Tuesday 10 October 2017

Greasing my apple trees!

As many of you will know, my apple-growing prowess to-date has been far from remarkable. However the tree I bought last year ("Laxton's Superb") has done well, and produced a very commendable crop for such a small tree.

"Laxton's Superb"

On account of previous issues - such as Bitter Pit (qv) - I have put my two apple trees into big pots, where I am better able to control the soil and its moisture level. This next photo is of my other apple tree, the "Winter Banana".

"Winter Banana"

The few fruit that this tree produced this year were all attacked to a greater or lesser extent by burrowing creatures, possibly the Codling Moth.

With such a small potential harvest, every fruit is precious to me, and I'm determined to do what I can to prevent the insects damaging it. It is for this reason that I have applied grease to my trees! I purchased this little pot of Vitax Fruit Tree Grease at my local garden centre, priced at £6.99. I think it would be enough for about six to eight trees, if they were small ones like mine.

The grease is thick and black, rather like tar, though it doesn't smell of much. The principle of this stuff is that any insect trying to climb up into your tree will be unable to negotiate the sticky barrier and will either get stuck and die, or move off in search of easier "prey". Grease applications of course will not work in relation to flying insects, so they need to be used as part of an in-depth strategy, perhaps in conjunction with pheromone traps.

The product instructions say to apply it with a brush or spatula, but I found that a short length of bamboo cane worked just fine.

It says to apply a band of grease about 4 inches / 10cm in height, around the trunk of the tree, preferably about 18 inches from ground level, but below the level of the lowest branch. What it doesn't say is how thickly to apply it. Since I only have two trees to treat I decided to be generous!

So there we are - a band 4 inches tall and 18 inches above the soil surface...

Next, I shall be reading-up about pheromone traps...


  1. My husband did this to our fruit trees. The "grease" hardened & wound up girding our trees. I hope your grease has instructions for removal & re-application.
    I love, love your gardens, Sandy in California.

    1. Hmmmm, I'll be watching that carefully. Thanks for the warning, Sandy. The stuff I applied today seemed quite soft, but I suppose it may harden-up during the Winter.

  2. This weekend I deployed grease bands on all the fruit trees in our garden. I use the collar that comes as a folded over sheet You cut off the desired length and prise it open to reveal the glue, then tie strings above and below the glue zone. Inevitably you end up with some glue on your hands, but it works for me. You have to do any supporting stakes too! I hope yours aren't touching that fence either as the critters might use that to get aloft.

  3. I use grease too but am not as delicate as you in applying it. I smear it on with my hands inside a rubber glove that is thrown away after. We also use codling moth traps that contain pheromone lures.

  4. It was interesting to read about your experiences of growing apple trees in pots. We do use grease at the community orchard, it hasn't been applied this year yet. I was very sticky and last year two of us managed to damage our clothes when we were weeding near the tree, so be careful! Sarah x


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