Pruning fruit trees
If you are thinking of getting stuck into some DIY gardening, there are reasons to prune in winter, and there are reasons to prune at other times. Here’s our attempt to summarise why you would do summer pruning or winter pruning, and if in doubt call a local gardening service to help.
We prune some stonefruit, apple & pears in winter because of a few simple reasons:
When they are naked and all their leaves are off it is easy to see the skeleton of the tree, making both annual and major structural improvements less challenging.
They’ve gone dormant, sucking most of their energy deep down into their roots, so we are not stealing energy from the tree.
Removing the trees dormant buds gives a burst of new growth in Spring.
We use to slow down a vigorous tree. We can remove or reduce new growth to keep the tree to the size we like it, for example under a bird net.
The re-growth that follows summer pruning is generally less than winter pruning.
But don’t leave it too late. An autumn trim could trigger new growth right in winter, risking loss of energy for next season’s fruit.
So what is the right way?
The answer is…..it depends. Your tree might need pruning now in winter, otherwise it won’t fit under your bird net. It might also need pruning in summer to keep its size under control. It might need pruning anytime for disease.
If in doubt call someone in gardening services who does lots of pruning. There will be a few local gardeners in your area who will have learned their lessons with experience, and won’t be afraid to make the hard decisions about whether to snip, shear or saw.
By Morgan Hoyes, Urban horticulturalist 2018
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