Sick purple cherry plum in zone 5b

I have a Purple leaf Cherry plum tree that is about 8 years old, it grows in a sandy soil, unfortunately i did not care for this tree for a number of years, it’s 8 feet tall and with a 3 inch diameter trunk, it flowers every year but the last two years it did not produce fruit, i have decided to nurse this tree to full health and water it regularly and use water soluble Fox Farm fertilizer on it in the spring, it now has new growth, but looks somewhat sick but recovering. I added magnesium and calcium around the tree twice this year. The fruit is good and i am hoping for a crop next year, does anyone have suggestions on improving the health of this tree? Also can Cherry plum be grafted to peach or apricot root stock as i have a root stocks growing ready for options. I really want to save this tree rather that cutting it down.

Hello, welcome @CoreFlexS23.

Hope your plum tree can recover. Sandy soil is said to drain fast and not retain nutrients well. General advice is to apply some compost and organic mulch on top, but keep it away from the trunk. You can also add some cheap solid fertilizer applied below the compost/mulch layer and that could help with more gradual release. Some pictures could help as well to better illustrate what you mean by “sick”.

I don’t know about your specific cultivar but I do have a “plumcot” on peach which is growing just fine. My understanding is that peaches, plums, apricots have good graft compatibility with one another.

Thanks for the advice, i will add photos tomorrow if i dont work any overtime tomorrow.

I don’t see anything wrong with the tree from pictures.

The foliage may be a little sparse, but then again, so is the grass, so it could just be how plants grow naturally at your locale, given little care.

It may also help if you give your general location (state) to help others understand your climate and growing conditions.

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I live in Indiana, we had 4 weeks without rain so things look sparse for sure, it’s that this tree stopped producing fruit for two years, had a lot of dead branches that i removed, the tree is improving with the watering and fertilizer, i guess i am doing all i can do and it is up to nature now if it produces fruit next year, i will be mulching it soon with wood chips. That all i can think of doing now.

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Cut everyting down on the outside and above the red

But that should have been done during the winter.

What you an do now is cut out around the red of one if your primary trunks during summer like now. and give the hair cut to the other trunks during winter.

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Plums fruit on young wood so cutting back young wood means no fruit.

If the trees suffered in the last year due to drought, cold, or disease, I think consistent care, watering, nutrients is what the tree needs.

Also, I can see the grass is greener where you did fertilize/water. Grass is very greedy robs resources that would otherwise go to your tree. Remove all grass directly under the canopy.

To recap…my suggestions are to remove the competing grass, add solid fertilizer (e.g., epsoma tree tone), add mulch (wood chips), and ensure your tree gets sufficient water. You have some window now to apply fertilizer. Applying too late in summer is said to cause delayed dormancy which can make the tree prone to cold damage. Best of luck.

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Thank you for your protocol for this tree, i will be doing the grass removal next week, and look into the fertilizer you suggested, i never heard adout it before. Thanks. My research on this tree is if well cared for this tree should will live 80 years. But i guess that would depend on the root stock it’s on and i do not know what that is. I plan to graft it to one of my ready and waiting root stocks, it really is a great fruit, has two flavors that present when sampled, it has both plum and cherry flavor.

Stone fruit in eastern US may be getting more disease due to humidity, so they may not last as long as one in a less disease pressured environment.

Where did you get your cherry plum tree? 8 ft tall after 8 years sounds like a dwarf to me (but maybe it’s being shaded by other taller trees?). I’m not familiar with your cultivar but sounds great to have both plum and cherry flavor. I have some other “pluerry” cultivars (Candy Heart, Flavor Punch) that are supposed to be interspecific plum-cherries, but folks didn’t report much cherry flavor.

Interesting, so i should prun heavily outside the red lines now? I may do just that, it cant hurt considering this is an unproductive tree right now and have plans to replace it next year if all attempts to turn things around fail. Thanks for your prospective on this, i didn’t consider that opinion.

After some reading, I’m thinking your plum tree could be prunus cerasifera, which goes by the name cherry plum and myrobalan plum.

I always see some “Krauter Vesuvius” cultivars for sale in springtime.

If i recall it’s from edible landscapeing and it was called a cherry plum and produces fruit slightly bigger than a cherry, it has some tartness and sweet flavor that reminds you of a mount royal plum and a semisweet cherry. I do regret not keeping up it’s watering schedule for the past 4 or 5 years. But the spot i planted it in gets full sun, but the soil is not very fertile and i should of mulched it with compost but didn’t. Even the bible talks about a fruit tree that produces no fruit and what to do about it, seems I’m on that path now. Sadly that last chance is next year.

I see, it’s probably this one below. The one they still sell is currently grafted on standard size Lovell peach, but doesn’t 100% mean yours is the same rootstock.

All Red Purple-Leaf Plum

Prunus cerasifera atropurea

A colorful landscape specimen that produces a red-fleshed fruit. David Ulmer of MS reports: “This purple-leaf selection has proven to be a prolific, tasty, disease-free variety. It’s the only plum I have that has not missed a crop in the last five years.” A decided advantage is that the fruit hides under the foliage and escapes the birds. Ripens in June and July. Self fertile Space 12’ to 14’ circle Zones 5-9.

Plant Characteristics
Pest Resistance Very Good
Disease Resistance Very Good
Drought Tolerance Good
Heat Tolerance Good
Humidity Tolerance Good
Sun Tolerance Very Good
Wet Soil Tolerance Fair
Shade Tolerance Fair
No Spray Fair
Salt Tolerance Good
Fresh for Kids Excellent
Deer Resistance Fair
Thorns No
Plant Type Tree
Soil Type Adaptable
Edible Type Fruit
Self Fertile Yes

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Yep, i recall correctly, that’s why i bought it. I recommend it because it’s flavor is unique because this cultivar keeps two flavor of the cherry and plum.

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My cherry plum is a darker red than the picture at the website, but my soil is iron rich so that may effect the color.

With the poor care this tree never had disease or pest, not a single aphids infestation and never had problems with maggots eating the fruits or birds taking them.

Sounds like a winner. Do you have other fruit trees in the vicinity?

I planted a Marty’s surprise about 15 feet away and a Stella cherry 20 feet away, in this case i dug 3x3x3 hole and layered compost and plant mater according to Ellen White’s method of planting a fruit tree. A deer eat the cherry tree’s foliage so it had to regrow it’s :leaves: leaf’s so it got a late start but is doing very good. I realized after my experience with the plum that i needed to go to the extreams to give any new fruit tree i plant a good start in life. My soil is very poor.

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That’s great. Sounds like you have it all figured out. I know the deer story way too well as I live near the wood’s edge. I wish I can convince them to leave my plants alone. I use electric fence and repellent where it’s unfenced. Still it’s a huge challenge to guard against deer, especially when deer are very hungry.

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