Saturday, April 5, 2014

Pluot Pollination, and Roses are Blooming

Spring is here and I hope many of you are enjoying your gardens at or near their best. I am sorry about another long absence, but I hope this long post will atone for it somewhat :)

Elie Beauvilain
I have been busy with many things, but in the garden, the project that took most time this spring was trying to figure out pollination for pluots.

I am used to apple and cherry trees, and it took me years to realize how aggressive pluot pruning should be to increase flowering. 

Pluots are technically crosses between Japanese plums and apricots, but are essentially improved Japanese plums, with little if any (or so some people say) apricot genes. Pluots taste absolutely wonderful and are very healthy garden trees in this climate. The only problem I and some other people have had is getting some varieties (there are quite a lot of them in the market) to set more than a modest fruit crop.

The pollen is sticky and hard to transfer by hand.

 It seems that the pollen of at least some varieties is not very attractive to pollinators.

I rarely saw bees on my pluot flowers. Hover flies were much more frequent visitors.

 Even growing several varieties close together (I have seven now) does not result in big crops, at least not in my garden :/. We do get plenty of fruit for fresh eating, but I don't think I will ever have enough to worry about making jam...

It does not look like a bumper crop: the little yellow fruit will soon fall off, it resulted from flowers that have not been pollinated.  This is Splash, a partially self-fruitful variety (to the best of my knowledge)

And now back to roses. My garden is not quite at peak bloom, but soon will be.


We had a warm and largely rainless winter, and the roses started growing early.


The balmy weather was followed by a spate of rain and wind, which  brought quite a bit of damage to the blooms.

April in Paris

 Nevertheless, the rain is welcome, and many flowers remained unspoiled. Here are some of them:

Crown Princess Margareta


Mme Berard


Carding Mill


Roseraie de l'Hay

Golden Celebration

Jaune Desprez (?) at the San Jose Heritage Rose Garden

Rubens at the Heritage

'Grandmother's Hat' at the Heritage

Mme Edouard Herriot

Rosa Primula at the Heritage

Souvenir d'un Ami at the Heritage

Sutter's Gold

'Tina Marie'

We gardeners are the luckiest of people. Whatever life throws at us, as long as  the garden blooms, we have a source of joy, tranquility and beauty, always waiting, just outside the door.


  1. 'Barcelona' has a scrumptious deep color! Welcome back, to you and to Spring!

  2. Hi Masha, I had no idea that pluot pollination is so difficult! I have never eaten a pluot, but reading your post I certainly want to try it. Now to the roses. Your garden is getting more and more lovely with each spring as the roses becoming more and more mature. 'Elie Beauvilain' is still a favorite of mine in your garden. Is it also 'Elie Beauvilain' on the last photo of this post? I am surprised that your 'Amazone' is free of powdery mildew. Do you spray this rose? We also had strong winds and rain showers lately, which have damaged some of my roses quite a bit, but other are completely unphased. Nature is always full of surprises! Warm regards,

  3. A fantastic display as always, Masha. I particularly love the Golden Celebration. I planted one in my garden last autumn. Can't wait till it reaches full size!

  4. Thank you!

    Christina, you are right, the last rose is also Elie. Amazone is almost never clean, the mildew will probably come later...

  5. Masha how wonderful it is to see you are back. What a beautiful blog and roses.
    Overhere the roses started growing very earlier this year. I think because we had a warm winter. I never had rosebuds in March but now we have. Love your writing about the plun never heard about it before.
    Have a wonderful day and enjoy the beauty of nature.
    Warm wishes Marijke

  6. What stunningly beautiful photos.....a real joy to see!!! Thank You!!

  7. Good to see you back Masha. Still waiting for D though lol! Maybe you should look into using a non pluot pollinator for the pluots, such as a Japanese plum or an apricot variety which flowers at the same time.

  8. Beautiful pictures!
    Nice day

  9. So many beautiful roses!! We're still about a month away from rose bloom. The depth of color in Barcelona is amazing. I hadn't heard of pluots before. They sound wonderful except for the difficulty in getting them to fruit.

  10. Flowers like these remind me why I spend most of my spare time in my garden. Amazing roses ;-)

  11. Thank you!

    Nik, I think the problem with pluots is not lack of pollenizers but that fact that bees don't find flowers attractive probably because of not enough nectar in them. That's my best guess, although I have no science to back me up.

    I got so bogged down in the thousands of photos I have taken I never did get to D. I do intend to continue though even if it might be next winter... I am sorry, I will try my best.

  12. The Roses look so beautiful bathed in a bit of precipation! (My favorite on this post is Sutter's Gold.) The Pluots sound delicious. We had a neighbor when I was growing up who had several Plum trees, and they always encouraged the neighborhood kids to stop over for fresh Plums whenever we we wished. It was wonderful! Good luck with the pollination effort!

  13. Oh my, your roses are so lovely they make me sigh for summer. Your pluot orchard looks amazing in bloom as well! I did not know that they were tricky to pollinate. I have only one (hopefully self-pollinating) damson plum, newly planted last year. Was hoping it would produce enough fruit for jam (I love plum jam!), but if seven trees is not enough I may be disappointed!

  14. Thank you, Beth and Spurge!

    Spurge, please do not draw any conclusions about plums from pluots, I am sure yours will bear fine. We have lots of Santa Rosa plums in the area and the trees are always loaded with fruit :)

  15. Your garden must have an amazing fragrance with so many beautiful roses blooming. Best Wishes.

  16. Your garden reminds me of why you grow roses in California. Our garden is in the Mid Atlantic U.S., Maryland, and we struggle even with knockout roses, but a few, Hansa and Belinda's Dream, struggle to flourish. Thank you for the beautiful photos to whet my rose fancies.

  17. Thank you!

    Karen, I wish I could photograph fragrance. Maybe someday...

    Shenandoah Kepler, I am lucky to live in a Mediterranean climate where roses do so well. Humidity is a real enemy for them :(. I think if I lived in the Mid Atlantic, I would be collecting something else, grassy perennials or wildflowers maybe...


I am so glad you have stopped by!