Trees are always an excellent addition to the backyard. They boast wind shielding, privacy, and aesthetic benefits.
The aesthetic benefits are even more when you choose trees like the purple leaf plum tree.
It features a lovely dark red to purple foliage and gives rise to beautiful light pink flowers in the spring.
It thus makes sense that they rank high among the ornamental flowers that are now gracing people’s yards.
Did we mention that trees also produce shade? That’s yet another reason why growing this and any other tree makes sense.
But before you plant the purple leaf plum tree, it’s best that you understand the problems you are most likely to face and how you can deal with them. Let’s get into it:
What are Purple Leaf Plum Tree Problems?
Nobody wants to hear that the lovely purple leaf plum tree in their yard could be a host to many problems.
Luckily for you, this tree is quite hardy and is barely susceptible to diseases. Even so, when it does not receive the proper care, it can suffer from:
Your tree can develop cankers, mildew, or even galls. Cankers are the most common, and these can injure the tree’s woody parts, forcing it to produce a gum.
Galls are also a threat to the plant, more so the black knot galls. These disfigure the tree, and if not dealt with timely, they continue doing so and can kill it completely.
Let’s not forget about the mildew caused by the Podosphaera Oxyacanthae pathogen often seen in winter. It paves the way for mildew which makes a home on leaf surfaces, leaving behind a residue.
You may be wondering, ‘how can you stop all these fungal diseases in their tracks?’ Let’s do it one by one. To get rid of canker, you cannot rely on chemical means.
Instead, you must get rid of all the infected wood and bark through pruning. Once you get to the clean wood, you can focus on saving your plant.
For black knot, you can always use fungicides with lime sulfur or Bordeaux in their mixes. Finally, for the mildew, you can use a fungicide.
How about preventing fungal diseases? One way is by avoiding overwatering the tree. Also, ensure it has enough air circulation by not planting too many trees in the same section.
If you can control the water and air components, you will be one step closer to eliminating fungal problems.
With purple leaf plum trees, you deal with leaf spots and shothole diseases. These look similar, and telling them apart can be difficult.
They start by appearing as spots on the leaves. These spots then enlarge from the center and then become holes in the leaves.
The more of these spots that turn into holes, the harder it is for the plant to make food, and its leaves start yellowing and falling off.
Can you treat bacterial infections? These are not easy to ward off with chemicals. However, you can control their spread with some bactericides.
Your best bet lies in controlling the cause of the infection. Most people who face such infections have overfertilized their soil. It’s better to give your soil less nitrogen than to provide it with so much that the plant turns on itself.
Finally, you also need to consider the possibility of viral infections, especially the Prunus ringspot virus that affects almost all plum varieties.
It shows in the form of spots, rings, and other changes in leaf patterns. As the disease progresses, you may notice that the tree’s growth has slowed. Luckily, this infection is not as severe as a fungal one and rarely kills trees.
Is there a cure for viruses? No. Instead, the only way to deal with the problem is by controlling it.
You need to avoid overfertilizing the soil or giving it too much water. As you deal with the causes, you will notice that the tree will start looking better.
So, the signs that your tree is not doing well are:
- Spots, rings, and pattern changes on the leaves,
- Yellowing of leaves,
- Residue on the leaves,
- Stunted growth,
- Falling of immature leaves, and
- Disfigured tree growth.
Have you seen any of these telling signs in your tree?
How do you Take Care of a Purple Leaf Plum Tree?
As we have seen, the purple leaf plum tree, also known as the cherry plum tree or flowering plum tree, can get affected by some pests.
The best way to truly protect your plant is to understand it. So, let’s start with some basics.
The purple leaf plum tree, known as the Prunus Cerasifera, does not come in one variety. Instead, the following varieties fall under its umbrella:
- Newport: This variety boasts deep purple leaves in the summer, which turn reddish-purple when fall comes.
- Nigra: This tree has dark purple leaves in the summer, which are orange-red in the fall. How interesting is that?
- Purple Pony: This tree is the dwarf version of the rest and reaches about 12 feet tall on average. Widthwise, it gets to about 10 to 12 feet.
- Thundercloud: This plant features reddish-purple leaves like the Newport does in the fall.
- Krauter Vesuvius: What an interesting name! Its changes are as exciting, with dark purple leaves as it moves from spring to the fall.
Now that you can identify what variety you have at home, let’s look at how you should care for your tree.
We will cover the care tips from a general point of view, catering to each purple leaf plum tree variety. You may want to focus on your plant for an in-depth review, but not much will change.
Your tree will generally require:
- 6 or more hours of sun: This exposure should be adequate to allow the foliage to make food and allow the tree to dry and air out to avoid fungal growth.
- Well-draining soil: The plant should never be in the water for too long as it can trigger the fungal diseases earlier discussed.
- A soil pH of 6-8: The tree does best in neutral or near-neutral soil pH and will thrive better in such conditions.
- Medium watering: This hardy tree is moderately drought resistant and can go a while without water. You are better off underwatering it than you are overwatering it.
- Fertilizing 4 times a year: The tree should get fed four times a year using all-purpose food in ratios 7-4-4.
Did you know? The purple leaf plum tree can withstand cold and heat if it has enough water? It even tolerates humidity!
How do you Prune a Purple Leaf Plum Tree?
The pruning process is quite simple. You barely need to prune the tree say for if you have an issue with cankers or want to achieve a particular shape.
All you need to do is remove the dead, damaged, or infected branches using a clean cutting tool, and you will be good to go.
How Long Does a Purple Leaf Plum Tree Live?
The purple leaf plum tree does not live as long as most trees. It averages 20 years, give, or take.
So, you can expect that after putting in work into the plant, it should be around for about two decades before you need to get a replacement.
Of course, it only lasts this long when you take good care of it and watch out for any problems that could diminish its life quality. In the right conditions, it grows at a rate of one to two feet per year.
Does a Purple Leaf Plum Tree Produce Fruit?
The purple leaf plum tree gives rise to pale pink to white flowers that measure an inch across their width.
These flowers feature five petals and can form pretty small fruits, measuring about an inch in diameter.
The tree produces many of these at a time, and you should locate your tree in an area where fruit drop will not be an issue.
Even if you keep cleaning after the tree, the fruits will attract many birds and animals.
You can expect anything from foxes to rats to rabbits to raccoons to show up at your property and try to eat the fruit.
Of course, they can leave a mess behind. Always think about this when positioning the tree.
Are the fruits edible? You might be wondering if you can get some use out of the significant fruit drop. Why not? While many people view this tree as ornamental, its fruits are edible.
These ripen towards the end of summer. Unfortunately, harvesting them can be a bit of a challenge, but you will enjoy the contents once you get to them.
Please note that while the fruits are edible, the plant stems, leaves, and seeds are toxic to animals and people. The toxicity is significantly higher in wilted plant parts.
If you suspect someone of poisoning, watch out for symptoms like dilated pupils, muscle tremors, difficulty breathing, drooling, and anything else that may seem off.
The good thing is that most people will not eat its plant parts as they are bitter. But animals might, and you must protect them by keeping them away from the tree.
Final Thoughts: Purple Leaf Plum Tree Problems
Protecting your purple leaf plum tree should be much easier now that you understand how to care for it and what could affect it. Happy Gardening!
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