Pruning Plum Trees

Pruning is the most important winter task for your plum trees. Here’s how to do it properly to ensure optimal fruit production in summer.

Plums need to be pruned in July and August to ensure top-quality fruit is produced consistently each and every season. Many trees in home gardens are neglected and end up being an unproductive waste of time and space. But older trees can be resurrected with a severe winter pruning, cutting back hard to about 1m in height. However, it’s best to give your trees a good start in life. Plant out young trees of the latest and best cultivars to ensure top-quality fruit production, and focus on pruning correctly from the beginning. Follow these simple pruning instructions for the best results. After winter pruning, spray the dormant trees with lime sulphur. The tools you will need are sharp secateurs, long-handled loppers and a pruning saw. Make sure that all tools are sharp and in good order, and disinfect the tools after pruning each tree to prevent the spread of infectious diseases.

What to do

  1. During late winter, prune back the central leader stem (a) at a height of 1.5m. Cut back laterals (b) by half to downward facing buds. Remove all lower branches below 50cm (c).
  2. In summer, after fruit has been harvested, remove part of the new season’s growth to thin out the body of the tree. Leave 15- 20cm of the new season’s growth on the tree.
  3. During subsequent winter seasons, prune back the main stem (d) by two thirds of the previous season’s growth. Continue with this practice annually.
  4. Continue to cut back each summer after fruiting has been completed. Remove the new season’s growth tips, retaining 15-20cm of the new wood. Prune out any weak or unproductive shoots

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