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Plums and Gages - Root pruning

UK Garden Centre - How to prune roots on Plum and Gage trees

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Often fan trees and indeed all type of plum tree begin to form suckers. These are shoots which arise from the roots below the scion and they must be removed. Uncover the roots around the stem and, taking care not to damage the scion, cut away the suckers with a sharp knife before covering the roots again and treading firm.
At the same time, root pruning may be done. This is the best way of restricting growth with plums, for there will be no ‘bleeding’. It is usually fan-shaped trees growing against a wall that are root-pruned. Scrape away the soil to a distance of 120-120cm (4-5ft) from the wall to uncover the roots and cut them back to about 1m (3ft) of the stem. This will encourage more fibrous roots to form. Scatter peat around the roots before replacing the soil and tread firmly. Then give the roots a good soaking.
The choice of rootstocks is not large. Bush and fan trees are grown on either Common plum or Brompton stock and standards on the Myrobolan stock. this is mostly used for heavy-bearing orchard trees such s Czar and Monarch. Owing to their ‘gumming’, plums are budded, as with roses, and not grafted. The varieties Czar, President and Marjorie’s Seedling are incompatible with Common plum stock and are budded on to Myrobolan stock.
For small gardens, the Brompton stock is best, for the trees grow steadily but come quickly into bearing and make few suckers. For Victoria, however, the Common plum is used, owing to its resistance to silver leaf disease.
Plums and gages of dwarf habit for a small garden are Jefferson, Kirke’s Blue, Early Laxton, Early Transparent and Greengage.
Plums enjoy best a heavy loam. They will grow well in a limestone soil provided there is plenty of humus present, but they require a moisture-retentive soil and one which receives plenty of nitrogen, preferably of an organic nature. In light soils, work in plenty of farmyard or poultry manure, shoddy or composted straw. At planting time, give a handful of bone meal to each tree, mixed well into the soil as it is placed over the roots. The trees should also be given a liberal mulch of organic manure in April each year, augmented by 28g (1oz) of sulphate of ammonia. Czar and Victoria are the most tolerant of adverse soil conditions and crop heavily in all years, established trees bearing 22-27kg (50-60lb).

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