Having your own apples, pears, plums or other fruit right in your backyard is a wonderful thing.
Understanding how to look after those fruit trees ensures that you’ll enjoy their fruit for years to come.
Fruit trees aren’t necessarily high maintenance but they do need regular attention. They need to be fertilized and protected against disease. They also need pruning if you’re to enjoy edible fruit long term.
Here are a few tips on the best time and methods for pruning:
- Prune ‘stone’ fruit such as plums, apricots, peaches, cherries etc by as much as two thirds in height. This helps the tree become bushier and stronger and it will bear more fruit. Do this roughly in mid summer once all the spring growth has happened.
- Prune to shape the tree in late winter – but be sure to do so when it’s dry and there’s no too much danger of frost due to rain. This can be tricky in our climate!
- Prune so that the branches are around the outside of the tree i.e. trim away the inside branches so that all the fruit is easier to reach. This also helps with air circulation through the tree which can help prevent disease.
- Prune in the right place on the branch: just above the bud node that faces toward the outside of the tree. Remember you only want branches growing out, not into the center of the tree.
- Prune using the right tools. Make sure your pruning tools are heavy duty enough and sharp enough to not tear the branch but cut through easily and cleanly. Ragged cuts can become diseased.