4 Steps About Pruning Fruit Trees

4 Steps About Pruning Fruit Trees

4 Steps About Pruning Fruit Trees



 – Tips for choosing secateurs

 – When to prune a fruit tree?

 – Step 1: Prepare the pruning

 – Step 2: Thin the tree

 – Step 3: Prune

 – Step 4: Care for the fruit tree after pruning

 – Special case: Prune a tree in formation

For plum, apple, or cherry trees, to mention just a few, you must prune your fruit tree to promote flowering and increase fruiting.


Pruning a fruit tree allows to:

 – orient the branches horizontally (naturally, the tree tends to grow vertically) and thus increase their exposure to the sun;

 – remove dead wood;

 – shorten branches to limit the exhaustion of the tree and avoid the decrease in fruiting.


But be careful. Pruning fruit trees cannot be improvised.


Tip: if your tree is too tall, call in specialized companies.


Tips for choosing pruning shears

 Before buying a pruning shear, it is strongly advised to take it in hand. You must be able to:

 – open and close it easily;

 – operate the blade locking mechanism without difficulty;

 – feel a certain comfort between palm and fingers; the ergonomic handles will help a lot.


Choose a pruning shear with “straight” blades (a sharpened blade that slides along a counter-blade), which produces a clean cut (unlike anvil pruning shears).

 Disinfect the pruning shears before use with methylated spirits (they are still a significant vector of disease).

When to prune a fruit tree?

 Depending on the fruit tree, several prunings are possible:

 – In winter, for seed trees (apple tree, pear tree).

 – In late summer, for stone trees: cherry, peach, apricot, plum…

 – From November to March, for trees in formation.


Good to know: know that bad pruning is better than no pruning.


1. Prepare the pruning

4 Steps About Pruning Fruit Trees

 Before you start, know how to identify the two types of buds that exist:

 – flowering buds: swollen, perpendicular to the wood, they will give fruits;

 – vegetative buds, called wood buds: long and pointed, sometimes stuck to the wood, will give a branch.

 Before pruning, it is important to clean the tree, using the double ladder if necessary. Be sure to position it on a flat area and ideally to be accompanied (a fall can happen quickly).

 Caution: do not have fun climbing the tree because some fruit trees have brittle wood.

 – Remove all the dead wood from the tree by cutting it with secateurs or branch cutters.

 – Also, remove any damaged twigs or dead ends.

 – If any dried fruit is left hanging on the branches, remove it.

2. Thin the tree

4 Steps About Pruning Fruit Trees

 This thinning operation aims to bring light to the tree’s center and thus promote balanced fruiting.

 – Remove the inward-facing branches.

 – Leave the heart of the tree as accessible as possible.

 – Cut off all small vertical branches.

3. Prune

4 Steps About Pruning Fruit Trees

 – Start with a horizontal branch before you, then go around the tree.

 – Reduce the length of the main horizontal branches (by about one to two-thirds), and this will stimulate the lateral branches.

 – Do the same for the main vertical branches (by about one to two-thirds) above a wood bud if you want to stimulate its growth. Feel free, as they will not bear any fruit anyways.

 – Cut back the side branches (leaving 2 or 3 vegetative buds) at an outward-facing bud so that the future branch will grow more easily.

 – Remove suckers (vigorous shoots that grow on the trunk and pump sap with no hope of fruiting).

 – Move away from the tree regularly to judge its silhouette.

 – Remove branches to keep the tree in the most harmonious shape possible.

 4. Care for the fruit tree after pruning

 – Apply healing putty with a brush or spatula to the sections of the largest branches cut off, so the tree will be less weakened.

 – To prevent diseases, treat the tree by spraying a Bordeaux mixture with a garden sprayer.

Particular case: Prune a tree in formation

 The pruning of a tree in formation is important as it determines its structure.

 – Remove branches that cross each other.

 – Eliminate the shoots grown on the trunk less than one meter from the ground.

 – Force the growth of missing branches by cutting back existing branches but at the level of buds oriented in the right direction.

 – Cut back side branches to stimulate the main shoot.

 – In the first year, remove all the fruit to avoid tiring the tree.

Materials for pruning a fruit tree

 Bordeaux mixture 

 Branch cutter 

 Double ladder 

 Gardening gloves 

 Healing putty 

 Pressure sprayer 

 Pruning saw 

 Pruning shears 


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