Photo/Illustration: Bill Johnson
Beach plum is native up and down the Atlantic coast, where colonies of them explode each year into foaming masses of small, lily white blossoms. The bloom on my cultivated bushes is equally profuse. While one may count on these bursts of spring color, the fruit doesn’t always appear. The reasons for this inconsistent production are not yet clear, but I’m happy to grow the plants for their spring show and occasional lack of fruit. New stems might also arise from creeping roots, producing a wide-spreading thicket up to 6 feet tall, which you may or may not want to contain with pruning. Beach plums come in a wide spectrum of flavors with some plants bearing fruit that need doctoring in the kitchen and others offering delicacies as delectable as a fresh plum.
Beach plum makes an attractive hedge
Name: Prunus maritima
Zones: 3 to 8
Fruit: Appears in summer and fall; at least two plants required for best yield
Because both shrubs require cross-pollination to produce fruit, you will need to plant at least two of the same species. It may be best to plant even more because using Nanking cherry and beach plum as hedges creates a powerful spring show and makes for an easy summer harvest.