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Cordons are a practical way to enjoy heavy crops of plums, in a compact form. Grown against walls or used to create ‘rooms’, cordons can be an attractive design feature within the garden.
©Gerry Edwards Plum cordon in blossom
Plum cordons are excellent for the small garden. They are simply single-stemmed fruit trees with short sideshoots (fruiting spurs).
Any plum cultivars can be grown as cordons by using the dwarfing rootstock ‘Pixy’, but the best results are from those cultivars which are naturally compact such as ‘Early Laxton’, ‘Czar’ and ‘Blue Tit’.
Cordons can be planted and trained obliquely or vertically. The oblique cordon is preferable as it encourages the production of sideshoots. If you are growing more vigorous cultivars, double and triple cordons are a better choice of form.
The angle of the main stem slows the movement of sap and encourages more even growth.
The pruning of cordons is carried out to concentrate growth into fruit buds and maintain a manageable tree.
Prune established plum cordons in summer (July to August): they should never be pruned in the dormant season because of the risk of silver leaf infection.
Keep an eye out for the following problems;
More generally, diseases such as silver leaf, bacterial canker and pocket plum can affect plums.
Plum aphids and plum moth are also troublesome.
Apples and pears: growing and training as cordonsApples: stepover (horizontal cordon) trainingFan-trained trees: initial trainingFan-trained trees: established treesPlum aphidsPlum mothPlums, gages and damsons: choosing cultivarsPlums: pruningPocket plumSilver leaf
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