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Question from Bill McGrann


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Any help will be greatly appreciated. I have had to move two young plum trees from one garden to another, they were both growing strongly with plenty of young fruits, which I know I will lose this year. Should I prune now, and if so, how strongly? Any tips to ensure a successful transplant?
Many thanks, Bill

  • Views: 868
  • Replies: 4
  • Posted: Sat. 23rd May 2009 12:47

Transplanting plums

Reply from Kathy C

Hi, Bill! I would strongly advise against any pruning at this time. The worst time to prune deciduous trees is early spring when sap is 'moving' in the tree as temps warm up. Even though it is now late spring, I would still avoid it. In fact, I wouldn't prune at all until the tree is dormant again unless there are diseased/damaged branches that need to be removed. Transplanting is stressful on plants, especially young trees, so adding recovering from pruning wounds could be harmful. Tips to ensure successful tranplanting are:
- Transplant on a cloudy day. The less time the roots are exposed to drying sun and winds, the better.
- When digging the tree out, try to get as much root as possible. Tiny root hairs are what you want to try to retain - they grow off of the larger roots and are responsible for water intake - something the tree will need to do a lot to recover from transplanting.
- Cut any roots that are torn or damaged. It is easier for the roots to heal from clean cuts rather than torn ends.
- When digging the new hole, allow ample room to spread the roots out.
- Consider digging a square hole rather than a round one. New research at Kew suggests digging a square hole allows roots to penetrate the surrounding soil better. Make sure the sides of the hole are not smooth or 'sheared'. This can be created by the sides of the spade when digging and, especially in clay soils, can create a hard 'wall' when the soil starts to dry out. Roots can't penetrate these sides. Run a trowel or hand cultivator around the sides to rough the surface.
- Make a small mound in the centre of the hole to rest the root ball. This will ensure root to soil contact, avoiding any air pockets after planting.
- Firm the soil around the roots when you have backfilled half the hole. Do the same when the hole is filled. Firm again.
- Keep the trees irrigated (once a week) for the next month or so
- Avoid fertilising for the first month or so.
Let me know how you get on.
Kathy C

  • Posted: Sat. 23rd May 2009 19:35


Reply from Bill McGrann

Hi Kathy, Many thanks for that, I'll follow your tips and keep you posted. Bill

  • Posted: Sat. 23rd May 2009 21:26

Prune now!!

Reply from Fi

Hi Bill
and Hi Kath - first time I've disagreed with you lol!

Plums are one of the fruit trees you should prune in late spring, as if you prune in winter they are prone to silver leaf invading otherwise. So I would recommend cutting the branches down by a third, removing old and crossing branches (as all books say!) so that it can concentrate on the roots. Keep well watered, feed now and again in the autumn.
Good luck! By the way, I have 5 greengage trees and 2 damsons so do have some experience.

  • Posted: Thu. 28th May 2009 19:17

Plun pruning

Reply from Bill McGrann

Hello Fi, Very many thanks for that advice, the two trees are looking a little sorry for themselves after having been so rudely uprooted! will try to revive them with a little pruning as you suggest

  • Posted: Sun. 31st May 2009 10:36