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03/06/2014 at 09:50

We took over a very overgrown garden last year - cleared out conifer but left fruit trees even though we were not sure whether they were still alive.  Most have come into leaf, but I suspect they may have issues.  One Plum on the land behind us is quite close to my new native hedge - one hedging whip has started to get very shrivelled leaves at the top of the whip and I want to nip this in the bud before it spreads.

Can anyone recommend a spray I can use on these old trees to control many of the common diseases - caused by the area being overgrown and overshadowed by 30' conifers for years.

Any other advice would be gratfully received.

03/06/2014 at 09:56

HD...........perhaps if you posted photos of the affected trees, someone may be able to help you.

It would be better to id the problem/pest before you spray anything I think

03/06/2014 at 10:01

My gut feeling, without seeing the trees, is that it's not a spray that the trees need - you've done half the job by removing conifers and allowing sunlight and fresh air to get to them.  The conifers will also have dried out the soil and robbed it of nutrients.

Remove grass and other plants from around each tree trunk leaving bare earth diam. 3ft.  Feed with Fish Blood & Bone (according to directions on pack) now, again in August and October.  Watering it in (3 buckets full per tree) and mulching each tree with organic material, well-rotted manure, garden compost etc.  Don't let it touch the tree trunks. 

Prune out any dead, diseased or crossing branches to open them out and let the air get to the centre of the trees.  Do the pruning this month and this will help avoid any plum or cherry trees from contracting silver leaf disease.

This will enable the trees to grow healthily and they'll be more resistant to any pests and diseased there are around.

I'm sure someone more knowledgeable than me will come along soon and give you more specific pruning advice to encourage fruiting etc. 

Hope that's helpful 

03/06/2014 at 10:12

Someone more knowledgeable than you,Dove?  Surely not!  Anyway I agree with all that

Shrivelled leaves on plum trees could be causd by an infestation of aphids.  Ladybirds and hoverflies are what you want there - encourage the latter with nectar-rich flowers like pot marigolds and poached-egg plant.  In the meantime you could pinch out the worst affected twigs and burn them.  Or it could be peach leaf curl, about which I know hardly anything.

I'm sure you'll be highly delighetd with the plums eventually!

03/06/2014 at 10:14

If you planted a wildlife hedge you've made an excellent start. Don't spoil your efforts by getting the sprays out

03/06/2014 at 10:57

Steve, I used to live in a village surrounded by commercial orchards and fruit growers so when my fruit trees needed pruning a very knowledgeable and experienced chap in the village would do them for me - now I'm having to learn how to do it myself - John Cushnie's book How to Prune is my bible 

03/06/2014 at 11:18

Dove, I wished you lived nearer, you could come and do mine.  My apple tree is very sad, it still has apples on (at the moment) but is sad with lots of brown leaves and I don't know where to start....or should I say I'm scared to in case I do it wrong and kill it, it's a lovely big old apple tree 

03/06/2014 at 11:28

TLC OL, food and water - most oldies don't have enough of either if they're left to their own devices - humans and fruit trees that is 

03/06/2014 at 11:33

Ha ha Dove  Should I dig out a 'border' around the tree do you think as at the moment it is grassed right up to the tree......I can't feed it with grass there can I? (Answer - no you can't Tracey, you need to tell OH that in order to save the tree it needs some grass removing all around it )

03/06/2014 at 12:02

I bought two dwarf fruit trees which were bare rooted, they seemed to do well until last week when I noticed what I can only describe as leaf curl. One tree isa cherry and the other is plum, they look healthy with no other signs of distress, am I being paranoid?

 Hope I have given enough of a description.


03/06/2014 at 13:23

As above, either aphids or peach leaf curl at a guess, Annie.

I might have to get that book, Dove.  I used to love his contributions to GQT.I can do basic pruning, OL, and not that far away.

03/06/2014 at 14:54

Whereabouts are you Steve?  I might try and have a go.....I'm just scared LOL!

03/06/2014 at 20:53

A friend who was part of the trre team in the woods, told me.  When pruning fruit trees.  Apart from cutting back damaged and wasted growth.  Always make sure.  That when finished.  You can stand back and throw your cap through the center of the crown.

By doing this, you will not only tidy up the tree, but you will lighten up the interior.

03/06/2014 at 20:59

Yes Mike, I heard something similar: a bird should be able to fly through the middle.

Liverpool.  However, I suspect (somene who knows would be useful) that now is not the time.  As I say, I can do the basics but not tried summer pruning yet, although I shall be having a go at an espalier next week.  You probably won't want me to experiment on yours!

I doubt if you can go wrong if you start by cutting out dead and diseased branches first; I daresay that can be done now. Then do the crossing ones that clutter up the middle.

03/06/2014 at 21:47

I'll start with the 'dead' stuff then, there doesn't seem to be any apples on those bits anyway and the apples are still growing well on the healthy bits.  I can't wait for next spring now to see if it's going to be ok....not happy at the moment with it 

04/06/2014 at 10:19

Thanks for the comments guys.  The hedge whips are only 2 or 3 years old and bought bare root and planted last autumn (November).  We dug a trench, put in commercially bought 'black gold' well rotted compost, soil and then mulched with charcoal from a bonfire we had to put out early.  I watered through the winter and to date have only lost 1 whip out of 200!!  The hedge is a mix of Blackthorn, Hawthorn, Field Maple, Wild Cherry, Dog Rose and Hazel.

Two weeks ago I watered and then remulched with the' black gold' in preparation for a (hopefully) dry summer.  Someone suggested I may have given the hedge too many nutrients, but the torrential rain we have had recently may have mitigated that slightly if that is the case.

This is the only whip affected at present and there is a young wild plum close to the boundary nearby which made me wonder if that was affecting it.  Obviously I need to get on top of this before it spreads.  I am thinking of digging it up, replacing with another (I have some spares to fill any gaps) and cutting out the problem, potting it up and watching what happens.  I can also watch the progress of the newly planted one for a repeat which would tell me its the position not the plant.


04/06/2014 at 10:56

Something's blurred. Is it my eyes or that photo

It looks more like an infestation than a disease. have you poked around to see if there are aphids or other visitors. That curled look is very familiar to me

My feeling is not to worry. If you have native hedging you have native insects which support all the other native insects and birds and so on up the food chain

04/06/2014 at 20:23

Thanks Steve no aphids on any of the leaves so I will keep an eye on them for now.


09/06/2014 at 15:30

There is a similar thing going on with the young fruit tree branching over the top and one or two other whips are showing weird growth - like a hawthorn whip which is throwing out lots and lots of leaves out of its stem - but no branches.


Hopefully clearer photo attached

09/06/2014 at 15:55


If there is no aphids involved the only thing I can come up with is Contaminated ground which has stunted the growth or some unintentional weedkiller has landed on it, sorry mate I cant be more conclusive

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