Strange though it may seem, a whole series of crosses between plums and apricots, and even peaches, have now been developed. The original hybrid is the “plumcot”, which is 1/2 plum and 1/2 apricot. This hybrid was then used to create further crosses in the late 20th century by Floyd Zaiger in the US. One such complex cross now available in the UK, is the “Pluot” whose parentage is 3/4 plum and 1/4 apricot.
Pluots (this is a registered trade name), are stated by their supplier to be known for their high sugar content, thus their sweetness, and also intense flavour. The fruit is of a medium size, to have a reddish-purple smooth skin like a plum and very sweet red flesh. It is claimed that pluots will produce fruit ready to harvest in mid-August, in 3 to 5 years. They should be planted in a sunny sheltered position. It is claimed to be a naturally small tree, but my experience is that it is rather vigorous and needs heavy pruning to prevent it getting too big. If left unpruned, it might quickly reach 5 m.
There is some doubt at the moment as to how they will do in the North of the UK.
I am now trialing Pluot Flavour King in the North of the UK and will let you know in 2 or 3 years the result of the trial. If you can grow plums, then it is likely that you will be able to grow pluots.
Pluots are certainly hardy in Glasgow having sailed through the hardest Winter and Spring in living memory. They must also be the earliest stone fruit to flower and come into leaf. In Glasgow, they were flowering at the same time as Blackthorn and two weeks before the plums. If frost is forecast, consider covering overnight with fleece to prevent frost damage to the flowers.
As pluots appear to be only partially self-fertile, a plum flowering at the same time might aid pollination of the pluot, but there is likely to be very little overlap of the flowering period for pluot and plum. As there are unlikely to be any bees about, some hand pollination would be advisable to increase the setting of the fruit.
Pluots will ripen mid-August in Glasgow, so possibly earlier in the South of the UK. The individual fruits are about 4.5 cm in diameter, heart shaped with deep reddish-purple skin and flesh. The intense taste is a very sweet combination of plum with a hint of apricot.
They are also known as “inter specific” hybrids, being crosses between related but different types of fruit. An aprium is a hybrid being 75% apricot and 25% plum. Apparently, it looks and tastes like an apricot with a touch of plum flavour, and was developed Floyd Zaiger in California.
I have recently seen aprium trees for sale in the UK.