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Plum and damson trouble

I hope someone can advise me on planting plum or damson or greengage trees.

I planted a damson tree which suddenly died after about 4 years, then a plum tree which died after 2 years within about a meter of the first planting. I dug down about 3 feet to see if the roots were having a problem and found a lot of old rubble and removed all of the old bricks etc. from the ground (obviously dumped by a previous occupant). Thinking all was well I planted yet another plum tree which lasted only one season.

Do plum/damsons suffer from a “sickness” if planted near to a previous planting much like roses do? I would love a beautiful plum or greengage tree but this struggle for success is becoming very expensive in lost plants and confidence.

Thanks for any help


  • pansyfacepansyface PEAK DISTRICT DerbyshirePosts: 17,999
    Never heard of sickness in plums.

    But I have heard of unscrupulous sellers of topsoil offloading polluted soil onto unsuspecting customers.

    If the soil was ever treated with sodium chlorate (used as a weedkiller in years gone by) it will poison anything that is planted in it, even now. Nasty, indiscriminate, poisonous stuff.

    Get the soil analysed, if you can, to see if a problem is revealed that way.
    Apophthegm -  a big word for a small thought.
  • Digging-itDigging-it Posts: 67
    That’s an idea Pansyface, but I also have a cherry, 2 apple and a pear tree in the same part of my garden and all are doing well and there’s nothing to indicate that the soil is contaminated. My garden runs alongside a field and I thought the plum/damson trees may have caught some drifting weed killer from the field but again nothing else in the garden shows that could be the problem, even the hawthorn hedge inbetween is fine.

    I think I’ll dig up the last dead plum tree and inspect it’s roots, perhaps that’ll give a clue as to why they don’t thrive. Each Spring the trees went into leaf only for them to curl up in the summer, drop off and eventually the branches die off. Could it be bugs on the leaves?

  • Digging-itDigging-it Posts: 67
    Hello Pansyface, thought I’d let you know what was wrong with my plum tree. Finally got around to digging it up a couple of weeks ago, and all the roots were in a tight ball. I remembered that I bought the tree from our allotment society and quickly plonked it in a large pot, put it at the end of the garden ready to go in the ground (when I got around to it.... big mistake!) and promptly forgot about it...not just a senior moment but a senior year. I now recall that I planted it in the ground the following year and noticed that some roots were quite tight and bundled together, obviously they remained that way and never grew into the surrounding soil.
    However some new shoots were starting to grow from the root stock so perhaps I might be more successful if I try again with a bare rooted tree and plant it immediately after purchase.
    thanks again for your suggestion but looks like the problem was of my own making! Doh!
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