Plum tree that has fruited and now looks like it is about to die

Hello all,

I'm new to the site and a little new to gardening so please bear with me image

I have recently taken ownership of a garden with a Victoria Plum tree in it. The neighbours have been extolling its' virtues and indeed it fruited very heavily and gave some amazing fruit for jams and chutneys. As the last plum was picked, two weeks ago it just sort of gave up the ghost. The leaves are drying and falling off in droves and there are some nasty spots all over them which are very fine but profuse. Generally it looks spent and I don't blame it, it has worked very hard. Is it suffering with something or is this normal?  Do I feed it, nurse it better or just prune it. Please advise as very worried about it. Thank you


  • pansyfacepansyface PEAK DISTRICTPosts: 10,597

    Hello Molly. You are lucky to have inherited a plant that is worth owning. So often the previous owner leaves behind a pup.

    First of all, which part of the country do you live in? Summers are longer or shorter, warmer or cooler depending on that and it could affect what is going on with your tree.

    Secondly, plums should only be pruned when they are actively putting on growth. They make a clear gum which acts as a sort of pruning sealant at that time. Any other time and they are prone to catching a disease called silver leaf, which is not good. So don't prune the tree until next summer.

    Thirdly, plums more than most fruit trees have good, prolific and bad, lazy years. As you say, yours is maybe a bit tired by now and feeling like taking a rest.

    Is the tree growing in grass or in a flower bed?

    Is there any chance of a photo of the whole tree and one of a leaf? That way someone will be able to identify your problem better.

    Apophthegm -  a big word for a small thought.
  • Hi Molly I have a pear tree it must be 7/8 yrs old now it did fruit but the birds saw them off before they had time to develop and all the leaves ended up as you described so in frustration I cut the hole tree down to 15inches above the graft last year and this it has sent out 3 side shoots that are now 20inches long so now I will have to wait to see what will become of them I am not saying you do the same. good luck john.

  • Hello Pansyface and John

    Yes very lucky to have this tree left for me. I have feeling it has been there for a few years but neither of the last two owners have bothered with it at all. In fact it looked quite badly hacked back when I moved into the house in January. It has always given a huge crop of plums despite not being looked after. I live in South West London and on the road I live on we have a little bit of a micro climate. The tree gets a lot of sun from morning until around lunchtime and then the sun moves to another part of the garden.  The tree is growing in a flower bed. There used to be a small willow next to it but I had it taken out as it was also very badly pruned and just squeezed in between the plum and an Apricot tree and it was wasn't getting any light. I have had the garden landscaped a little so there is two brick wall now and the tree is sitting in a slightly raised bed. Maybe the fact that the willow has gone and that there was a lot of building around it might have upset it.  The Apricot tree is super old and has canker but surprisingly it has healthy leaves and is growing fast despite the canker. Is it possible that the Apricot has given the plum the same Canker as they are reasonably close together. Also I looked up some pics of various diseases on plum trees and i can see that the tree almost certainly had Brown Rot on some of the plums which I removed from the tree immediately. Also the leaves do look like they have Plum Rust so maybe the tree had or still has both of these diseases? I will take pictures tomorrow . You will see how sad the tree looks. Its branches are very brittle and break easily too. Thanks for listening and catch up tomorrow. Best wishes

  • Hi Molly I have a similar problem. The plum tree has fruited prolificly and now looks rough.It has some canker. The leaves have had plum rust and the remaining fruits are rotting. I will remove them. I know it should not be pruned now. It is probably weather related (the rust) but I want to know if it can benefit from some kind of fertiliser now?

    Can anyone recommend anything or just remove rotten fruit and water well?


    With kind regards


  • Hi thank you for the advice. I will clear up and leave the fertiliser until feb. The canker is minor and it has been heavily cropping, hopefully, not a dying swan song!

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