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13/07/2014 at 15:42

In early spring I planted two bare-root plum trees - one Opal, one Marjorie's Seedling, sold as 2 year bush plants. They're planted in the front lawn, with mulch mats around the base. One of them started sprouting leaves quite early and seemed healthy, but now many of the leaves are turning yellow and dropping off. Also the ends of each branch looks almost like something has eaten the growing tip off, but it's the same on every branch.

http://s4.gardenersworld.com/uploads/images/original/52345.jpg?width=640&height=350&mode=max

 

http://s4.gardenersworld.com/uploads/images/original/52346.jpg?width=425&height=350&mode=max

 The second plum tree took much longer to start growing, and the leaves when they came didn't look healthy, kind of curled and sometimes mottled yellow. Newer growth looks healthier. It also produced some blossom in late June so is clearly a bit confused.

http://s4.gardenersworld.com/uploads/images/original/52347.jpg?width=640&height=350&mode=max

 

http://s4.gardenersworld.com/uploads/images/original/52348.jpg?width=425&height=350&mode=max

 Is this just normal stress for a newly planted tree or are they struggling to be established, or suffering from over or underwatering or lack of food or something else? 

Soil here is quite heavy clay. I have been watering them regularly especially when the weather is hot and dry.

Embarrassingly enough, I can't remember which one is the Opal and which the Marjorie's Seedling!

Any advice appreciated. 

13/07/2014 at 16:03

They don't look too bad to me Jonathan and are probably still establishing.  I recommend feeding them in late Winter by lifting the mulch matting and sprinkling a couple of handfuls of fish, blood and bone around the base, then a 2-4 inch layer of compost (prevent that from touching the trunk though.)  I'm not a great believer in using matting - a covering of compost topped with chipped bark would be healthier for them.  Grass will compete heavily with a young tree so it's important to keep a circle of about 3 feet diameter clear of grass and weeds.

13/07/2014 at 17:01

Okay thanks, it's my first time having a garden and trying things like growing fruit trees, so I may be a little over-nervous of things going wrong! The mulch mats are pretty much at the end of their useful life, not least due to some local fox-cubs using them as playthings, so the compost and chipped bark is a good idea.

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