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PLUM TREE PESTS AND DISEASES


Plum trees are one of the more resilient fruit trees and if the are given good care then they will most likely remain unaffected by pests and diseases.

Like all plants however things can go wrong and this page is designed to help you identify what the problem is and the best method of dealing with it.

Because plum trees can deal with a good amount of neglect many of the problems are associated with old age. Another cause of problems with plum trees is frost. Plant them in a frost pocket and the tree will survive but fruit will suffer.

PLUM SAWFLY

The picture on the left / above shows the damage done to plums by the plum sawfly. From the outside the plum looks OK, may be a small brown mark on the skin but nothing more. But inside, the plum is completely inedible.

In spring the sawfly emerges from the soil and lays eggs on the blossom of plum trees. When the plums begin to develop the little caterpillars eat their way into the centre of the plum and feed off it as the plum develops.

Plum Sawfly is difficult to control using organic methods, the only one being available is a pheromone trap which goes some way to controlling the disease.

Look for the giveaway brown mark on fruits and when they are forming pick the fruit off and burn them, this will help in controlling the disease next year. Burn any fallen fruit which is unusable.

The chemical deltamethrin sprayed when the blossom is falling off will definitely help control sawfly.

APHIDS


Plum trees are often attacked by aphids and the first signs are young leaves curling up. They are not normally discoloured just curled. If you uncurl the leaf the aphids will be seen inside - small green, white or light brown insects. By themselves they probably won't cause too much damage but often they secrete a sticky juice which attracts unwanted diseases.

We have written a whole page on identifying and treating aphids and it can be found here. Follow that advice and almost certainly your plum tree will live through the attack with no bad side-effects.

NEW ARTICLE - JAPANESE MAPLE TREES
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PINK MAGGOTS INSIDE PLUMS

This is caused by the caterpillar of the plum moth and makes the fruit totally inedible. It's a particularly difficult pest to identify unless you cut a plum open, or worse still bite into an affected plum. You will see a pinkish small caterpillar / maggot inside with brown stuff in the hole it has made inside the plum - that's its excrement! Other signs are dried drops of gum which form near the entry hole, premature fruit drop and discolouration of the plums.

There are chemical sprays which may help (use your favourite search engine to find one) but there is nothing that could convince me to spray chemicals over plums and then eat them. The alternative is the plum moth pheromone trap which attracts the male moths. The moths then stick onto the trap thus reducing the population of male moths. If you try this method follow the instructions exactly for the best effect.

Both Czar and Victoria plum trees seem to be particularly vulnerable to plum moth attack, other varieties less so. The lifecycle of this pest starts in May when the female moths lay eggs on the underside of growing plums. The eggs hatch and then dig into the plum and feed on it. When fully developed the caterpillar comes out from the plum and builds itself a small cocoon where it pupates (changes) into a fully grown moth. Favourite places for doing this are under cracks in the bark or on the soil below the tree.