Question: My purple plum has branches that are dying on one side of the tree. The leaves are all brown and crunchy while the other side seems healthy. Please help.
It is important to try and find out what the problem is if possible. From your description, one-third of the tree has leaves that are dead or dying. These leaves are brown, dry, withered and possibly dead. Something is causing water not to reach the side of the tree that is withered and appears dead.
This means there is damage to the limb or trunk below that area. If the tree is in a rock landscape — which is really not good for this tree — make sure that water is getting to that side by turning on the irrigation system and making sure water is coming out.
You might try putting a hose at the base of the tree and soaking the area around the tree slowly over a couple of hours. But my best guess is that something has damaged the tree below the problem area. You still have time this year to help get it recovering from this damage before leaf drop.
Bob Morris is a professor emeritus in horticulture with the University of Nevada and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit his blog at