It’s about the time of year that I need to prune my fruit trees and bushes. I have done this before, but I am far from convinced that I did it the best way (and also I can’t remember what that was anyway). Hence this resource collection on pruning, and a summary for what I need to do.
- Prune to keep centre of tree open, cut back large branches to a lower branch, shorten each branch by 1/3 (as my tree is a spur bearer not a tip bearer). (RHS)
- Pick scaffold branches and prune back. (WeekendGardener.net)
- Cut back strong branches to about 50%, weaker branches to about 30%; goal is 7-8 strong branches by year 4. (This is specific to dwarf trees which mine is.)
- Prune this year’s growth by 1/3. (GardenAction.co.uk, has useful pictures.)
- Tidy up, then if tree is tall enough, reduce leaders by 2/3 and lateral branches to about 6 buds.
- SUMMARY: Lots of conflicting advice here. I’ll take a look at the tree, think about its height (full size for M9 is 1.8-2.5m), and cut back by 1/3-1/2, plus any tidying up. The tree’s branches are still quite thin as is its trunk so I’d rather prune a bit harder than not hard enough. I am most nervous about this pruning!
- Prune a little (just taking out weedy/rubbing stems) in year 2, then 30% of oldest stems, and all sideshoots, every year thereafter. (Ashridge Trees)
- Prune around 30%, right back to ground level or to a strong new shoot. (BBC) The BBC also suggest pruning when picking, rather than waiting until winter.
- Prune to create a light airy habit, and focus on taking out third year (black) branches that don’t have good first/second year growth. (The Chicken Street blog)
- SUMMARY: Nothing for me to do this year as the bush is only in its first winter.
- Remove any dead wood, then some of the oldest canes, taking them out at the base, and remove any twiggy growth. (BBC)
- Remove dead/damaged/rubbing stems, then 1/3 of the oldest stems (at the base) and any twiggy growth. (RHS)
- Tidy up, then remove oldest (grey) canes, and any twiggy growth. (GrowVeg.com) This site also recommends pruning in March. If I leave it til March I’ll forget about it…
- SUMMARY: Tidy up, remove some of the oldest canes, and any twiggy bits.
Any comments from experienced pruners (especially of dwarf apple trees!) welcome.