When To Prune Fruit Trees

Winter is a great time to prune your fruit trees. Follow our guide for when and how to prune different fruit trees.

There are as many ways to prune fruit trees as there are to skin a cat, so it’s no wonder novice pruners feel a little intimidated at the prospect of hacking away at their beloved deciduous fruit trees with a pair of secateurs.

Winter is a great time to prune, but despite common perceptions, winter is not the only time you can prune deciduous fruit trees.

The best way to feel confident in pruning is to understand the different effects pruning at different times of year can have on deciduous fruit trees.

We created this little guide to give you a basic understanding of when to prune and, more importantly, the effects pruning at different times will have on different trees.

In general, it’s good to remember that winter pruning is best used for structural purposes, as hard pruning will encourage vigorous growth in spring. Summer pruning improves fruit quality and helps to inhibit growth (or control the size of your tree, whichever way you want to look at it!).

Apples

Winter pruning for structural purposes will also increase spring growth. Summer pruning will help to contain growth and control size of your tree.

Careful and selective tip pruning of lateral branches in summer will improve crop of the coming year (in the most common spur bearing varieties).

If you live in an area with hot summers, leaving more leaf coverage can help to prevent sunburn on fruit, where conversely, if you live in a very cool climate, pruning in early summer to allow more light through branches to developing fruit can be beneficial.

For more on pruning apple trees watch our video here.

Apricots

As apricots are susceptible to disease, most gardeners either prefer to do any pruning earlier in autumn when leaves start to yellow, or later towards spring, as the cuts will heal more quickly in warmer weather, leaving less of a window for infections to take hold.

Cherry

Winter pruning for structural purposes will also increase spring growth. Summer pruning will help to contain growth and control the size of your tree. Careful and selective tip pruning of lateral branches in summer will improve crop of the coming year.

Nectarine/Peach

Nectarines and peaches bear fruit on new wood, so a hard summer prune after the harvest will increase the coming year’s crop as it gives it more opportunities to grow new wood for fruit on.

Plum/Quince/Pear

Winter pruning for structural purposes will also increase spring growth. Summer pruning will help to contain growth and control size of your tree. Plums, quince and pear generally benefit from lighter pruning than other trees.

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