In this article you will find out how to prune plum trees. One of several articles on how to prune fruit trees. Pruning plum trees is straightforward, once trees are established, and consists mainly of thinning out overcrowded wood. Some rather more detailed pruning is, however, necessary in early years, in order to build up a suitable framework.
How to prune plum trees - Maiden tree
If a maiden tree is planted, that is, a tree within one year of budding or grafting, pruning may be carried out in Spring, after deciding on tree form. Generally plums will be grown as half-standards having a main stem about 4 ft. in length, before branch system.
An open centre is aimed at, main branch system forming outside, with young wood filling in interior. This method of forming half standard tree can also be used for Apples and Pears.
Assuming a maiden tree has been purchased, this would be planted in Autumn and, later on, when tree has settled down, and you are wondering how to prune plum trees, it should be pruned to a bud, 9 to 12 inches above height of lowest branch desired.
In following season shoots will grow from buds below top, and most suitable are left, ensuring that they are well spaced and at a wide angle to stem. Other shoots are removed, leaving about 5 or so which will form main branch system.
The top bud will grow strongly; this can be offset by making a nick below it with a knife, forcing more growth into lower buds. Wide angled branches can be encouraged by making small notches in bark above selected buds; topmost shoot can be removed later. Any growth arising below position of lowest branch should merely be shortened for first year or two before removing, as they assist in thickening stem.
The selected branches are subsequently pruned to a suitable outward pointing bud, during first year or two, one third to one half of new wood being removed; afterwards this is reduced to mere tipping which is discontinued altogether eventually. The tree will consist of 6 to 7 well-spaced main branches, growing from them and lateral growths which will form bulk of fruiting wood.