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Pruning small Fruit Trees?

Fruit trees are pruned to keep them healthy, stimulate growth and enhance fruit production as well as creating a desired tree form. The main goal in pruning fruit trees is to open up the tree to allow in more light for a better crop of fruit. Inner branches receive more light which stimulates fruit development. Young fruit trees are mainly pruned to establish a good tree shape. Pruning established, mature trees helps rejuvenate them.

When should I prune small fruit trees?

So when should you prune your fruit tree? Most fruit trees are pruned in winter, when they are dormant, to prevent them from bleeding or weakening, thus making them prone to disease and fungal infections. Other small fruit trees are pruned in autumn or after bearing fruit.

Pruning time period

Please note that the pruning time period below is an indication, written for Northern European countries:

  • Pip fruit varieties (apples and pears etc.) are pruned in winter. The pruning period is from January to March
  • Stone fruit varieties (peach and plum trees, cherry, apricot etc.) are pruned in late summer to early autumn. The pruning period is from August to mid-September, after harvest. Don’t prune stone fruit trees in winter
  • Grapes and Kiwi plants: pruning period from December to January (up to February 1st) in order to prevent them from bleeding
  • Prune black berries from November to March prune the branches that have borne fruit. Berries grow fruit on new canes
  • White and red berries: pruning period from January to early April
  • Fig trees: pruning period from November to February
  • Lemon Trees: pruning period from late September to early October


How should I prune small fruit trees?

  • A good starting point for pruning any plant or tree is to remove dead, diseased, or damaged stems as soon as you see them
  • Remove crossing branches, water sprouts (vigorous upright growing shoots), and suckers (vigorous shoots that develop near or from below ground)
  • Prune young fruit trees by cutting back leader branches to strong lateral branches and side branches to one-third to one half
  • Remove any upward growing shoots, downward and horizontal growing branches, etc. on mature trees
  • Prune branches that have borne fruit

Pruning tips:

  • Never prune during wet or freezing weather
  • Never prune trees too drastically
  • Use good quality, sharp pruning tools
  • To control the spread of diseases while pruning, dip your pruning shears in rubbing alcohol or a solution of one part bleach to nine parts water
  • If you are unsure about how to prune your fruit tree, please look up and follow the specific pruning instructions for your fruit tree variety


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