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How can I tell whether my fruit trees in containers are too dry or over-watered?

(19 Posts)
Luckygirl3 Mon 04-Jul-22 18:30:25

Just that really - they are about 4' tall - a cherry and a plum and they look slightly droopy in spite of the fact that I have been diligently watering them. They have both fruited, but the high winds recently have caused most of the fruit to drop.

More water or less?

Kim19 Mon 04-Jul-22 18:37:17

I tend to water them from be!ow. That way they can absorb at their own pace and I simply top up when necessary.

Casdon Mon 04-Jul-22 18:38:58

Fruit trees do always drop some immature fruit in June Luckygirl, it’s to ensure the health of the remaining fruit, it’s actually known as June drop. It’s more likely that than the wind, so as long as the leaves look healthy there’s most likely nothing amiss with your trees.

Luckygirl3 Mon 04-Jul-22 18:51:36

Ah - can't water from below, unless I lift the containers up and they are very large - they are on gravel.

Callistemon21 Mon 04-Jul-22 19:35:27

Our plum trees are in the ground and we had a reasonable crop last year although it's a young tree.
This year none of the blossom set and we will have no plums.

Mollygo Mon 04-Jul-22 20:32:47

We will have, at current count, 19 plums. I was giving them away last year!

Esmay Thu 07-Jul-22 09:53:48

Casden is so right with her comment :

I had June drop with my potted fruit trees .
I planted them out though they are little crowded .

Are your fruit trees self pollinators ?
It doesn't happen as much .

I find that all potted plants require extra care .
I'm making a comparison with my plants that are planted out and those which are potted .
This weekend I'm getting the right compost in for a major repotting when the weather is cool .

Both overwatering and underwatering can cause leaves to droop .
Does the water drain away nicely ?
And so can well meant overfertilising .

Measure out your water in a watering can rather than using a hose.

And keep a notebook so you can record your efforts .

Good luck .

midgey Thu 07-Jul-22 10:11:50

Surely if the trees are in pots they will drain anyway. I would say with the amount of wind we have had your trees need much more water.

Esmay Thu 07-Jul-22 12:27:27

Look out for a thick crust on top of your pots - a previously applied mulch can become a hard barrier - so that water isn't penetrating .

Also check for moss growing - if present then the water is not draining away properly .

Luckygirl3 Thu 07-Jul-22 12:34:03

Thanks for all the tips. I have had fruit - quite a lot of cherries for a tiny tree (about 25), and loads of plums which mostly got blown off in the high winds.

There is no moss on the surface of the compost in the pots and sometimes the top feels very dry and pulls away from the edges - from which evidence I presume it is too dry. But I am also aware that too much water is not good!

Luckygirl3 Thu 07-Jul-22 12:35:08

The reason I am wondering whether there is too much/little water is that the leaves are drooping.

Casdon Thu 07-Jul-22 12:45:54

I’ve got trees in pots Luckygirl, and Monty Don’s advice is what I’m following - water the tree only once a week, but completely soak the compost until it runs out of the bottom of the pot, which encourages the tree to put its roots downwards instead of near the surface. I do water twice a week if it’s really dry, but still do the same method.

Farmor15 Thu 07-Jul-22 12:46:51

I'd suspect that most of the water is just running out the bottom and they are suffering from lack of water, even if being watered frequently. Unfortunately, when some composts dry out, it's hard to get them to absorb water again. If you can put your fingers a few inches down in the pots, you can feel if the compost is damp. Assuming the pots have drain holes in the bottom, it would be pretty impossible to overwater.
Is there any way of getting large trays to put under the pots, and then get someone to lift them on? That way you can see if there is enough water - the excess will collect in tray and can gradually soak up into pot.

aggie Thu 07-Jul-22 12:53:11

If the compost has dried out the water runs out of the bottom of the pot as fast as I pour it in , I give it a good watering , then come back and pour in some more , this weather , sun , drying wind , it’s impossible to overwater

Annaram1 Thu 07-Jul-22 12:53:51

Slightly away from topic how do I know when my figs are ready?

Casdon Thu 07-Jul-22 12:57:50

Have you got your trees planted in just compost *aggie? Mine are in garden soil with just a bit of compost mixed in. It retains the moisture better, so the water doesn’t run out from the bottom until soaked, and soil is also more solid so they don’t rock in the wind - another tip I picked up from GW. I too dress with fertiliser each year, and the worms drag it down.

Esmay Thu 07-Jul-22 17:59:30

Another good point mentioned here .
You might have too much compost in your pots .
I suggest repotting in the autumn and using more topsoil than compost .

Esmay Thu 07-Jul-22 18:01:15

Hi Annaraml .
Figs are ready when they droop a bit and are soft to touch .

Luckygirl3 Fri 08-Jul-22 14:58:29

I drenched them yesterday evening and they are looking much chirpier this morning!