How to prune a plum tree diagram


How to Prune a Plum Tree

Plum trees are the perfect first fruit tree for a home orchard. They are beautiful, fruitful, and easy to prune. You’ve done the work of finding the right plum variety and putting it in the ground. Now, this article will equip you to prune a plum tree from year one to maturity. Keep reading to learn all there is to know about pruning a plum tree!

Why Prune a Plum Tree

Fruits such as grapes, blueberries, or even peach trees will become unproductive without proper pruning. In contrast, plum trees can thrive even if you make a few mistakes when new to pruning. 

So, why is pruning plum trees worth the time? Basically, neglected trees will be smaller and bear less fruit than a pruned plum tree, but here are four main reasons to prune a plum tree:

  1. To create a manageable shape that is open to sunlight penetration and air circulation. Nobody wants to fight their plum tree just to prune it.
  2. To develop a strong framework of scaffold branches that won’t break under fruit load.  
  3. To remove diseased branches or damaged wood. 
  4. To encourage optimal fruit production of high-quality plums through the stimulation of strong and healthy new growth. 

Everything You Need to Prune a Plum Tree

Before you prune a plum tree, gather the equipment you need for the job. You can reuse all these products to prune other types of fruit trees, so invest in quality pruning tools that will last. 

Here’s the equipment you need to prune a plum tree, along with my suggestion of where to buy it: 

  • Pruning shears: hand shears for soft shoots, water sprouts, twigs, and foliage. 
  • Orchard loppers: loppers are heavy-duty shears for tougher branches. 
  • Pruning saw: a curved saw case you need to remove a diseased branch. 
  • Pole tree pruner: a long-handled pruner to reach that uppermost branch without climbing on a ladder. 
  • Garden gloves: gloves are indispensable to protect your hands from bushy growth. 
  • Pruning sealer: sealer is optional, but can prevent infection of stumps or pruning wounds. Pruning sealer can also be used for grafting – it’s possible to add an apple branch to your plum tree! 

Plum Tree Growth Habits

When you prune a plum tree, keep in mind that its growth habits are different than those of apples or grapes. Growth habits will depend on what type of plum tree you are growing. 

European Plum Tree Growth Habits

European plums fruit on spurs that are 2 years old, and up to decades old. Therefore, European plum varieties such as the cherry plum and yellow plums like the Mirabelle or Green Gage are very forgiving. Even if you cut back wood from the current season, they will still bloom and bear fruit. 

Japanese Plum Tree Growth Habits

Japanese plums fruit either on 1-year-old wood (much like peaches) or on fruit spurs. Varieties such as the Satsuma plum and Elephant Heart are very fruitful and up to half of the one-year-old shoots must be removed to prevent overproduction. Varieties like the Santa Rosa bear light crops and only one fourth to one third of new shoots should be pruned out.  

When to Prune a Plum Tree

Most fruit trees are pruned during dormant season. This is not true for plums. The best season to prune a plum tree is mid summer during full growth. Why not prune a plum tree in dormant season? The answer is that plum trees are prone to fungal infection, including the infamous Silver Leaf disease. Pruning in summer means there are fewer fungal spores in the air. Plus, the tree has more energy to resist fungal infections.

The exact time for pruning is variable but a good rule of thumb is to prune a plum tree in June or July. If you live in a humid climate in summer, however, late spring is likely the best time for you. Orchard growers in Minnesota, for example, find dormant pruning to work best since fungal spores abound during humid summers. Consider bee-safe fungicides to help keep disease in check.

It can seem wrong to prune off branches and shoots with fruit on them, but resist the urge to leave the tree unpruned. There will be plenty of plums left! 

However, there are a few times when dormant pruning is the better choice.

Dormant pruning is acceptable in the case of limb breakage or at planting time. 

Broken branches should be removed as soon as possible, even in winter. It is better to make a clean cut and cover it with a wound paint than leave a jagged wound in the tree. 

Newly planted trees should always be pruned for the purposes of tree training. You want to start growing the desired tree form right away. Pruning at planting time is always necessary for pruning whips, but some suppliers will prune larger trees ahead of delivery. To minimize risk of infection when you prune a plum tree at planting, keep these tips in mind: 

  • Do your initial pruning in late winter months or early spring before bud break. Choose a dry day when there will be fewer fungal spores in the air.
  • Make clean, sloping cuts to keep water from pooling on pruning wounds. 
  • Watch carefully for silvering or frost damage as spring growth comes in. 

Fruit Thinning

While fruit thinning is not specifically considered a pruning task, it may be necessary for the production of quality fruit later on.  Complete your annual pruning before you thin the plums, and don’t remove flowers from bloom in spring. Summer pruning will remove fruit-bearing stems, which may be all that is needed. 

Why might fruit thinning be used for plum trees? A heavy crop of plums will weigh down even strong scaffold limbs. Furthermore, fruit quality is higher when fruit trees can concentrate sun energy collected by leaves into fewer maturing plums. 

Plum trees are known for their biennial bearing. They will produce a bumper crop of plums one year and then take a year off to store up energy and grow. Proper pruning and fruit thinning can help even out fruit production year to year. 

Here are the steps for proper fruit thinning: 

  • In May or June, if the tree is full of plums, remove some smaller fruit. 
  • Prune the plum tree. 
  • In early to mid-July, remove any damaged, bruised, or pest-ridden plums. 

How to Prune a Plum Tree

You’ll use a different pruning method for each main type of plum.  Japanese plum trees and European plum trees are the most common varieties of plums. Because these trees grow differently, they do best with different shapes. 

Before you start pruning, keep two things in mind. First, always prune a healthy bud in the direction you want new growth, which is usually upright and outward. Make clean pruning cuts for healthy stubs.

Second, carefully select scaffold limbs as the framework of your tree. Scaffold limbs should ideally be at a 45 degree angle to the tree. Branches with narrow crotch angles can split off the mature tree under a load of plums. 

How to Prune Pyramid Plum Trees

If you’ve bought a pyramid plum, pruning will look a little different for these small plants. Fan training is a popular method to spread out the lateral branches of a short tree among horizontal wires. This makes the tree a pretty addition to landscape, and makes tree maintenance easy.

Here’s the process to prune a pyramid plum tree:

  1. In the first year, cut a new tree to about 2 feet above soil level a, right above a bud. Make sure there are at least four buds below the cut.
  2. In the second year, cut the main stem back about 12-20 inches. Lateral shoots will have grown from the buds you left the previous season. Prune all these lateral shoots to a bud, about 10 inches long.
  3. If you’re using a fan training system, remove any branches to the front or back of your central leader and tie lateral branches to your horizontal wires.
  4. Prune the mature pyramid plum by cutting back the central leader 12-20 inches to control height, and prune lateral branches back as necessary.
  5. As always, remove dead, diseased, or crossing branches.

How to Prune a Japanese Plum Tree

Japanese plum trees should be pruned to a vase shape. This means you’ll have scaffold limbs pointing out from around a central trunk with an open center. 

Here’s the step-by-step process to prune a plum tree of any Japanese variety: 

  1. The first year, you’ll have a pruning whip or young tree that basically looks like a stick with buds. Prune the stem back to two or three feet above the ground. After the branches have grown a few inches, choose vigorous shoots as lateral branches of your scaffold whorl. Lateral branches should be evenly spaced around the tree. 
  2. The first two or three years, cut back the scaffold whorl to 1 bud at the top and 2 buds at the bottom. 
  3. Prune out diseased material or damaged wood, and crossing branches. Make clean cuts. 
  4. Starting at the lowest limb, cut off suckers, water sprouts, and any shoots or stems growing in towards the center of the tree or on the trunk below the scaffold limbs. Also remove any secondary growth on the scaffold limbs within half a foot from the trunk. Leave upright shoots that are directed outward. 
  5. Cut off one half to one third of one-year-old shoots from the previous season to avoid overproduction of fruit. 
  6. Cut back scaffold limbs and upright limbs to a manageable height. Non-dwarf plum trees can grow twenty to thirty feet tall, so cut back tree height so you can pick plums. Plus, this activates phytohormones that will encourage fruit growth in the lower tree branches. 

How to Prune a European Plum Tree

European plum trees should be pruned to a central leader shape. In a central leader pruning system, scaffold branches surround a single upright branch that is an extension of the trunk. In the summer, you’ll notice the tree canopy forms a pyramid shape. 

Here’s the step-by-step process to prune a plum tree of any European variety: 

  1. The first year, cut back a pruning whip to 28-36 inches above the ground. Choose an upright branch as the central leader, and a few evenly spaced branches to form the scaffold whorl. 
  2. In the second and third years, choose strong and evenly spaced lateral shoots to become more scaffold branches. Keep these lateral branches cut back to about 10 inches, or 2 buds. This concentrates growth into the central leader. 
  3. In the first two or three years, cut the scaffold whorl branches at the top of the tree to one bud, and the bottom branches to two buds.  
  4. After three or four years the tree will likely be growing tall. Prune back the trunk 12 – 20 inches at a bud each year so fruit and vegetative buds concentrate in the bottom tree branches. 
  5. Every year, cut out dead, diseased, or damaged branches. Also remove unproductive shoots and any crossing branches. 
  6. Cut off suckers and watersprouts at their source. 
  7. If the tree is still too tall or bushy, cut out old growth and secondary branches that grow inwards. Upright branches can be trimmed in length. 

Tips for Pruning a Plum Tree

If the step-by-step pruning process didn’t answer all your questions about how to prune a plum tree, check out some of the common concerns below. No matter what type of tree you have, these pruning hints will help you troubleshoot. 

How should I prune an overgrown plum tree?

An overgrown plum tree can seem like an intimidating bunch of branches and sticks. It is a major pruning job, but don’t worry! Within a few years you can detangle your tree and get it to a manageable height.  

Here are five steps for pruning an overgrown plum tree: 

  1. Remove crossing or dead branches and diseased limbs. 
  2. Thin out the tree. Keep in mind the proper shape you are going for. Cut out excess lateral growth and any stems directed inwards. 
  3. Can you see through the tree yet? If not, thin it out some more. 
  4. Prune lower branches to be parallel with the ground and upwards facing. 
  5. Cut tall branches down in height so fruit is produced in a reachable location. 

Why does my plum tree not have fruit? 

There are five factors that might lead to a fruitless plum tree. The good news is that most of these problems are easy to fix! 

  1. Your tree might need a cross-pollinating variety. Look up whether your variety needs a pollinator, and if so, plant another compatible plum tree within 50 to 75 feet.
  2. Do you have a bird problem? If birds are eating your plums, wrap the tree in bird netting. This shouldn’t affect light levels or air circulation as long as you choose a netting that isn’t mesh.  
  3. Plum trees can bear fruit biennially, with a huge crop one year and few plums the next. Prune a plum tree properly to thin out the fruit for more even production. Fertilize your tree to ensure it is getting all the nutrients it needs to bear fruit each year. 
  4. The flower buds on your tree may have experienced freeze damage. This happens to the best fruit growers. Next year, if the temperature is going to drop below 32 degrees Fahrenheit, wrap a light cloth or a black plastic sheet over the tree to make a tent that will keep it warm. 
  5. Does the tree get enough sunlight? Plum trees need sun to produce fruit. If the tree is still young, you might be able to move it. If not, plant a new tree. 

Should I prune a plum tree if it might be diseased? 

Fungus and bacteria are some of the worst pests that can plague a plum tree. Bacterial canker, leaf spot, Silver Leaf fungus, and other diseases can ravage a plum tree. The best way to manage these diseases is to remove unhealthy branches immediately, and carefully choose the time you prune.  Inform yourself on plum tree diseases!

If fungal diseases plague your plum tree, remove diseased limbs and try pruning at a different time of year. Dormant pruning or summer pruning might be the right choice depending on which season is drier where you live. 

How do I choose the right pruning angle for scaffold limbs? 

Scaffold limbs should be at a 10 o’clock angle (about 45 degrees). As mentioned earlier, a sharper crotch angle will be prone to breakage, and a flat horizontal limb can drag fruit on the ground. 

Now You Know How to Prune a Plum Tree!

Learning how to prune a plum tree is a simple, necessary, and rewarding experience. Just remember the shape you should aim for.

Excited for more plum content? Then check out our plum trees page for the latest growing tips, care guides, recipes, and more!

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How to Prune Plum Trees

An Essential Task for Quality Fruit Production

By

David Beaulieu

David Beaulieu

David Beaulieu is a landscaping expert and plant photographer, with 20 years of experience. He was in the nursery business for over a decade, working with a large variety of plants. David has been interviewed by numerous newspapers and national U.S. magazines, such as Woman's World and American Way.

Learn more about The Spruce's Editorial Process

Updated on 06/21/22

Reviewed by

Andrew Hughes

Reviewed by Andrew Hughes

Andrew Hughes is a certified arborist and member of the International Society of Arborists specializing in tree heal care. He founded and runs Urban Loggers, LLC, a company offering residential tree services in the Midwest and Connecticut.

Learn more about The Spruce's Review Board

The Spruce / Michele Lee

Project Overview

Plum trees are deciduous, flowering trees. They can be grown in soil of average fertility and moisture levels. Plant them in a spot that drains well and is in full sun. 

The European plum tree (Prunus domestica) has been selected for this project. It is best grown in zones 5 to 9. It can become about 15 feet tall and should start to produce fruit three to five years after it is first planted. European plums are sweet and flavorful. The fruits can be eaten fresh, canned, or dried to produce prunes. Pruning the tree properly is essential for quality fruit production.

Why European Plum Trees Are a Great Choice

There is more than one type of plum tree, and the degree of maintenance involved is one consideration when choosing between the different types. European plum trees require less pruning than the more vigorous Japanese plum trees (P. salicina) and are thus a better choice for those who place a high priority on lower landscape maintenance.

There are two other reasons for Northern gardeners to select a European plum tree (rather than a Japanese plum tree) besides lower maintenance. The European plum tree blooms later, so there is less chance of frost damage, and is more often self-fertile (but always ask at the nursery before buying), eliminating the need to grow another tree as a pollinator.

Even European plum trees need some pruning to achieve the best harvest possible. The good news is that such pruning is fairly easy, takes little time annually, and is quite affordable after the initial outlay involved in buying a few, inexpensive tools.

Why You Should Prune Plum Trees

There are many reasons to prune plum trees, and the relevance of these reasons will depend on factors such as the age of your tree and the time of the year. Pruning in early spring stimulates new growth. Prune in summer to restrict the size of the plant and open up its interior (canopy). Opening up the canopy of the tree (and restricting its size) through pruning, will, in turn, help in a number of ways:

  • It promotes good air circulation, which reduces the chances of disease.
  • The removal of dead, damaged, or diseased limbs also minimizes disease, as does the removal of crossing limbs that rub against each other (potentially opening up wounds that invite disease).
  • The fruit gets more sunlight, helping it grow larger and improving its flavor.
  • The increased sunlight also helps the newest branches to prosper.
  • The plums will be easier for you to reach at harvest time because you will be working with a tree that is shorter and has fewer cross branches to impede your reach.
  • Pruning to favor long, lateral branches will maximize fruit production.

Opening up the canopy is hugely important for older trees but obviously is not applicable to young trees (which have no canopy to speak of yet). But, in addition to the stimulation of new growth, young trees derive a critical benefit from pruning: shaping. It is when a plum tree is young that you have to pay the most attention to pruning it in such a way as to create a framework of branches conducive to the tree's long-term health, to the production of well-formed fruit, and to ease of harvesting that fruit.

When to Prune Plum Trees

When you prune a plum tree depends, in part, on the stage of development of the tree. For young trees that you are in the process of shaping, do just one pruning in early spring. For mature trees, to which you have already given the proper shape, prune once in mid-summer (prune lightly, except for those rare occasions on which you need to remove one of the tree's major branches because it has been damaged by an ice storm in winter).

There are specific reasons for the timing of pruning young trees in early spring: It stimulates the formation of new branches at the outset of the growing season, giving them the best chance to grow substantially that year. The wounds made will have less time to heal before the tree starts to grow vigorously in spring, during which period the tree's healing powers are at their highest and small wounds heal relatively quickly.

The earliest pruning done on a plum tree is typically already done at the nursery (to make sure, ask them) before you buy it there in spring; when you get home, all you have to do is plant it. It is a radical pruning in which the trunk (leader) is headed back to about 30 inches tall.

The concern here over healing especially regards to a fungal disease to which plums are susceptible, known as "silver leaf" (Chondrostereum purpureum). Silver leaf exploits pruning wounds to gain entry to a tree's branches. It results in silvering of the infected branch's leaves. It can eventually kill the branch.

Tip

When pruning plum trees, frequently spray disinfectant (wiping it off each time with clean paper towels) on your cutting tool in between cuts and keep your cutting tools sharp so that you can make clean cuts. Messy cuts invite disease.

Equipment / Tools

  • Bypass pruners
  • Loppers
  • Pruning saw
  • Stepladder
  • Set of work gloves

Materials

  • Can or bottle of disinfectant
  • Paper towels

The Spruce / Michele Lee

  1. Create First Scaffold Whorl on the Plum Tree

    The next spring, you have three different pruning jobs to perform: Remove all but the best branches, shorten these "best" branches, and head back to the leader again.

    Look over the plum tree and determine what its four best branches are at a level of about 18 to 24 inches up from the ground. These are the ones you will keep, pruning off the rest almost all the way back to the trunk, leaving just the branch collar. The "best" branches point upwards from the trunk at roughly a 45-degree angle, are well-formed and disease-free, and spaced at about an equal distance from each other on the horizontal plane (for example, think of a North-facing, an East-facing, a South-facing, and a West-facing limb).

    Even on the vertical plane, these branches should not be too close together; ensure 6 to 12 inches of space between them on this plane.

    Together, they are said to comprise a "scaffold whorl," because they are primary (scaffold) limbs and form a circular arrangement of like parts.

    Reduce the length of each of the four scaffold branches by about half (but make sure each is left with at least a couple of buds). Cut right above the outermost bud that will remain. Reduce the height of the leader by a foot or two, making your cut just above a bud. From this uppermost bud, the new leader will emerge.

    The Spruce / Michele Lee

  2. Create Second Scaffold Whorl on the Plum Tree

    The pruning operation the next spring will be similar. The idea will be to create a second scaffold whorl, located about a foot above the uppermost branch of the first scaffold whorl.

    Again, reduce the height of the leader by a foot or two, making your cut just above a bud. Also, repeat the process of selecting the "best" limbs to serve as scaffold branches, using the same criteria as for the first set. The difference this time is that you also have to ensure that this second set is situated such that none of the four branches is growing directly over a scaffold branch in the first set.

    Prune back the limbs in the first scaffold whorl by half again, as well as the limbs in the second scaffold whorl. Because the latter are younger, this halving will still leave them shorter than the limbs in the first scaffold whorl. The result is a Christmas tree shape.

    The Spruce / Michele Lee

  3. Perform Maintenance Pruning on Older Plum Trees

    From that point on, pruning is more subjective. Once the plum tree reaches the height you want it to stay at, head the leader back (so that it can't exceed that height) and do not allow a new leader to form.

    Prune in summer as needed to keep the canopy from getting overcrowded. Make your cuts back to outward facing leaf buds, because you want new growth to radiate out from the center of the canopy to prevent overcrowding. Leaf buds can be distinguished from flower buds as follows: The latter are the bigger and plumper of the two.

    Keep an eye out for spurs. Spurs are groupings of (mainly) flower buds on short, knobby branches sticking out of older limbs. Spurs more than one year old are the source of all your fruit, so make sure you do not mistakenly prune them off.

    The Spruce / Michele Lee

6 Tips for Growing Fruit Trees in Containers

Proper plum cutting - tips for beginners (diagrams, photos, videos)

The formation of a plum crown is not easy and very important. If the tree is not pruned correctly, the harvest will be poor. To prevent this from happening, find out how and when to prune plums in the garden.

Pruning and shaping of plums is carried out to increase fruiting. A thickened crown negatively affects the condition of the plant. The tree becomes sensitive to cold, in winter it risks freezing. Excess branches create a shadow and thus prevent the proper formation of fruits.

Young plums are pruned for the first time at the moment of planting, after which they are done regularly throughout the life of the plant. At the same time, the crown is formed up to about 15 years, and then only dry and diseased branches are removed, young shoots are not touched. Then the tree bears fruit well even in old age.

Plum pruning in spring

The most important pruning of the plant is in the spring. The tree is pruned in late March - early April, when the frosts have already passed, but the buds of the plant have not yet woken up and sap flow has not begun. In the spring, all frozen, damaged and improperly growing (inside the crown) branches are cut into the ring, and the crown is thinned out and the growth of the previous year is shortened by 1/3. It is on these shoots that the plum will bear fruit.

Plum pruning scheme in spring

In the southern regions, you can start pruning plums in late February - early March, but the air temperature should not be lower than 10°C.

How to properly remove unwanted branches from a tree in spring is shown in a very informative video of plum pruning.

During the first 5 years, a sparse-tiered crown is formed. In the first year, a trunk zone is measured on a seedling (40-60 cm from the ground), 6-7 more buds are counted above it and the top is cut off. In the second year, the first tier is formed from the buds located above the trunk. 2-4 well-located lower shoots are left on the tree, extending from the trunk at an angle of at least 60 degrees. All shoots that appear in the trunk area are regularly cut into a ring.

A year or two later, a second tier is laid above the first tier, consisting of 1-2 branches (at a height of 20-30 cm from the upper branch of the first tier). If necessary, a third tier of 1-2 branches is also formed above.

It is also possible to shape the crown into a bowl. At the same time, 3-4 main branches are left, which are located relative to the trunk at an angle of 60-90 degrees at a height of 40-50 cm from the ground. The central conductor is cut out during this shaping.

Plum pruning is carried out with a sharp pruner, and all cuts are treated with garden pitch.

Summer pruning of plums

Pruning of plums in summer is carried out when planting a seedling. In this case, the main trunk (central conductor) is cut by 1/3, and the side branches are shortened by 2/3.

Mature plants are pruned in June-July. Summer pruning is predominantly sanitary in nature: branches are removed that have frozen during the winter, but were not recognized as damaged during spring pruning. Now, when flowers and fruits have not formed on these shoots, they can be safely cut out.

Also, in summer, young, strictly vertical shoots are cut into a ring (you can break them off with your hands) and branches, on which signs of disease have appeared.

And shoots growing horizontally are left.

Cuts of young shoots heal quickly, so they do not need to be covered with garden pitch.

How to prune a plum in the summer, see the following video:

Plum pruning in autumn

The tree is pruned in mid-September - early October (after leaf fall) so that it has time to prepare for wintering. Long and fast-growing branches are shortened by a third so that they do not break under the weight of snow and gusty winds. If necessary, you can shorten the top of the tree. All damaged and broken shoots are also cut out, since they are more susceptible to frost than others. In addition, dry and diseased branches are pruned at the old plum at this time.

All plum shoots removed in autumn should be burned, because dangerous pests can settle in them for the winter.

In regions with mild winters, not only sanitary, but also formative pruning can be carried out in autumn. However, in the unstable climate of the middle zone, it is better to postpone this matter until spring.

Peculiarities of pruning an old plum tree

When new shoots stop growing on an old tree, old skeletal branches are cut down in early spring, and the places of cuts are carefully cleaned and covered with garden pitch. New shoots soon form at the cut site, of which only 3 or 4 of the strongest are left, the rest are removed in the middle of summer.

Please note: It is not recommended to prune a large number of old branches at the same time. Otherwise, the tree will not survive such severe stress and will die. Anti-aging pruning is best stretched for 2-3 years.

Columnar plum pruning

The columnar plum has a compact crown. The fruits on such a tree do not grow on spreading branches, but along the trunk, so the side shoots are useless. They are pruned annually.

At the same time, it is important to completely preserve the central conductor of the tree; it is not touched at all. If the top of the main shoot freezes, then additional shoots (two or three) will grow in this place over time. In this case, one, the most developed, is left, and the rest are removed.

To get a good harvest of fruits, you need not only to cut the plum correctly, but also to properly care for the tree throughout the year. Read about the intricacies of caring for this plant in the article Growing plums in the garden - all about planting, watering, fertilizing and processing.

how and when it is more correct to carry out the procedure, pruning scheme, formation Otherwise, the yield may be significantly reduced, gum will begin to exude from the tree, and the growth of branches will become erratic.

Table of contents

  • When to prune a plum tree: tips for beginners
    • In spring: correct crown formation
    • In summer
    • Pruning scheme in autumn
    • Unusual methods
    How to care for a tree after?

When to prune plums: tips for beginners

Plums need annual, systematic pruning to keep the tree healthy and fruitful. It is necessary to carry out such work according to the scheme - in spring, summer and autumn.

Each period is extremely important for the plum tree, pruning performs certain functions that maintain the vitality of the plum tree.

The spring period is considered the most favorable for the procedure. Usually, gardeners appoint such work for the end of March and the beginning of April, when the air temperature will already be warm, and the vegetative processes will not have time to begin.

In the spring, young shoots that grow in the wrong direction and old branches that should not bear fruit are clearly visible on the plum tree.

The summer held in June is indicative of heavily crowned branches because they are best seen when the foliage is lush.

Autumn is carried out for sanitary purposes . Such work is performed immediately after leaf fall.

If the deadlines have been missed, then it is better to postpone the pruning to autumn, because the fresh place of the cut quickly freezes and in its place a gum disease and a frost hole form.

Each period has its advantages and disadvantages, due to which a certain time of the year is suitable for the performance of certain works.

Some gardeners also practice winter pruning plums, but this type of work is unusual and quite specific.

In spring: correct crown formation

During the first three years of a plum's life in spring, it is necessary to form the correct shape of its crown, because the quality and volume of fruiting depends on it. If you skip such work, then the branches will grow randomly and chaotically.

Usually, for plums, a crown made in the form of a tier 9 is chosen0082 . That is, 6-8 of the most powerful and thickest branches that grow at a distance of 15-20 centimeters from each other should act as the basis.

They should also be evenly spaced throughout the trunk, with an ideal growth angle of 50 degrees.

In order to receive such a crown, for 3 years, perform the following actions:

    1. In the first year of life of plums, all lateral branches must be completely removed and the central conductor cut to a length of 60 centimeters.
    2. In the second year of , the central conductor is shortened by 40-50 centimeters, including the upper kidney, which should be above the cut. The lower side branches are cut almost completely, leaving only 7 cm stumps. The remaining side shoots are shortened by a third of the total length.

As soon as the main, skeletal branches begin to appear, you need to carefully monitor that their angle of inclination from the trunk is within 50-60 degrees. Unsuitable branches should be completely removed.

  1. For the third year of life of , 6-8 skeletal branches must be selected, all other shoots are removed. On the remaining branches, it is allowed to leave no more than 4 buds.
Scheme of spring pruning of a plum tree

Further spring pruning of a plum tree will maintain the correct shape of the crown :

  • remove all irregularly growing branches that grow inside the crown or are located at an obtuse angle;
  • in the presence of a too lush crown, it will need to be thinned out, while removing old branches on which fruits will no longer be tied;
  • in order to help the plum form new fruit branches, it is necessary to halve all last year's growths;
  • also in the spring, the tree is inspected for all kinds of damage, most often at this stage, broken or frozen branches that have suffered during the winter are removed.

Those branches on which the birds have damaged the kidneys are subject to mandatory removal.

The spring procedure is carried out on a calm, calm, clear day, when the air temperature is consistently above +10 degrees.

Spring work is considered the most important and necessary because this period is the most favorable and safe for tree health.

In summer

Summer pruning is carried out in June or July . Only young trees that are just forming their crown are subjected to this procedure.

For adult plums, summer pruning can be detrimental and is recommended only as a last resort, such as when a disease is detected.

In the first year of life all branches are shortened to a length of 20 centimeters. Starting from the second year , extra branches are removed completely.

In the warm season there is a huge risk of infection with infectious diseases, so summer pruning can protect the tree from such problems.

In summer, pruning is carried out in case of emergency, for example, when a disease is detected

Pruning scheme in autumn

Autumn pruning is carried out after leaf fall when all vegetative processes end and the tree is at rest. Usually, such work is performed in mid-September.

Beginners should remember that this procedure should not be shelved, because the tree must have time to get stronger before the onset of cold weather. In regions with severe winters, it is advisable to transfer such work to spring.

Autumn pruning is divided into three types and depends on the age of the tree:

  • in the first year after planting in autumn, the central conductor of the plum tree is shortened by one third of the total length, and the remaining branches by two thirds;
  • Regulating - performed for trees of all ages. During it, the crown is discharged, and all rapidly growing or incorrectly growing branches are removed;
  • starting from the 4th year of the tree , rejuvenating pruning is carried out every 4-5 years, during which all old and unnecessary branches that no longer bear fruit are removed.
Autumn pruning is carried out in September, after leaf fall, before the onset of cold weather

After the first fruiting, autumn pruning is either not performed at all, or only the most problematic branches are removed.

Also an integral part of autumn tree care will be sanitary pruning, during which all diseased and damaged branches that can provoke the death of the entire tree are removed.

Cut branches are recommended to be collected and burned so that infection or other pathogens and insects do not spread throughout the area.

Unusual methods

Specific plum pruning methods that differ from standard work include winter pruning and processing of old trees .

Winter pruning is rapidly gaining popularity among gardeners living in the southern regions.

The implementation of such work is that all spring work is transferred to mid-February , but the air temperature must be above 10-12 degrees.

The advantages of such work include the fact that at this time there are definitely no buds on the plum, which is why the tree experiences less stress. Also, frozen branches are easier to cut, and the risk of wood galling is minimized.

Winter pruning is only available to gardeners who live in warm areas with a mild climate.

Winter pruning is available only to those gardeners who live in warm areas with a mild climate

Particular attention should be paid to pruning old trees , because they, just like the elderly, need careful and delicate care:

  • such work perform in early spring, after the plant turns 12-15 years old;
  • pruning is usually extended over 3-4 years so that the tree can gradually recover;
  • to improve fruiting, every year remove all dry and diseased shoots that unnecessarily thicken the crown of the tree and prevent the formation of new branches;
  • throughout the entire rejuvenating period, all excess frame branches are gradually removed, whose number on average should not exceed 8-10 pieces. When performing such work, the branches are filed on both sides in order to avoid unexpected breakage and make the cut point smoother and even.

How to care for a tree after?

In order for the plum to endure the pruning procedure as easily as possible, first you need to learn how to make the right cuts , which should be made at an angle equal to 45 degrees, and the last kidney should be at a distance of 5-10 centimeters.

All such work must be carried out only with sharp and disinfected garden tools, which include a knife, saw and lopper.

In order for the wounds on the tree to heal faster and not be subjected to various diseases , they are initially cleaned with a sharp knife and treated with copper sulphate. Then they are lubricated with garden pitch, oil paint or any other regenerating means.

In order for the tree to recover faster after spring pruning, it must be fed with phosphorus, potash or nitrogen fertilizers.


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