How to prune jujube tree

How To Prune A Jujube Tree {A Detailed Guide} — Farm & Animals

Jujube trees are described as being precocious growers, meaning they can put on a lot of new growth in a single year. Most Jujube trees are also heavy croppers, so it can be disheartening if half the fruit is out of reach. For this reason, it’s best to keep your Jujube tree well pruned each year to maintain a manageable size and make the fruit easy to harvest. Here we will look at how to prune a Jujube tree to keep it under control.

What You'll Learn Today

  • How And When To Prune Jujube Tree?
    • Equipment:
    • Step By Step Process:
  • How Big Will A Jujube Tree Grow?
    • How Tall Is A 2-Year-Old Jujube Tree?
  • How To Train A Jujube Tree?
    • Weighing Down Branches
  • Conclusion

How And When To Prune Jujube Tree?

Where some fruit trees benefit from little pruning, the Jujube tree will need some annual attention to keep it from getting too large.

Pruning is usually done once the leaves have fallen from the tree in early winter and before the new buds burst in spring. Ideally, the tree should be completely dormant.

It can sometimes be helpful to give a second light pruning in early spring before the blossoms appear if it has already put on a lot of growth.

Summer pruning is effective for thinning overcrowded branches that have sprouted new shoots or cutting out any diseased or damaged wood and suckers.


  • Sturdy gloves – Jujube trees can be thorny
  • Safety goggles 
  • Tough, long-sleeved clothing and long pants, boots, or sensible shoes
  • Sharp, clean cutting tools – pruners, loppers, pruning saw
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Clean rags

To get your young Jujube to produce fruit as quickly as possible, careful pruning is necessary. 

You can safely cut 20% to 50% of a young Jujube tree without causing it harm.

Jujube are prone to producing suckers, and these should be removed as soon as they appear.

You are ideally looking to remove any crossed, overlapping, or dense branches that reduce the amount of light that can penetrate through the tree’s canopy.

Step By Step Process:

Maintaining good ventilation is also important to help protect against fungal diseases.

  1. Start by ensuring all of your pruning tools are clean and sharp. You should wipe the blades with a rag dipped in rubbing alcohol to help keep things sterile and prevent spreading disease through your tree.
  1. Be sure to select the best tool for the size of the branch you are going to cut. Thin branches can be removed easily with pruners, but as soon as the diameter gets bigger, you’ll need to switch to loppers or even a pruning saw.
  1. A pole pruner can be used for particularly spiny varieties of Jujube trees, especially when cutting the interior branches.
  1. Remove any suckers from around the trunk or that can also appear several feet away from the tree. If you don’t remove them, they can quickly become established in your lawn. 
  1. Now look for and remove any broken, damaged, or diseased branches.
  1. Next, cut out any thin, overlapping, or close-growing branches or twigs.
  1. Keep stepping away from the tree and looking at the overall shape and where things look too bunched up. You want to open things up.
  1. Cut the ends off very long branches to bring them back to a better length. Also, cut back any secondary branches growing from them.
  1. Try to encourage the weeping habit of the tree as this makes picking fruit easier than when branches are growing straight up.
  1. Ideally, you want four of five primary branches coming from the trunk at a reasonably open-angle and not too close together. On these should be secondary branches that are again not too close and growing outwards.
  1. Getting this basic framework in place when the tree is young will make pruning as it gets older much easier. Overall, create a pleasing open shape. 

In this video, you can see how to do a winter pruning on some young Jujube trees: can’t be loaded because JavaScript is disabled: Pruning Jujube Trees: Permanent & Non-Permanent Branches (

How Big Will A Jujube Tree Grow?

Jujube trees can reach heights of around 30 to 40 feet depending on the cultivar, climate, and growing conditions. There are some varieties available that don’t grow so tall and may be better suited to smaller yards.

You can limit the size of your Jujube with regular pruning. 

How Tall Is A 2-Year-Old Jujube Tree?

The height your Jujube reaches each year will depend on a number of factors.

  1. Variety of Jujube trees. If grown on a dwarfing rootstock, the tree will grow proportionately less each year than a tree grown on a standard rootstock.
  2. Growing conditions include soil, water, food, and climate.
  3. Pruning can be used to limit the height of the tree, and if you made a heading cut when you planted your young Jujube, then it is likely to be smaller than if you didn’t. 

As a rough guide, a young Jujube will usually grow at a rate of around 4 feet to 6 feet per year when it is young. It will take approximately 30 years to reach its mature height. So a two-year-old Jujube tree will generally be about 8 feet tall.

How To Train A Jujube Tree?

Training your Jujube fruit trees while they are young is essential if you want to achieve the right shape. Different forms include:

  • Central leader – which has the main trunk growing up through the center of the tree with scaffolding branches coming off from it.
  • Modified leader – where the central leader has been topped off above the main scaffolding branches. 
  • Open center – this is when the central leader is completely removed low down, and several scaffolding branches that are growing out at an open angle are selected as the main structure.
  • Graduated open center – this is like the open center, only the scaffolding branches are further apart up the trunk of the tree, which makes them stronger and less likely to snap off when the tree gets a little older.

The natural growth habit of a young Jujube is to grow upward towards the stars! They can put on a lot of vertical growth from their central leader in one year. 

They don’t usually grow many side branches.

If the central leader is cut, then another branch will usually grow from just below the cut in the next growing season. If this branch is then tipped, the tree is stimulated to develop a new strong branch from somewhere else on the tree. 

This can be used to your advantage to stimulate new primary branches up the trunk. Be aware that they too will initially want to grow vertically, and this can form a very closed crotch angle to the trunk, which will make the branch weak as it grows, and break off.

Weighing Down Branches

When the branch is still young and flexible, it can be weighted down to encourage a more open crotch angle.  

The best way to do this is to put something heavy on the ground and then, using twine, tie the branch down to the angle you want it to grow at. 

Don’t wrap the twine tightly around the branch. Instead, make a loop in the twine, then put the end over the branch and tie this back to the loop.

Over several years, you can train your Jujube to the desired shape. This can include a central leader or may be in an open vase shape, which is ideal for Jujube if you want to keep them from growing too tall.

You want around four to six primary branches that come from the trunk in a spiral, so they are well spaced with no branch being directly over another. This allows lots of light to penetrate and air to circulate.

  1. Year one – when the tree is dormant, cut the central leader to about two to three feet. If there is a strong branch, or branches coming out below this that are at or can be trained to be at an open angle, leave them in place and remove everything else.
  1. Year twoIn the winter, cut the end off the new primary branch that grew over the previous summer. Look at how other branches you left in place last year grew and decide if they are good enough to retain as a main scaffolding branch. If not, remove them.
  1. Year twoIn the summer, look at the new branch growth. If the primary branch that is growing is at a closed angle, weigh it down.
  1. Year three – In winter cut the end off of the primary branch to again stimulate growth from elsewhere to develop in the spring. 
  1. Year three – In summer, look at the established branches and new branches, remembering you are trying to grow them in a spiral around the trunk with an open vase shape. Remove any branches that are growing inwards or with very closed angles unless you can open them up by weighing them down.
  1. Continued pruning – Once you have your scaffolding branches in place, prune to maintain the open shape. 

If you live in a slightly colder climate or if space is limited, you may opt to train your Jujube against a south-facing wall to increase warmth, which will help with fruiting. Alternatively, you may want to grow it along wires, so it can be kept very confined.

The most familiar shapes to train a Jujube in this way are Y, pillar, espalier, spindle, and dwarf pyramid. 


The Jujube growth habit can be a little tricky to begin with, as it wants to grow straight upwards when it is young. 

By spending time each year to get a good graduated open vase shape, you can keep the tree at a controlled height and ensure that light and air can penetrate and circulate. This is important for the health of the tree and the ripening of the fruits.

Once the shape of the tree is established, as it gets older, it will naturally take on an attractive weeping form.

If you’re interested in learning more about growing and taking care of Jujube trees, please refer to our other articles. We also have information on a huge range of interesting subjects available on our blog. 

Pruning jujube to an open vase / center - General Fruit Growing



I’ve grown jujubes for a few years and read a bit about how their branching works recently (primary shoots, secondary shoots, mother bearing shoots). I’ve also read the “one cut stops, two cuts shoot” pruning advice. Still, I’m having a hard time visualizing how one might train a jujube to make it a open vase shape.

Has anyone on the forum tried it?

The only thing I can think might work is to allow the primary shoot to grow quite a ways and produce a bunch of secondary shoots. Then you’d head the primary shoot and head every secondary shoot down below it to presumably create a bunch of primary shoots from the secondary shoots that were pruned off. Those new primary shoots would then become the primary scaffold limbs. Would that work?

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you got that down to a T.

beheading apical growth of primary( perennial upright growth) stems will encourage fruiting on the secondary(horizontal/lateral) growth. The closer the laterals are trimmed to the trunk, the more likely that upright growth may develop from the node neath every lateral, or even develop from the lateral growth nodes themselves(typically from the nodes closest to the lateral nodes’ bases).
the ‘one cut stops, two cuts sprouts’ usually only applies to younger specimens with underdeveloped roots. Older specimens , especially sihong, contorted, lang, and li which receive >9 hrs direct sunlight every summer, will be rebellious to the chinese saying and will branch out vigorously and densely, even leafing out from adventitious buds in the most unlikely places. But the general rule is to simply behead the apices of all upright growth to encourage a bushy stance.
jujus tolerate pruning well, since these are capable of fruiting on same-year growth, even on new growth after severe pruning




This is great, thank you for confirming! Do you prune any of your jujubes to an open vase? I’m thinking that I’d prune that way to keep the fruit low for easy picking.

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if there’s one more thing we like about jujus, is that they don’t really need pruning. They have self-pruning systems, as the fruiting branches(lateral growth) are semi-deciduous or deciduous after a few years, and trees are extremely productive no matter what.

apart from our admitted laziness, we also would rather have our trees grow tall, since we live in the desert and need as much natural shade as we could possibly have during summer. Since they lose their leaves in winter, the zigzag branches also form attractive canopies whilst also letting as much radiant heat from the sun at that time of year when we actually need it. Here, jujus slow down in growth at 15-20 feet, and instead prioritize fruiting in exchange for vegetative growth, developing longer-lasting lateral branches with large fruiting spurs.

in korea and some parts of china, they do prune their trees much like how you’ve posted it, for ease of harvesting. They keep theirs at ~7 feet tall. And as you’ve mentioned, removing the apices of all upright growth helps slow down vegetative growth, but does not compromise fruiting of remaining branches.

probably the most resilient of deciduous fruiting trees.




With respect to the rule for jujube that “one cut stops, two cuts shoot”, what if there are no lateral branches to cut? I planted a bare root jujube this winter that came as a whip that already had a heading cut at about 36". Can I expect new growth along the stem/trunk, or was this heading cut a very bad idea? Thanks for shedding light on this concern as I wait for it for the tree to break dormancy



If there are no laterals, then all the more for the specimen to grow upright stems from the nodes neath base of laterals(that were cut). The only thing that would limit growth would be if the rootballs were severely pruned, if you recived them as bareroots. The specimen will leaf out but often will have stunted growth --short interstems with short laterals, as it tries to prioritize root growth instead of vegetative growth. Some might just produce deciduous fruiting branches and not even produce lignified stems, especially if severely lacking in fine root hairs. The fruiting branches of such specimens will likely skip on bearing flowers or if they do, will not bear fruit and instead devote all photosynthesized energy to growing roots.
Fruiting may be on hold for the entire growing season



This tree was received in 2016 as a 36 inch whip. I haven’t exactly pruned it but I have taken some scions From the uprights the last two years. First year it didn’t put out a lot of branching but it also bore 8 fruit. Second year it grew a lot. It could probably use some pruning. I’m not a big pruner…

image1280×958 517 KB

Sorry about the orientation




Beautiful natural form! That’s awesome with no pruning.

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Thank you! @jujubemulberry @k8tpayaso

The tree is starting to break bud and I’m excited to sit back and see how its form unfurls.

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Jujube has the most nutritious fruits! How to grow and care for

One of the most nutritious fruit and berry plants in the world, real jujube or jujube jujube, also known as "Chinese date", feels great in dry hot, humid warm and even in cool temperate climates with frosts up to - 32°C. Gardeners, summer residents, collectors of exotic plants who dream of creating a rich, fruitful, multi-fruit garden on their land, plant a marmalade tree!

Greg-Blick /

Sowing of jujube seeds is carried out after 2-3 months of stratification in the refrigerator at +1+5°C. To do this, the seeds without pulp must be dried, in this form, store them until December in the refrigerator. In December, cover the unabi seeds with wet sand so that there is 2-3 times more sand than seeds. It is better to take sand from a hill in a pine forest from a depth of half a meter. Mix the mixture of sand and seeds well so that it is loose, pour everything into a jar so that 1/3 of it remains empty. Put in the refrigerator until March. In early March, sow the seeds in boxes with a standard 1:1 mixture of peat and sand to a depth of 1.5 cm. It is necessary to monitor soil moisture, drying out the soil slows down germination, overflowing water leads to the death of seeds. The box should be in a well-lit place (south window) at room temperature + 24 ° C, in this mode, the sprouts sprout within a month. Seed germination is highly dependent on their age and storage conditions prior to stratification. Sometimes stone fruits are scarified by sawing the shell, but from personal experience, this has little effect on seed germination. Growing a fruit tree from seeds in stone fruit crops is usually accompanied by the inheritance of varietal characteristics of the parent tree by 80-90%. But jujube is also propagated by cuttings and root offspring, since an adult tree gives some shoots. In this case, varietal characteristics are preserved 100%. Vegetative propagation is no more difficult than that of currants or raspberries.

Sergey Gorely / Personal archive

Growing "Chinese date" in the Middle lane, you need to choose the brightest and warmest place in order to provide the required amount of active temperatures (CAT) for fruit ripening, which for early-ripening jujube varieties fluctuates around 2500 °. In culture, unabi are maintained at a height of 2-4 m, which is exactly what is needed between neighboring seedlings. At the same time, some gardeners plant 2 seedlings in one planting hole. In the future, the plants grow together with trunks and form a wide crown. If in your region the frosts are annually more than -30 ° С, then it is better to form the unabi as a shrub so that it is easier to cover it for the winter.

Dig a hole 30 cm wider and deeper than the pot for a jujube seedling on loose soils. On heavy dense clay soils, a planting pit 1 m deep and wide is needed to fill it with loose drainage soil with fertile soil (otherwise the jujube will rot). The best soil mixture for a marmalade tree consists of peat or black soil, sand, compost in a ratio of 1:2:1. After planting, the seedling is watered with water and mulched with organic matter (straw, hay, wood chips, etc.). Watering is necessary once every 1-2 weeks only in the first year until the plant reaches a height of more than half a meter. In the future, only during the drought period, once every 2-3 weeks. Mulching the near-stem circle with a thick layer of organic matter allows you to completely abandon the watering of jujube older than 3-4 years.

Robert-Couse-Baker /

Different varieties of unabi withstand different frosts, in order not to miscalculate in the first 2-3 years, young seedlings need to be mulched with straw (during the first frost) and covered with agrofibre (with a stable daily frost - 3-5°C). In the future, according to the timing of the ripening of the bark on the shoots, it will be clear whether it is worth warming the plant - if the shoots are not ripe by September, it is necessary to cover. In other cases, agrofibre insulation is best done when the frosts exceed -20 ° C. The covering material is removed when the air is heated to -3-0°C. Sometimes, for several unabi trees in the Middle Lane, they make a simple unheated greenhouse covered with oilcloth.

Jujube forms a dense crown, densely dense with small young shoots. In fruit-bearing plants, for the full ripening of fruits, thinning pruning is done in March - April, removing thin shoots inside the crown.

Fertilizers are applied both organic and mineral - nitrogen-phosphorus in late spring - early summer, potash or wood ash in late summer. But over-fertilizing can lead to a riot of shoots and foliage that will darken fruit-bearing shoots and most likely will not have time to prepare for winter.

Vahe-Martirosyan /

Unabi has no pests and does not get sick in a good place. He has excellent regeneration, quickly recovers from mechanical damage.

As an indoor culture, jujube is grown in a 10-liter pot near the south window. In such a container, it can grow for 5-7 years without infringement. The soil for indoor jujube needs the same as when planting in open ground. As a fertilizer, it is enough to apply peat chips in May once a year. At home, the unabi is sheared once a year, in winter, during the dormant period. Feels great in winter gardens, greenhouses, loggias, is not afraid of the dry air of apartments. But in winter it is better to keep it indoors with a temperature of + 5 + 10 ° C and minimal watering (1-2 times a month). With a change in temperature and seasonal conditions, even in an apartment, jujube bears fruit.

So, if you want to grow a rich, exotic, multi-fruit, productive garden, plant jujube unabi - a marmalade tree. What will please not only children and grandchildren, but also surprise all neighbors and guests.

Exotic fruit tree jujube: varieties, growing conditions

Another unusually promising fruit and berry crop with high ecological plasticity, immunity, and productivity is jujube jujube. Marmalade fruits will surprise anyone with their taste. A tree for gardeners of all ranks, summer residents of any experience who want to increase the diversity of their orchards and diet, and give another delicious surprise to children and grandchildren.

Robert Couse Baker /

Description . Real jujube, or Chinese, jujube, unabi, “Chinese date”, jojoba, “marmalade tree” ( Ziziphus jujuba ) is a deciduous tree or bush up to 10 m tall (usually up to 3 m in culture) with a spreading crown up to 8 m and a trunk up to 30 cm thick. The root system is deep and wide, so replanting a tree that is more than 5 years old is not recommended. For 7-8 years of life, unabi can produce shoots, perhaps this is its only minus. The bark is thick, which saves the tree from heat and drought, on young shoots the bark is purple-gray. In the Middle lane, bark and wood ripen in October. On the shoots, especially in young plants, there are spines (up to 3 cm long), but they are rare in varietal forms. Maximum increments up to 50 cm/year. In varietal trees, the branches are usually drooping. The leaves are dense, leathery, shiny, dark green, ovoid, up to 8 cm. They bloom late in the middle lane, at the end of May. Leaf fall is also late, in October - November, and the leaves are not afraid of the first autumn frosts, acquiring a yellow color. Foliage sometimes falls along with young shoots (falling). When chewing the leaves, the perception of sweet and bitter tastes temporarily disappears; earlier this property was used in the treatment of patients with bitter mixtures.

Fauziah Shariff /

Flowers small, inconspicuous, yellowish or whitish green, solitary or clustered, melliferous. Flowering begins at 2-4 years of age, in June, and often lasts until October, on the shoots of the current year, so winter frosts and spring frosts do not affect the crop. Pollinated by jujube insects, including bees. The plant is monoecious, but usually self-fertile, so at least two seedlings of different varieties must be planted for a harvest. There are about 400 varieties with different fruit ripening periods, from ultra-early in August to late-ripening in November, with a yield of up to 60 kg per tree. Fruits-drupes of various shapes (“balls, plums, pears, strawberries”), up to 6 cm, yellow-green at first, red-brown when ripe, very sweet, with a fruity smell. They often dry up right on the branch, wrinkling like a date, acquiring the taste and texture of marmalade. The fruits are very nutritious, they are eaten fresh, dried, pickled, cooked jam. They are often used as a folk remedy for jaundice, indigestion, alcohol poisoning, to strengthen the myocardium. The seed-stone is small (up to 1.5 cm) and hard. Unabi lives for more than 100 years, while actively bearing fruit for 50 years, after which the yield decreases by 2 times.

There is a subspecies of Mauritanian jujube ( Z . mauritiana ), growing in tropical latitudes, it often behaves like an evergreen plant, and only during the period of drought sheds foliage. Therefore, jujube is often grown as an indoor fruit-bearing plant. It differs by a more rounded leaf (up to 6 cm), with white felt pubescence below, the flowers are collected in larger bunches (up to 20 pieces). In tropical regions, some other plants (sapota, or puteria, various podocarps) are also called marmalade trees.

Dinesh Valke /

Popular varieties of “Chinese date”:

  • “Koktebel” is the largest-fruited (up to 52 g), mid-season (end of October), gives light chestnut “balls”, good for southern regions.
  • "Chinese 2A" medium-fruited (up to 15 g), frost-resistant (up to -30 ° C), mid-season (end of October), gives brown "strawberries" with dark green flesh.
  • "Ta-yang-tsao" large-fruited (up to 35 g), early-ripening (end of September), seedless, early-fruiting (first harvest for 2-3 years of life), vigorous, non-thorny.
  • "Ya-zao" small-fruited (up to 7 g), mid-season (mid-late October), high-yielding (140 kg per hundred), red-brown "plums" with pale green flesh, vigorous, non-thorny.
  • "Sinit" small-fruited (up to 6 g), very early (end of August - mid-September), good for the northern regions.
  • "Date" is the most delicious, early ripening (mid-September), brown "dates" up to 4 cm long with pale green flesh, the fruits crumble quickly.
  • "Soviet" early ripening (late September - early October), large-fruited with oval fruits without sourness, overripe fruits crack.

Forest and Kim Starr / Flickr. com

Growing conditions . Unabi is cultivated all over the world with suitable climates. The plant is surprisingly ecologically plastic, endures both a humid subtropical climate and long periods of drought, because by its nature, jujube xerophyte grows even in deserts. It can grow both in the tropics and in temperate climates, withstanding frosts down to -32 ° C (subject to ripening of wood, short frost, calm weather and deep snow). Moreover, non-varietal wild small-fruited forms are more winter-hardy. Today, jujube bears fruit not only in the southern regions (Crimea, Krasnodar Territory), but even in the south of Belarus. For this, it is necessary to choose early-ripening varieties. But even plucked unripe fruits ripen within 1-2 weeks at room temperature.

Ziziphus is very photophilous, it is better to plant it on the southern slope, so that from the north the plant is protected by a building, hedge or fence. It grows on any soil, except for flooded, saline, cold clays and pure peat.

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