Tomlinson Natal Plum
By: Deb Pavlosky
I really don’t know why I don’t see more natal plums in our landscapes around here. Natal plums are really easy to grow and don’t require much care at all to look great all year round.
The Tomlinson variety of natal plum is a dwarf, evergreen shrub that will spread slowly to 2 feet tall and 3 feet wide. And, it grows best in Zones 9a – 11, that’s us! This shrub performs well in full sun and with regular watering initially (especially in the extreme heat). Over time, this shrub will become quite drought resistant in your landscape; easily withstanding radiant heat from patios or driveways. It’s an excellent choice for a container planting too. Natal plums can adapt to many different soil types given good drainage. Because they are so tolerant of a variety of growing conditions, these plants are great for coastal plantings; their thick leaves protect them from harsh conditions. This shrub will need to be protected in hard freezes. Fragrant white blooms will appear heavily in spring and the shrub will bloom intermittently through the fall. The flowers will produce small fruit that start out green and turn a deep, wine-red when ripe. These fruit are edible and can be enjoyed fresh or in pies or jellies. There are thorns on natal plums, but they are small and tucked tightly into the dense arrangement of leaves. I guess that’s what I love most about Tomlinson natal plums – the foliage is a beautiful glossy green and the arrangement of leaves on stems is just so attractive.
So, if you are looking for an easy addition to your full-sun landscape, consider a natal plum. You won’t be disappointed.