season, the foliage darkens to dark purple, then in the fall, it turns an lovely red color. The attractive purple foliage of the ‘Newport’ purple leaf plum tree distinguishes it from the other cherry plums, measuring 2.5″ (6 cm) long from petiole to apex.
Purple Leaf Plum ‘Krauter Vesuvius’ (Prunus cerasifera ‘Krauter Vesuvius’)
The gorgeous spreading vase crown, dark red leaves that turn dark purple, and pale pink blooms that cover the tree in spring make Prunus cerasifera ‘Krauter Vesuvius’ a stunning plant. On bare branches, the pink plum tree blossoms produce a magnificent display. The tiny red leaves contrast brilliantly with the white-pink blooms that emerge soon after.
The cherry plum ‘Krauter Vesuvius’ has attractive dark purple leaves and grows 15 to 20 feet (4.5 to 6 meters) tall. Throughout the growing seasons, the deep purple leaves stay vibrant. The purple leaf plum tree, known as the Krauter Vesuvius, has a visual resemblance to the Thundercloud tree. Only the cultivar ‘Krauter Vesuvius’ has ovate leaves that are a brighter red color than the other cultivars.
How to Grow Ornamental Purple Leaf Plum
Decorative flowering trees for the front or backyards include purple leaf plum trees. While some cultivars are winter hardy in zone 4, the majority of trees prefer USDA zones 5 to 8. Flowering plum trees are simple to care for because of their purple leaves. Temperatures as low as 0°F (-17°C) are tolerated by most plum trees.
Where to Plant Purple Leaf Plum
In the brightest part of your garden, grow a purple leaf plum tree. To keep its dark purple leaves bright, the cherry plum tree should get at least six hours of sunlight every day. The dark leaf coloring may fade if there is more than two hours of shade every day.
The purple leaf tree tolerates some shade, however. Purple leaf plum trees can be grown on loamy or sandy soils that are well-drained. Healthy growth is usually aided by average garden soil with no amendment. It should be a fertile planting spot. Compacted soil with poor drainage is the only soil type that may damage a tree’s health.
How to Care For Ornamental Purple Leaf Plum Trees
It’s simple to look after a purple leaf plum tree. The tree produces dark purple leaves and blossoms with beautiful white or pink blooms. For the sake of the tree’s good health, there are a few points to think about.
How to Water Purple Leaf Plum Trees
When the earth is always wet but not soggy, purple leaf plum trees flourish. During the growing season, you might have to water the garden soil twice a week. watering twice a month should be adequate in the fall and winter. The purple leaf plum tree is somewhat drought tolerant. You may thus water the dark-leaved tree less often if there is sufficient rainfall. You may have to water the ground more often during spells of high heat.
Top tip for watering purple leaf plum trees: To ensure that the roots get enough moisture, regularly water the root area.
Pruning Purple Leaf Plum Trees
Cherry plum trees don’t need a lot of trimming. Some light trimming after the tree has finished blooming may help it maintain its form and encourage robust development. To improve the tree’s appearance and health, you can remove any damaged, diseased, or dead branches in the fall.
Fertilizer for Purple Leaf Plum Trees
A purple-leaf plum tree, like most flowering trees, requires fertilizer and nutrients to thrive. In moderately fertile soil, cherry plums flourish. As a result, in the spring, applying an NPK-rated all-purpose fertilizer can help encourage good development. Working with organic compost in the spring may help plants bloom and grow faster.
Pests and Diseases Affecting Purple Leaf Plum Trees
Several kinds of pests attack purple leaf plum trees. Aphids, leafhoppers, caterpillars, scales, and tent caterpillars are all common garden pests that can harm the tree’s development. Using a garden hose to dislodge aphids or leafhoppers with a short, sharp blast of water is an effective way to get rid of them.
Caterpillars may be more difficult to get rid of. If you notice black fuzzy caterpillars and tent-like structures on the branches, for example, you know your purple leaf plum has tent caterpillar problems. Remove them by hand and destroy the nests, use neem oil solution, or a spray containing Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) to exterminate tent caterpillars in certain ways.
Leaf spot, cankers, gray mold, and verticillium wilt are some of the common diseases that affect purple leaf plum trees. Removing damaged foliage and improving the tree’s growing conditions is the best way to resolve problems with diseased foliage. Keeping your flowering trees healthy is frequently enough to ensure adequate air circulation throughout the branches and use the appropriate watering techniques.