Apple Tree Pruning
(continued - page 5)
To Prune Apple Trees
This article deals with pruning of bush trees (all rootstocks are pruned in the same
manner) and cordons. First, fruit is produced from shoots which are in their second (or later) year.
One of the aims of pruning is to produce a balance (roughly half and
half) between side shoots produced this year and side shoots produced
This will provide a crop of apples in the current year and
sufficient shoots for next year's crop.
Second, when you prune during winter (while the tree is dormant), this will invigorate the
tree, causing it to grow more during the following season. If you prune
during summer this will cause the tree to grow less during that growing season.
Spring pruning has an effect somewhere between winter and summer
How To Prune Bush Trees
The first pruning should occur immediately after planting (normally
November or December) - make sure you know if you have a one or two year old tree. The examples below
show pruning starting at a one year old tree.
A ONE YEAR OLD TREE
A one year old tree should be pruned immediately after planting - cut
off the top half of the trunk with a sharp pair of secateurs.
Before cutting, make sure that the bottom half contains at least four buds
or formed branches. If
not, make the cut higher, above the fourth bud.
Click here to see
pictures of a real one year old (maiden) apple tree before and after
PRUNE A TWO YEAR OLD TREE
Prune from December to February. The pink coloured parts of the tree
show growth in the previous year, this should not be pruned. The black
coloured side shoots should all be pruned by a third - see the thick
black lines. Click here
for a picture of an un-pruned and pruned 2 year
When pruning, cut just above an outward facing bud - this bud will then
produce a side shoot in the spring which will grow away from the centre of the tree.
PRUNE A THREE YEAR OLD TREE
Prune from December to February. Pruning is similar to the
two-year old tree - the pink coloured parts of the tree
show growth in the previous year, this should not be pruned. The black
coloured side shoots should all be pruned by a third.
Always prune to just above an outward facing bud.
PRUNE A FOUR YEAR OLD TREE
Prune from December to February. Pruning is the similar to the
three-year old tree - the pink coloured parts of the tree show growth in
the previous year, this should not be pruned unless it is diseased. The black coloured side
shoots should all be pruned by a third.
prune to just above an outward facing bud.
five year old tree can be considered mature and the basic shape will
have been established. Pruning should consist of keeping the centre of
the tree relatively clear of growth, removing all weak or diseased
growth and keeping the tree within the space available. Remember that
apples will grow on wood produced the previous year, so always leave a
good proportion (say 50%) of the previous year's growth.
HERE FOR NEXT APPLE PAGE
(prune a cordon)
HERE FOR PREVIOUS APPLE PAGE
Gardening Advice Center
Share with us your gardening experience!
Date posted: November 20, 2011 - 05:09 am
Message: You can cut the tree back to three main branches but you will lose the fruiting spurs. New shoots will grow from dormant buds deep under the bark and you may need to wait some years to develop spurs. A better idea is to remove a piece at a time over a number of years to achieve the results you want.
Date posted: November 20, 2011 - 04:41 am
In my previous message the reference is to a PEAR Tree and NOT an apple tree.
Date posted: November 20, 2011 - 04:16 am
Message: I have a mature apple ( at least 30 years) tree in my garden that was growing very tall but strangled upto two thirds of its height by climbing ivy. As it was a popular location for various birds nesting I did not touch it for years. Last years I decided to kill the ivy. The tree looked very naked and lifeless but last spring summer there were new shots emerging and the blossoming and fruiting was good. However the tree look visually very unattractive. I want to cut it back completely to the main three main branches about 1-2 feet above the trunk with the hope that it will growe more horizontally and bushy.Please advise if this is healthy for the tree and will result in fulfilling my hopes.
Date posted: October 23, 2011 - 06:17 pm
Message: I have a mature apple tree in my garden that was growing very tall and unwieldy. I followed a neighbour's advice to cut it back completely to the main three trunks (?) at about ten feet high. I have done so but now feel terribly that I have ruined this wonderful tree (delicious big green fruit) without having researched beforehand. I thought I was doing the right thing and that the tree should in the following years therefore grow out more horizontally and bushy. Can you offer any consolation? Time of year is late Oct.
Name: mike howes
Date posted: October 11, 2011 - 03:35 am
Message: i have a 60 yearold eating apple tree in my devon garden it still produces fruit each year but it a bit over grown with some large overcrossing branches. What is the best way to tackle pruning and when is the best time? thanks
Name: Marie Fitzwalter
Date posted: October 08, 2011 - 02:49 am
Message: Dear Sir/madam,
Can you please let me know which category of apple is Braeburn?
Would it be compatible with Cox's Orange Pippin and Bramley?
Name: mr griffin
Date posted: October 07, 2011 - 03:31 pm
Message: hi. i have a four year old apple tree with branches very close to tha ground. is it ok to cut the low ones off. it's a cox apple. thanks.
Name: lorraine spence
Date posted: September 22, 2011 - 04:10 pm
Message: my apple tree is four years old and did not bear this yea r2011(good crop last year) Most of the fruit trees were covered with black something... not sure if it was flys or there eggs etc help I sprayed it put washing up liquid etc but it did no good, the tree did not even blossom Plum
Name: donald astley
Date posted: September 16, 2011 - 01:41 am
Message: I have a plumb tree it is 4 years old still had no fruit also a pear tree 4 years old no fruit please can you held i have never prunde them many thanks don
Name: Hugh Folkes
Date posted: September 08, 2011 - 10:11 am
Message: i have a Apple tree that been inside my garden for over ten years it produce what i called cooking apples i wish to start pruining it so as to produce some good british apples what are the best ways to go about this thank for any advice
Name: ralph smith
Date posted: September 06, 2011 - 07:17 am
Message: we have a James Grieves apple tree about 14 years old. It bears lots of apples every year and they are harvested in september.
When should we prune this tree please?
Name: darlene kremsreiter
Date posted: August 29, 2011 - 12:08 am
Message: i purchased a dwarf 5in 1 apple tree it has never even flowered.its already about 9 to 10 feet high i have never pruned it is this the problem it had some leaf problems before we cut down our flowering crab tree next to it that had a problem disease,what shoudl i do ita about 4-5 years old
Name: Fran Gallwey
Date posted: August 12, 2011 - 05:11 am
Message: East Malling Short Courses
Courses for the Amateur Gardener
• Winter Pruning
• How to Plant and Establish Fruit Trees and Bushes
• Grafting for beginners
courses available Nov 2011 to March 2012 call Fran on 01732 523755 for more information
Name: george treman
Date posted: August 06, 2011 - 04:22 pm
Message: Mrs Owen, it sounds like a soil-nutrient issue, off hand. The pot can be your problem. Move to a larger pot and use natural soil from your area, mixed with a little "garden soil" fortified soil from home depot.
I use an organic spray, usually the copper based ortho "soap" spray, available in home depot. Just spray when it's dry and sunny outside. This should take care of any pest problem.
Don't overwater your potted tree.
Name: mrs christine owen
Date posted: August 01, 2011 - 06:10 am
Message: i have a two year old malus katy apple tree, planted in a pot, it only had a few flowers in spring and no fruit can be seen, the leaves are beginning to yellow with some spots of black am i losing it, please help. i must say last year it wasn't pruned. help please?
Name: Fred Hallman
Date posted: July 30, 2011 - 07:21 pm
Message: I planted an apple seed approximately 4 months ago and it has grown 24 inches. How should I handle pruning and/or planting. It seems to skinny to plant without pruning. It has split into two destince limbs about 2/3 to the top. Lots of leaves are on the small limbs sticking out of the trunk. Any recommendations?!!
Name: vicky thompson
Date posted: July 08, 2011 - 06:36 pm
Message: my apple tree grows outwars and i think it is 2 yrs old and im still not sure how to prune evan though i have seeen you website...
Date posted: July 02, 2011 - 10:23 am
Message: I planted an apple tree 2 years agao but was not aware I should prune it after planting. 2 summers on and it is a tree with no branches. What should I do now?
Date posted: June 08, 2011 - 10:10 am
Message: I have 2 Honey Crisp semi-dwarf Apples trees, planted 2 years ago..plus a Cortland for a polinator...all were
2 +- years old trees at time of planting...the first season all 3 had so many fruit it weighed the trees down and it was advised that at least half be removed before ripe ..now, I'm luck to get 20 apples ffrom all three combined...this year looks even worse, even tho the trrees look healthy...I fertilize them sparingly . Whats going on...any suggestions? Thnx.
Date posted: May 05, 2011 - 12:59 pm
Message: i have some old apple trees that havent been taking care of verry well when do i pune it back?