We are fast approaching the winter fruit tree pruning season as I write this but it does appear that there is still confusion over this task so I thought I would outline a few points.
Plums and stone fruits
These are susceptible to silver leaf disease and bacterial canker so should only be pruned in the Summer.
Trained Apples and Pears
The trees that are grafted onto a dwarfing rootstock to keep them small and trained against walls and fences as cordons, espaliers and fans should also be pruned in the Summer to keep them small. Pruning at this time takes away the leaves and allows light and air in to ripen the fruit.
Untrained Apples and Pears
This is what we are interested in now as they can be done whilst dormant during the winter. It is a skilled job and I spend most of the winter and early Spring up a ladder pruning apples and wisteria!
Renovation of old trees should be done over several years to avoid excessive extension growth.
All water shoots should be removed (those unproductive ones coming from the trunk), any branches going into the centre of the tree that are crossing and congesting it should be removed. Each branch should then be looked at in turn to ascertain which is the leading shoot and which are the laterals. The leader is pruned by one third and laterals by two thirds to just above a bud. Older trees may need some spur thinning to prevent too much fruit breaking branches.
The benefits of correct pruning are huge as the plants look tended, provide better fruit, have less pests and diseases (including dieback). A well pruned apple tree is a benefit to any garden.
Cathie’s Mobile Gardening School and Cathie’s Garden Army
If this is all too complicated or too much like a chore in the cold weather please do ask for some advice in your garden before you start or I can come and prune them for you. If the tree is enormous a tree surgeon may need to reduce it before we can prune but we have them on hand to help if required.
Garden Vouchers for consultancies are an excellent idea for a Christmas present too!