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

Loaded Apricot Tree
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.

Unripe
Cherry:

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.

Nectarine flowers

Nectarine:

Nectarines 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.

Peaches

Peach:

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.

 

Quetsches/Damson plums

Plum: 

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

Pear_Tree_Merged_Macro

Pear:

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

Corfu -Quince tree blossom
Quince: 

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

 

 

Need some beautifully crafted pruning tools? Check out our range of beautiful Opinel tools in the Pip Shop.

 

6 thoughts on “When to prune fruit trees

  1. Thanks for the info! Any tips on citrus pruning and sub tropical areas (even though I know you’re ‘down south’…!)

  2. We’ve just focussed on deciduous fruit trees here Tish and Joan, but it seems like we might need to do a citrus follow up next month due to popular demand.

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