August Fruit Tree Care

plum blossom on the move

If you blink you’ll miss it! The early plums are on the move, brewing up another batch of beautiful blossom. For those of you pondering copper sprays – this is your sign to get ready, the moment is nigh.

Take a quiet wander in your fruit trees to see which trees are beginning to roll into action.

The they get a little glow on as the energy starts to move and the buds start to swell. Such a subtle shift as the buds fatten, then swell enough to show a slither of pink or white and then suddenly boom! There it is! Blossom!

plum trees coming into blossom

If you feel you need copper because of a serious fungal issue of one variety or other last season, watch closely and be ready to act. The window of opportunity is small. It creeps up, then is gone.

Clean out your backpack sprayer. Buy in copper.

When To Copper

apple blossom

Copper is super toxic to bees so it’s really important you’ve done your spraying before blossom o’ clock. Spray while the buds are still closed but just beginning to swell and before the pink is showing. Do a second spray a fortnight later.

Fungicide In Action

Copper is a fungicide. It wipes out the beneficial fungi as well as the bad.

Don’t tie yourself in moral knots here, just do the thing that needs to be done. If fungal problems weigh heavy in your trees, you are smart to manage them with copper because fungal problems get a foothold in your orchard and are hard to shift naturally. Go ahead and copper, while at the same time take steps to build and improve your orchard system.

Copper Free: My Healthy Fruit Tree Game Plan

tamaki plum fruiting at ediblebackyard

It took about 5 years to get my orchard to this place of balance and strength. I’m not foolish enough to yell hurrah! I made it! – always journeying my friends. A slight rise or fall in temperature, more than usual rainfall, hotter/ drier – all these changes add extra pressure to our trees.

Robust health is a management thing and a steady building that compensates for big crops and stressful seasons. Read all about my healthy fruit tree game plan here.


  1. Good morning! I recently purchased a lifestyle block, most of which is old orchard. I’ve spotted an avocado tree. Unfortunately it has grown in between a large old plum. And All the foliage is is about 15 foot high. Any suggestions as to how I could promote some new growth nearer to ground? Should I take out the plum to give the avo a chance? Oh how I would love to grow my own avos!

    • I can relate to the wish for Avo’s! but gosh without seeing it Gus I cannot possibly advise. Check out my “how to prune an Avocado” post ok (search it up on my website) and perhaps also “How much space do my fruit trees need” blog as well. The thing is all sorts of strange and unusual spacings and combinations work well – depending on where you live as to available light to your plum/ avo situation will the a big determining factor re amount of fruits. Have fun! Kath

  2. Kia ora Kath!
    I have continued to have leaf curl issues and was very keen on trying out the apple cider vinegar remedy you have mentioned in the past. My question is… would this replace the need to copper/sulphur spray at this time of the year? And what is the right time to start using ACV on the trees?

    • Great question Sue. You can do them altogether if you wish. When the foliage comes in, begin your ACV. Keep building your orchard area – it is but young. Also those trees were pretty hammered when you began if I remember rightly so it may even be a case of letting go – something to sit with anyway.

  3. Hi Kath

    Far out, fruit trees need way more care than I ever thought!
    I have a Hawera plum tree which had a moderately alarming infestation of Plum Tree Aphid last summer. Am I too late to do a bare tree spray, and if not, what would you recommend I use?


    • Aphids wont be helped by lime sulfur Rachel – these are fungicides for fungal issues only. Hop onto the biological spray section and read through – adding Neem will help your cause as will a booming population of beneficial insects.

  4. Can I safely spray my citrus tree which are a fruiting. Do they need regular spraying and if so how often. Thanks.

  5. Melissa Savage says

    Kia ora Kath
    Love all your advice and I’ve inherited well developed fruit trees (about six years old) so our first full summer here last year and there were huge numbers of Louisa plums but sadly the tree is right in the middle of the vegetable garden! so most of my veges got no sunlight and didn’t produce well. I’m a pretty new gardener but I can see how much shade the tree gives out in the height of summer. A number of people say I should chop it down (it’s a little smaller than the one in your photo on this page) but I was wondering if I could just try chopping it right back but I don’t want to kill it.
    Appreciate any advice – there’s a nectarine tree close by about the same size as well . . .

    • Ha! Curly! Gotta love a well thought out garden layout 🙂
      You could for sure try prune your plum in a way that lets enough light through. My pick (without seeing it) would be to remove lower branches. Watch the play of light through the seasons. You can prune the odd bits and pieces during summer as the shadow becomes evident. The other hold up here will the tree roots. Some vege are fine but others not so. Potatoes, pumpkins, zuchinni, leafy greens all suit this zone perfectly well because they are shallow rooted and low growing and you can create a no dig zone so as not to disturb shallow feeder roots.
      Perhaps you grow some with the plum and create another vegie growing area north of the tree in the light.
      Or move the entire vegie growing area elsewhere.
      Another option is to get another Luisa plum growing in a more suited place and in 4 years when it starts fruiting remove the original.

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