How to bend tree branches


Bending Fruit Tree Branches - When, How To, And Why?

Gardening can be fun; however, it's serious science that helps you understand the specific mode of pruning and handling fruit trees. If you have heard of bending fruit tree branches, you might wonder why, when, or how to do it. You are in the right place as we've inquired from experts and got informative answers.

Fruit tree branches are bent to increase fruit, eliminate sick branches and regulate growth. Branch bending can be done in the cold months when the tree isn't bearing fruit and is dormant. You can use weights or limb spreaders at the base of each branch.

Does it sound complicated or straightforward? Either way, continue reading to discover what the experts mean and how to go about it. 

Bending Fruit Tree Branches

Whether growing fruit trees for commercial or personal consumption, you want to see them have fruit. However, you don't have to be an expert to know the ropes of growing fruitful trees.  

Before you bend every fruit tree branch around, you'll need to understand how, when, and why. 

Why Bend Fruit Tree Branches

You'll need to train any fruit tree to flourish and bear healthy fruit. Training your fruit tree branches means bending the tender branches to:

  • Spread the new shoots to ensure some branches won't have more fruits than others.
  • Spread the older branches to increase fruits on them.
  • Ensure that each tree branch gets enough sunlight for active growth.
  • Ensures the fruit tree remains manageable throughout its fruit-bearing period.
  • It slows down the growth and calms the tree. Reduce excessive vegetation on the tree to allow more fruit buds to appear.

When To Bend Fruit Tree Branches

Now that you know why you should bend fruit tree branches, the next step is understanding when to do so. Experts advise bending the fruit trees:

  • During the warm weather, when the tree has intensive growth.
  • When tree branches are one or two years old, older tree branches might snap easily when bent.

How To Bend Fruit Tree Branches

Finally, you are ready to start bending the branches on your apple or pear fruit trees. Bending a fruit tree branch shouldn't be done all willy-nilly. You might have fruit trees that are not as young; thus, take extra care.

The procedure is straightforward. 

  • Bend the branches at a 45 or 60-degree angle. Be gentle with older branches and bend them only as far as possible.
  • Use twine with weights at the end to secure the branches. Alternatively, tie the twine without weights on the stem of the tree.

Check out this jute twine for gardening on Amazon.

  • You can also use notched limb spreaders. For more effectiveness, place them at the base of the branch.

Here are plastic limb spreaders on Amazon.

Please ensure the twine doesn't cut into the branches as this can damage them.  

Here's a short tutorial on how to weigh down the fruit tree branches without damaging or breaking them.

Which Direction Should You Bend Fruit Tree Branches?

First, look at how your fruit tree branches grow. Then bend the branches in the direction of the crotch of the branch.

Where you have a weak crotch, don't weaken it further by bending the branches downwards. Bend the branches sideways to save the fruit branch. The maximum angle advised is not more than 60 degrees. 

The branches should not be horizontal to the growth as this will suppress their growth and fruit-bearing capabilities. Branches bent below the horizontal have less vegetation, and most of the buds help the tree become more productive.

How Long Can You Bend A Branches

Bending a fruit tree branch mimics fruit-bearing, which tricks the tree into storing lignin at the base of the bent branch. To ensure the branch stores enough lignin, it has to bend for at least two weeks. Most times, the branch will be wholly influenced by the third week, and you can now remove any twine or ropes.

How To Support Fruit Tree Branches

Once fruit trees have been pruned on time and properly nurtured, they will start bearing fruit. You might have fruit in abundance, and the fruit branches will start hanging over.

The fruit tree branches will need support. It would help if you used stakes and pegs to support the branches. The size of stakes to use depends on the height of the fruit tree in question.

How To Take Care Of Fruit-Bearing Trees

Provide the best care for fruit-bearing trees in all their growth stages. Additionally, they make your property more attractive and add value to it. Use the following tips to care for orange, apple, or pear trees.

Research

Not all trees will fair well in your vicinity. Therefore, before you settle on any fruit tree, do thorough research for a fruitful endeavor.  

Soil Type

Fruit trees need soil rich in nutrients as well as well-drained. In the early stages, prepare the soil and enrich it thoroughly for the seedlings to increase and be healthy. Mushy and swampy areas are not ideal for planting fruit trees.

Light & Spacing

Fruit trees love ample sunlight and enough spacing. Don't plant them too close to shrubs and bushes. Neither should the area have grass to avoid competition for nutrients.

Check Up

Watering the fruit trees is vital at the early stages. Watch out for fungal infections and pests that might destroy the tree and its fruit. 

Maintenance

Pruning and branch bending are ways to increase your harvest. Gardeners must do this regularly to ensure a constant abundance of harvest. Don't skip or ignore these steps if you don't want your trees to die.

Expert Help

Generally, if you know nothing about fruit trees, seek an expert's services.

Laziness will make your fruit trees suffer and make you continue buying fruits from the store even with fruit trees in your back yard.

How Pruning Helps Fruit Trees

Pruning is not a complicated process; any first-time fruit tree grower can master it in a short period. All trees need pruning; the following steps apply to most fruit-bearing trees. Pruning helps:

  • Clean up the tree by removing sprouts on various parts of the tree. Cut any dead wood to create room for young, vigorous tree fruits that can bear fruit.
  • Create light by cutting out multiple branches growing from one point.
  • Lastly, cut the longer tree branches to thicken them. Thicker and shorter stems are sturdier and can hold fruit.

Ensure that you use sharp and clean shears for pruning. When you finish pruning your fruit trees, clean the area of any debris, such as diseased branches.

Have a look at these pruning shears on Amazon.

Repairing Broken Fruit Tree Branches

Branches can break due to heavy fruit in any given season. Moreso, animals or people can accidentally damage the branches.  

Either way, the broken branches need repair if possible to do so. If the branch has a severe break, it might be irreparable. Remove entire branches that have been affected by any disease. 

Repairable tree branches are those that have broken all through the wood. You can tie the split using anything handy. Use rope, cable ties, budding tape, or string depending on the size and location of the split.

Have a look at this plant binding tape on Amazon.

Leave the bind on the fruit tree branch for a few months before it merges entirely. But remember to keep an eye on the branch to avoid the rope or tape getting too tight. Finally, thin the branch to reduce the fruit if the bind was successful.

How To Choose Fruit Trees For Your Locality

Different fruit trees fair differently in other climatic regions. Whether you want an orchid or a few random trees in your yard, you should know which fruit trees will survive in your vicinity.

These are the factors you must countercheck for any specific variety of the fruit tree you choose.

  1. The fruit tree rootstock size. These are different sizes of trees that can be grown in the garden or in containers.
  2. Find out if you need a pollinator for your fruit trees. Alternatively, choose fruit trees that don't need other trees for pollination if you have limited space in your garden.
  3. All locality has diseases that affect fruit trees, causing them not to bear fruits. Therefore, pick varieties resistant to most diseases for more accessible care.
  4. Each fruit tree has chill hours it can handle and still bloom on time. Bear this in mind when choosing any fruit tree variety if you don't want your fruit tree to bloom at the wrong time.

With proper soil drainage and enough natural light, fruit trees grow healthy.

Bottomline

We have clarified in this post why you need to bend fruit branches if it has never been clear prior. Once you do it correctly, you will have more healthy fruit. 

Ideally, bend and prune tree branches simultaneously. This way, you get rid of all sick and frail branches, increase light around the branches, and the fruit tree is a manageable size.

If you have found some inspiration for fruit tree planting, here are more posts to point you in the right direction.

How Deep Should A Fruit Tree Be Planted?

15 Fruit Trees With Non-Invasive Roots

11 Great Fruit Trees For Zone 5

How to Bend Bonsai Branches

When setting up bonsai, most of the time we attempt to make scaled-down of completely grown trees. Grown-up trees are most of the time described through intense bends and twists. Branches can be turned even up to 180 degrees in the reach of the fraction of the length of the branch. Even though certain strategies occur to create durable bends, one is not able to create intense bends as viewed in nature if executing on grown-up trees.

Getting to know the process of Bonsai bend is actually just a matter of constant practice. Wiring is considered to be one of the most essential procedures in shaping and structuring a tree. It lets you avert branches, regulate growth, and maneuver unique limbs which will unravel your artistry and develop the general piece of art.

Proper Bending Methods

Nearly each Bonsai tree undergo wiring up to some range, and it is certainly is fairly simple the moment you become knowledgeable with the method.

If setting up the branches in a complicated structure, three major constraints execute a part. First and foremost, the moment the branches become woody, they become fragile permitting only a particular bending level before they break. Secondly, if the branch becomes woods, it becomes harder to bend. This turns it hard to position bends precisely where one likes, or even to position numbers of bends near to each other.

Next, if wiring more mature branches, it requires a longer period of time in order for them to position in the new structure that heightens the hazard of wire imprints in the branches and also in the bark. These flourish out only very gradually. For a tree which is close to the realization, you can never get the chance of eliminating the wire marks.

Image Credit: Bonsai Empire

The idea that young branches are still not woody gives us the chance of working with them and make bends alternatively not possible. Young shoots easily break if bend. Nevertheless, having the plant sizzle a bit will lessen the cell‘s water pressure, turning it simpler to bend and lowering the hazard of breaking.

Read More: How To Care For A Sick Bonsai Tree

As they become grown-up within weeks and this method certain cells harden to wood, they shall establish a fair rapidly in the new structure, permitting a fast de-wiring.

However, also some species permit bending of fairly more mature trunks and branches in utmost curves.

Wiring is a helpful method for expediting the progress of the bonsai. The foundation of wiring the bonsai is choosing an appropriate gauge wire and wraps it all over the branches. This will let us bend the branch and maneuver it into a placement that we like and that is amicable to the tree. Check out this video:

There is a selection of wire when we talk about wiring – the first option is the copper wire that lets you bend the branch by using a much slimmer wire but needs further skill and scrutiny to detail. The next option and perhaps the most popular is the aluminum bonsai craft wire. This is simpler to execute with turning it appropriate for novices and is accessible in minimal or huge rolls.

Wiring the Branches

If you will be working with immature branches it is very essential that you remember that the entire strength of the branches is originating from the cells’ water pressure.

Hence, it is really simple to destroy the tissues found in the branches. Use extremely slim wire for the wiring and put on only minimal pressure in the wire while in the process of application.

Learn more from this video:

Read More: How To Care and Techniques For Bonsai Trees

Image Credit: Bonsai for Beginners

Bending the branches

While the branches are still immature and do not acknowledge plenty of turning over, bend the wires and not the branches. Bear in mind that these branches will eventually thicken. This will lead to the contraction of the wiring impact.

Branches are likely to smoothen the bends as they get thicken. Hence, create fairly intense bends. You will see that what appeared ludicrously intense immediately after putting on the wires, within the span of few years appear fairly natural.

Check out this video:

Image Credit: Bonsai4Me

Tips in Wiring Bonsai

  1. Never wire a sick tree. You must understand that bending a bonsai tree can trigger injury and stress to the cells.
  2. Modifying the branch must start to where the branch joins the trunk.
  3. Do not consider watering your plant within 24 hours prior to wiring. Trees with minimal water can be more flexible and have a minimal break flow.
  4. Plan in advance. Bending repeatedly can weaken the branch.
  5. Secure growth.
  6. While you bring down a branch, you may have to alter the sizes of your wires once the limb turns essentially slimmer.

Image Credit: Bonsai Bark

Read More: How To Shape Your Bonsai Tree

Supervision

After wiring the branches, see to it that you directly water the plant. While you execute on a plant that is on the stale portion and you have just initiated the wiring for the young branches, the hazard of die-back is very genuine. Watering is of absolute significance.

Moreover, as the young branches get older, the wires can then be taken out. Bear in mind that the young branches can rapidly thicken so monitor every few numbers of days regardless of the wire isn’t penetrating in.

To acquire the optimum results in bending bonsai branches, it is significant that you do wiring if the tree is most susceptible to change. Trees have various cycles in growth, so the utmost season for wiring may differ. You must examine the particular requirements of your plant prior to starting any comprehensive shaping and bending.

The major capability that distinct Bonsai novices from progressive aficionados are the capacity to prepare the tree through wiring in order to bend the branches into different shapes, affecting the utmost progress of the Bonsai.

This, in particular, is something that every Bonsai enthusiast strives to execute and master.

Nevertheless, one of the largest mistakes committed by a newbie is to try training without adequately securing the trunks and the branches from casualty. You cannot plainly cover wire around the branches unswervingly, because it may lead the wire to thoroughly cut the branches and also prejudicing extensive cracks.

Shaping

Why and how to bend the branches of fruit trees? Photo — Botanichka

Spring has come, which means it's time for the formation of our fruit trees. Most gardeners traditionally use pruning for this. But it turns out that there is another way to give the trees the desired shape and get good yields. In this article I will talk about how to form a tree not by pruning, but by bending its branches.

Why and how to bend branches of fruit trees?

Why branches should be formed horizontally?

Let's start a little further. If somewhere in the neighborhood there is a fruit tree that no one cares for, or no one has stopped caring for, then come up and carefully examine it. Most likely, you will see a large number of vertically growing branches that race towards the light. Gardeners have long ago noticed that there are practically no fruits on such vertical shoots, flower buds do not form on them. But a large number of growth buds are formed, which, thickening each other, by all means strive upward.

Naturally, this state of affairs does not suit us gardeners, we need a harvest from a fruit tree. And again, gardeners noticed that a horizontally located branch, on the contrary, bears fruit very abundantly.

So, the first thing you need to bend the branches of fruit trees is to increase the yield. But not only…

By bending the branches away from the vertical position, we open the crown, as it were, allowing sunlight to penetrate inside the crown and evenly illuminate each branch. And this leads to the formation of more flower buds, and, as a result, the tree will bear fruit better. Moreover, an open, unthickened, well-ventilated and heated crown is less susceptible to any diseases, because moisture does not stay there for a long time, and it is more difficult for insect pests to survive.

Well, the third important point. After all, we (most of us) grow fruit trees for harvest. And this means that a lot of operations need to be carried out with a tree during the season: cut, spray, heal wounds, harvest. Agree, all this is much more convenient, easier, and most importantly, more efficient to do if you can reach each part of the tree with your hand and not climb ladders, stepladders and other shaky structures.

I don’t know about you, but for me everything that can be reached by hand receives maximum care, and what is far (high) receives care according to the residual principle, they say, then ... it will be in time. Even the most pleasant moment of harvesting on a tall tree turns into a test, and often the fruits remain there or fall to the ground, break and are no longer needed by anyone. It turns out, it seems, that there is a tree in the garden, and it gives a harvest, but there is little sense from it. I believe 2.5 meters is the maximum height for a fruit tree to be used and processed effectively.

The optimal bending angle of the branches will be approximately 60 degrees

How and when should the branches be bent?

So, the reasons have been sorted out. Now about how to bend these same branches correctly. Remember? Vertical ones grow well, but bear fruit poorly, while horizontal ones, on the contrary, bear fruit well. But there is one caveat. They bear fruit, then they bear fruit, but their age is short, precisely because they do not give growth. The branch quickly depletes its strength and gradually dies off. We are also not interested in this.

So the right compromise must be found. Optimal, as it turned out, would be an angle of about 60 degrees. Between what and what? Between the vertical of the trunk and the branch being bent, but the angle is on top (see figure). Such a branch will both bear fruit well and give small, moderate growths, which means it will live for a long time.

As practice shows, branches can be bent at any time of the year, but there is one important point. If suddenly for some reason you decide to do it in winter, then keep in mind that the wood of many species in the cold becomes brittle, brittle and excessive effort can lead to trouble, and not to an increase in fruiting.

Therefore, we bend the branches smoothly, slowly, in several passes, achieving the desired angle. By the way, in addition to frost, the wood of some trees is fragile in itself, even in spring. For example, if you bend pear branches, follow all the same precautions.

Read also our article The main mistakes when pruning fruit trees.

Necessary tools for shaping the tree. © Igor Bilevich The best option for bending a branch is to use wide strips of strong synthetic material. © Igor Bilevich

What accessories will be needed?

In principle, if you are a responsible gardener, you can use a strong rope or wire, tying it around a branch. And what about responsibility? The fact is that the tree grows, and the branches thicken, sooner or later this rope or wire of yours will begin to dig into the wood and block the outflow of nutrients from the crown to the roots (by the way, this will also increase productivity).

It is better not to do this, then this construction will grow into the bark and cripple the branch. The best, in my opinion, option is to use wide strips of strong synthetic material, about 20 cm long and 3-5 cm wide, on both sides of which metal eyelets are installed. I use them with a diameter of 14 mm. You can install them either in a special workshop, or on your own, using simple tools.

This mount has a large gap and does not interfere with the growth of the branch, moreover, it is reusable. Easily installed, removed, rearranged from branch to branch, from one tree to another. By the way, professional gardeners all over the world use these "collars".

In the right place, in order to maintain the correct angle of departure (approx. 60 degrees), a peg is driven into the ground at a slight angle, and the second end of the rope is attached to it. Of course, it turns out not very convenient - the ropes interfere with the passage and, most importantly, it becomes inconvenient to mow the grass near the trunk circle. You can try (and sometimes succeed) to attach the end of the rope to the stem of the tree itself. Then it turns out compact and even beautiful in its own way.

Usually branches are fixed for one season. They put it in winter or spring, so let it stand until autumn, as a rule, the branch “remembers” this position in a few months.

By the way, branches can be bent not only for fruit trees to increase yield, but also for ornamental ones, to eliminate “one-sidedness” and give the tree the desired crown shape.

Usually branches are fixed for one season. © Igor Bilevich

Read also our article Formative pruning of an apple tree - from a seedling to an adult tree.

Can I cut and fold?

Everything at first glance is good and simple, but there is a fly in the ointment in this barrel of honey. The fact is that the tree, by and large, "does not care" what you want from it, it wants and will grow upwards, towards the light. In practice, this leads to such a picture. You bend a branch, and the tree (usually closer to the bend) has released a lot of vertical shoots, as if in exchange for the bent one.

Therefore, the most important conclusion for a gardener is that once you start shaping a tree, whether it's pruning or bending, you can't throw it away. It is necessary from year to year and even more than once a year to continue what has been started - to remove the unnecessary or to bend down the next portion of vertical shoots.

The best option for me turned out to be a combination of two methods for the formation of fruit trees - pruning and bending branches. I mostly bend the branches of young trees, forming peculiar tiers, and on older trees I combine bending with pruning, trying to form a low bowl. In my opinion, this is the most successful and convenient form for any fruit tree.

There is still plenty of time before the start of the growing season and you can slowly study and try this “new” method on your trees, and you will always have time to prune, if anything.

Formation of fruit trees by bending without pruning

Finally, you have purchased and placed on your site seedlings of the desired variety of pear, apple or other fruit tree. And they did this, of course, counting on a good harvest, and not on a dense shade for half of the dacha or a stack of firewood for a bathhouse in ten years.

Take advantage of this unique opportunity to shape young trees from the beginning so that fruiting occurs every year and is abundant, so that the plants do not take up much space and are convenient for harvesting from the ground, without the use of various devices. It is quite possible to achieve this, and the evidence for this is the practical experience of natural farming.

The main thing that a novice amateur gardener should know is that the active formation of fruits in trees occurs when they do not have the opportunity to direct their vital forces in another direction. If nothing prevents the plant from stretching up and releasing more and more new shoots, it will stretch and release. Therefore, it is so important that the tree initially spreads out in width, and does not grow up, so that the main branches are located as horizontally as possible.

For fruit trees, the ideal crown is a bowl. Then you have a low tree growing with branches divorced in different directions and a free middle. A plant of this form is better illuminated by the sun's rays, more enduring in harsh winters, and not so prone to breakage. And, most importantly, when the time comes, its branches are hung with fruits.

1 How to form trees by bending

2 How to increase the number of fruit buds on an apple and pear tree

3 Bending branches - forming fruit trees (video)

How to form trees by bending

You can start the formation process already with a seedling. Before planting in a permanent place or immediately after that, it is necessary to remove extra branches. Roughly speaking, you can cut a young tree so that it becomes a straight bare stick about 80 centimeters high. Remember how we talked about the correct planting of a pear. Do not worry, at the initial stage it is more important for the plant to develop the root system, to gain a foothold in a new place, and the branches will grow later, of course.

Actually, we start bending the shoots in the second year. It is optimal to do this in the spring, after the establishment of good weather, but before the opening of the kidneys. During this period, the wood is the softest and most resilient.

First, we determine the height of the future trunk. The stem is called the strong thick trunk we need, branched into lateral branches in the future. Practice shows that it is better to take from forty to eighty centimeters. We mark the level we need, take a rope or twine made of polypropylene and pegs.

Fanaticism is not appropriate here - we bend the plant so that the desired trunk is vertical, and the part that is higher is inclined horizontally. The more parallel to the ground the branch is, the better. Of course, this largely depends on the angle of the branch to the trunk or on the thickness of the trunk itself. Therefore, as far as we managed to bend, we leave as much. After all, we have a completely different goal than to break a tree with our excessive efforts. If the plant does not want to bend at all, it must be “washed” - bend the trunk a dozen centimeters below and above the level of the desired bend a couple of times until a slight crunch.

We tie the bent shoot to a peg, focusing more on the middle than on the top. Short branches that are below the fold can be left uncut, they will dry out on their own later. If there are strong branches, they are also bred to the sides, bent over and tied to pegs.

What are the next steps? The nature of the tree makes it strive upwards, so it activates all its forces to return to the vertical. In the spring, a young shoot will begin to grow on the fold straight up. By the beginning of autumn, it will become quite large, and it is also bent in the opposite direction from the first branch and fixed with a peg. And again, no extra effort is needed - as far as bent down, so good. A little later, three months later, after strengthening the fold, try to tilt it a little more.

Thus, 3-4 vertical branches bent oppositely will form the lower tier of the plant. Side shoots do not need to be removed, they are also bent. Two or three years will pass and the seedling will have a properly formed crown. It's time to remove all unnecessary and with your own hands help the tree develop branches where there will be fruit buds.

How to increase the number of fruit buds on an apple and pear tree

Small, not fully developed branches with fruit buds are called fruit buds. On apple and pear seedlings (but, unfortunately, not on stone fruits), their number can be increased by shortening the necessary shoots in time.

When the tree, which has already bent all the necessary branches, will be in its third or fourth year, we will begin to remove the unnecessary. This is best done in early summer - the young shoots are still soft and pliable.

We find out where the young animals come from. All branches growing from the middle, forks, are removed. Our crown is already formed, and extra thickening is not needed.

Once shoots have emerged from bent branches, they can be stimulated to bear fruit. We shorten each such shoot so that a small branch with two leaves at the base remains. After 2-4 weeks, when the shoots grow back, they are cut off again, now leaving one leaf. This "haircut" is repeated so many times until the top of the shoot is decorated with a thick bud that has appeared. Although such a process goes on almost all summer, it is not laborious and very effective. Next year, every cut shoot will have flowers.

And you won't need to bend the branches anymore - the fruits will do it. And the task of the gardener will be the removal of dead wood and thinning of the crown.

Important! The bending method is not recommended for bush varieties of cherries, peach trees and columnar apple trees.


Learn more