plum tree

Pruning Plum Trees Step-By-Step

Last Updated on May 20, 2022 by Real Men Sow

Pruning fruit trees promotes good shape and size, helps keep the tree productive, and removes dead and damaged wood. Plum trees should be pruned in the spring or summer.

Why Should You Prune Plum Trees

Silver leaf disease, a serious fungal disease, affects all members of the Prunus Family, including cherries, plums, and apricots. The fungal infection enters plants through wounds and turns the leaves silver. The whole branch eventually dies. Pruning plum trees in spring and summer allows the tree’s pruning wounds time to heal before the silver leaf disease spores become active in the winter months.

Pruning Plum Trees Based On Their Age

Young plum trees, up to three years old, are best kept in check by being lightly pruned in spring. A ‘bush shape’ with an open middle is the best way to prune plum trees. This looks like a wine glass or goblet. It will allow light, air, and sunlight to reach the fruits. Prune the trees when they are just starting to bloom or the buds are about to burst.

3+ Year-old Trees

Pruning plum trees older than three years can be done in the summer from mid-June to late July. The goal is to maintain a tree of manageable size and shape while allowing the fruit to ripen. Prune the branches to form a wine-glass shape. Reduce the branch size by one-third, and then trim the shoots that grow into the middle of the tree. You should also pull out suckers from the base and grub any buds that grow on the trunk.

Pruning Trees For Renovation or Increase Productiveness

You can renovate an old plum tree by slowly building it up over many years them aiming to achieve a good shape for the goblet. Every pruning will produce several thin shoots that will need to be trimmed.

No Fruits

Your plum tree may not be producing fruit or it isn’t producing any fruit at all (known as biennial bear). This could be due to a lack of moisture or frost damage in spring. Because fruits are only produced from shoots that have been around for one or two years, heavy pruning can also impact cropping.

Materials Needed For Pruning Plum Trees

It doesn’t matter if you need a pair or long-handled loppers. Always prune dry, with sharp, clean tools such as secateurs and a pruning saw. Never cut above the bud, and never slop away from it. Do not worry if you have to prune some fruit that is still developing. You may need to thin it in July. Don’t be discouraged if your pruning is not perfect – plums can be more flexible than apples and pears.

How To Prune Plum Trees

  1. Reduce the size of all branches by one-third, and trim to just below a bud. Reduce the side shoots by one-half.
  2. You can keep the tree healthy by removing any old branches that are damaged, weak, competing, or crossing. Remove any branches that have grown into the middle of the tree.

Quick Note: You can add leafy summer prunings directly to your compost pile, where they will rot down quickly.

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