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Professional gardener pruning a tree

How To Prune Fruit Trees

February through March is the perfect time to prune fruiting trees & plants. Never pruned a fruit tree before, don’t worry – it is not as hard as you might think, and it’s worth every minute!

Following basic fruit tree pruning instructions will ensure your trees enjoy good health, disease management, and better fruit yield. Pruning will also stimulate shoot growth, control tree size and shape, and improve the quality of fruit.

Beyond those tips, each tree or shrub has its unique pruning needs, so be sure to follow the specific fruit tree pruning instructions for different types of fruit trees. For example, apple trees require a different pruning system than plum trees. However, follow these basic fruit tree pruning instructions to get started.

  1. Always use sharp shears or saws to ensure clean cuts. Use pruning shears on young trees and limbs less than 1/2 inch diameter, and lopping shears for your larger cuts. Use a pruning saw for mature fruit trees.
  2. Start by removing dead wood and broken branches. Cut out any wood that crosses or rubs against any other branches. This opens up the middle so the sun can reach all the fruit.
  3. Make cuts close to a bud, joint in the branch, or to the trunk and never leave a stub. Fruit tree pruning cuts should be made just above a bud and at a backwards angle of about 30 degrees.
  4. Prune stems just above a pair of opposing strong shoots or buds. If shoots or buds are staggered, find a strong one and prune just above it.
  5. Prune more vertical branches and keep more horizontal branches.
  6. Remove any debris which can harbor pests and disease.

Pruning fruit trees is a skill that can be easily learned. Check out the blog posts we recommend to master fruit tree pruning skills, and you will be a fruit tree pruning expert before you know it!

Just think ahead, and come summer, you’ll enjoy the fruits of your labor! If you have specific questions, feel free to ask our tree and shrub expert in the comments below.