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A Mysterious Turn for the Worse on a Plum Tree

A Mysterious Turn for the Worse on a Plum Tree

Old 03-21-07, 09:04 AM
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Question A Mysterious Turn for the Worse on a Plum Tree

I planted a Methly Plum tree in my backyard around 2 months ago. I made a nice soil bed for it, massaged the roots, planted it, used transplant liquid for a few weeks, gave it some fertilizer spikes and then a shake of fertilizer granules. After that it sprouted well with many rich green leaves. I re-did the soil around the tree a few weeks ago, gave it one more shake of fertilizer as the granules became pretty dispersed and put mulch around the tree.

About a week ago the leaves on the tips of the tree started shriveling and now they are now brown and the green hue is draining out of a lot of the leaves and turning yellow. It hasnít yet blossomed.

It was flourishing, but now appears sick.

We have had good rain in my town and I water every other day. I donít think it is over-watering as other fruit trees I planted at the same time are doing fine.

The neighborís cats do occasionally use the mulch as a litter box. Can cat urine cause this sudden change?

Does it sound like I maybe over fertilized?

The soil I have been working with appears to be very good (although I havenít yet checked itís PH) but I put the tree in a bed of garden soil and quality mulch.

The soil has a few grubs, but it doesn't appear to be significant. There are some ants crawling up the tree, but it isnít an infestation.

Any suggestions or help here?
Old 03-24-07, 01:52 PM
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Methley plums need moisture, but can not tolerate water logged soil. You report 'good rain' and 'water every other day.' Stick your finger down in the soil. If it's moist, do not water. If in doubt, do not water. If you have not had an inch of water in 10 days, then you need to soak water the tree. Overwatering prevents the development of healthy roots. Roots will grow long and strong as they search for moisture in the soil. Too much water can kill the tree.

Too much fertilizer will burn the roots and kill the tree. It's best to fertilize trees based on a soil sample test. A common recommendation is to fertilize plum trees twice a year, applying 10-10-10 or 5-10-10 in early spring, about a month before bloom, and again in midsummer. Many fruit growers scatter fertilizer only once in spring, recommending a light hand and scattering it like you would chicken feed. Too much fertilizer also stimulates too much growth at the expense of fruit. Some do not recommend fertilizing until the tree starts bearing.

Your local cooperative extension service agent is a wealth of free gardening advice. He should be able to provide you info on growing fruit trees, including a schedule for your area for pruning, spraying, fertilizing, watering.

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