When To Prune Fruit Trees

When To Prune Fruit Trees

Winter is a great time to prune your fruit trees. Follow our guide for when and how to prune different 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.

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

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.

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!).

apple harvest

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.

For more on pruning apple trees watch our video here.

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.

When To Prune Fruit Trees cherry

Cherry

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

Nectarine/Peach

Nectarines and 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.

When To Prune Fruit Trees plums

Plum/Quince/Pear

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

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Comments (13)

  1. Avatar

    What about Citrus?

    Tish
    May 23, 2017 Reply
  2. Avatar

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

    Joan
    May 24, 2017 Reply
  3. Avatar

    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.

    Pip Team
    May 24, 2017 Reply
  4. Avatar

    Any wisdom on the deciduous Fig and Persimmon?

    Hayley
    May 24, 2017 Reply
  5. Avatar

    Could you please tell me how to prune a passion fruit vine?

    Wendy Meyrick
    Mar 1, 2018 Reply
  6. Avatar

    I’d also like to know more about fig pruning!

    Nicole
    Jun 22, 2018 Reply
  7. Avatar

    just picked a bucket of cherries i’ ve been told to prune on any month that starts with j in it
    or is it prune after picking fruit

    frankie b
    Dec 22, 2018 Reply
  8. Avatar

    Hello! First of all? Where are you from? I`m asking because I found a scissor like this on your top image, at a flea market in Romania. Anyway… the serious question is: I just planted 2 nectarines, and they have already branches. Sould I cut the branches o leave them like they are? Thank you

    Flaviu
    Mar 5, 2020 Reply
    • Avatar

      If they are just getting their first branches leave them to grow. You only need to start pruing once they have lots of branches and you want to start shaping the tree. We are in Australia.

      Robyn Rosenfeldt
      Mar 5, 2020 Reply
  9. Avatar

    I live in O’sullivan Beach, SA, I have 3 apricot, 3 peaches, 1 nectarine, 1 plum – 2 to 3.5 metres high, 3 years old now. I am 83 and cannot prune myseif can any one help.

    denis cook
    Apr 14, 2020 Reply
    • Avatar

      Hi Denis,
      I have contacted someone who lives nearby to see if they know anyone. I’ll be in touch.

      Robyn Rosenfeldt
      Apr 14, 2020 Reply

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