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Thread: Have I killed my plum tree?

  1. #1
    Pinklilly is offline Germinator
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    Default Have I killed my plum tree?

    Hello.
    I'm new and I'm sorry to jump straight in and ask for advice I've been lurking for a while and you all seem a lovely bunch.
    I have a Victoria plum tree I'm sure it's St.Julien, I planted it about three years ago it was a twig in a bag and it's grown well and last year I got about 20 plums.
    This year it's been brutalised, by pigeons aphids and my stupid self.
    The aphids caused curly leaf and sooty mould
    The pigeons practically decimated the leaves on the tree, and I saw the branches were crossing and rubbing so after reading infection would set in I realised it would have to be pruned. All I will say about that is there are now those awful water sprouts everywhere and I feel I committed a horrible crime I'm furious with myself and so sad for my tree.
    I'm a complete novice, any info I've added above is from research on what could be going on.
    There are new leaves on the tree, mostly where all the shoots are and the older leaves are wilting oh and I also chased a beige coloured moth away yesterday. Winter moth?
    Is there any advice anyone can give please? I'm so attached to my tree I don't want to lose it. I put some blood fish and bone down yesterday I'm hoping that's a step in the right direction? I have never sprayed with anything just fairy liquid to kill the aphids.
    Will I spray my tree with something?
    Like I say I'm a novice, I've never had a tree and decided to go for a plum after reading they thrive on neglect.
    Thanks in advance to anyone who gets through all I've written and for any advice.
    I can send pics of the tree tomorrow if needed.

  2. #2
    Mark_Riga is offline Tuber
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    Default

    Hello and welcome, I doubt you have killed it but not sure how you would need to treat the thin shoots. I've had a Victoria plum for over 10 years and it has always had loads of fruit - until this year when it has been attacked by pigeons. They seemed to me to be going for the fruitlets on it rather than the leaves so I won't be having many plums this year. Any remaining ones (there are a few) will likely be found by the fruit moth caterpillar. If you find out how to deter pigeons (other than with a gun), I'd be very interested to learn.
    If I were you, I would leave it now to fix itself for a bit, particularly if you took of any amount of branches and when you are able to post pictures on here (after a few more posts not sure how many.), someone would be able to advise on what pruning, if any is needed and when.
    Pinklilly likes this.

  3. #3
    Pinklilly is offline Germinator
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    Thanks so much for the reply. I've had pigeons attack it every year but this years been really bad I'm sure they let each other know what's where. I've tried cds tied to the branches but it didn't work do you know they actually wait for me to go back in the house to come back! I see them from the kitchen window sitting on the fence waiting for me to disappear! I don't want to harm anything with net so I'm at a loss.
    I have about 6 plums on my tree that aren't really growing but I had loads of blossom.
    I will leave it alone for now, from what I've read so far I've "topped" my tree, and I cut at least half of the tree away and to think I was pleased with myself thinking I'd done a good job.

  4. #4
    nickdub is offline Early Fruiter
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    Default

    As far as the water shoot growth goes its hard to be specific without a photo, but if it was my tree I'd determine which 4 or 5 main shoots look best placed to form a good structure in future years and then snap the tops off the rest by hand - the idea being to encourage the shoots you want to become good and strong while discouraging the others, so you don't end up with a "hedge" - the whole lot can be tidied up a bit more in the winter by pruning out unwanted shoots altogether at that time.
    BUFFS and Pinklilly like this.

  5. #5
    Pinklilly is offline Germinator
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    Hi thanks for the reply.
    Is it ok to do this in winter? And do you mean by leaving one do you mean this will become the main stem again of the tree? And do I do the same all over the tree?
    As soon as I can post photos I will, the tops of all the branches look like Pom poms! Or if you imagine a poodles tail with the big bobbly but on the end I hope you get what I mean. I did say I was a novice I feel quite silly 😊
    Thank you for the advice and replies I really do appreciate it. Oh I have another question, it's about ten feet from my neighbours fence and garden, is it likely the roots will cause any damage to his garden or fence? I just found out the roots spread to 4 metres so now I'm panicking about that.
    I honestly thought I could just plant a tree and keep it short if I wanted and had no idea about root spread. I've learned from this and hopefully my tree will be alright.

  6. #6
    nickdub is offline Early Fruiter
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    You're very welcome - the spread of roots is roughly the same as the spread of branches, so it would take a big tree to do any damage to a garden from 10' away

    what you prune and how you do it rather depends on the type of shape you are aiming for. So for example if you want a bush type tree with a trunk and 4 or 5 main branches, you first determine what height you want the crotch of the tree to be at - that's where you prune first and where the branches start. Then you look at the growth you have and try to get 5 or so branches spread out evenly, a bit like an upside down umbrella.

    In your case the thing to avoid is leaving all the water shoots to grow on evenly - so the shoots which are roughly where you want them leave alone for now, for the others snap off the top 6 inches or so with your fingers - then come winter when the leaves are off go round with secateurs and have a bit of a tidy up - I daresay by then you will be able to post photos if you are unsure how to proceed

    Happy gardening :-)
    Pinklilly likes this.

  7. #7
    Pinklilly is offline Germinator
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    Thank you again  Sorry to be a pain but it's ok to deal with the shoots that are left in the winter I won't let in silver leaf? I don't mind the work or nurturing or doing what I can to help my tree I'm so attached to it.
    I will snap some of the roots off now and hopefully get a picture posted as I honestly don't know what and where to cut on a tree.
    I found a beetle hiding in the branches, I panicked and took it out the front garden and dumped it on the grass and immediately googled to find a pic. Turns out it's a soldier beetle and they're beneficial so I ran back out looking for it. It's gone 臘*♀️
    Scarlet and Jay22 like this.

  8. #8
    nickdub is offline Early Fruiter
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    Its sensible to be wary of silver leaf etc and if you feel it best you could wait until next Spring to tidy things up. However the risk when cutting small branches, ie around pencil thickness, back is very small, so personally I'd do it when convenient as with the leaves off its easier to see what you are up to.

    Liked the story of the beetle - most insects are neutral for plants and quite a lot of the rest are beneficial. As it is the best most people can do is to feed their trees by spreading manure around and watering them when they are young - judicious pruning is a good thing too but too little is better than too much.

    Anyway I wouldn't stress too much - fortunately trees are tough and will grow under a lot of adverse conditions.
    BUFFS and Pinklilly like this.

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