Fruit tree leaf loss & yellowing

Dear Lynn

I have 4 different fruit trees (Apple, Pear, Plum & Cherry) in pots on my patio, 3 of them are losing leaves & leaves are turning yellow (only one not effected is the Pear tree). All 4 were planted earlier this year and as yet have had no flowering or any fruit.

Is there a common disease that causes this leaf loss & discolouration?

Any advice would be appreciated.

Dear William

It could be a number of things causing your leaves to drop and turn yellow but without seeing a photograph of your trees I will advise what I think it could possibly be. 

  • Lack of water – trees in pots need regular watering as they dry out quicker and do not catch as much rain water as plants and trees in the ground.
  • Small pots – are the pots big enough?
  • Nutrient deficiencies – as with watering, trees in pots need regular feeding to give them the nutrients they require to grow. Feed in Spring with a balanced feed (Fish, Blood & Bone or Bonemeal), give a Nitrogen feed in late autumn to prepare for next year’s growth.  All fruit trees benefit from a top dressing of potash too, but don’t over do it or the leaves will go pale.
  • Lack of sunlight – I doubt this is your problem as you said your trees were on the patio and patios are usually in the sun.
  • Disease – Is there any sign of disease on your trees, this can usually be identified by the leaves or you will be able to see signs of pests.

If you give your trees a good water and feed hopefully you should see improvements in a week or two.

If you keep this regime of regular watering and feeding hopefully you will see signs of fruit in a year or two!


Lynn Burton
Horticultural Adviser