Pruning To Create Smaller Fruit Trees

pruning-treesThe Fruits of Your Labor

A new pruning method will yield you more fruit growing options. Because nearly any deciduous fruit variety can be trained to stay compact. Learn how this method works. Pruning to create smaller fruit trees so that they’ll thrive, even in small gardens and large pots.

Many types of fruit trees can easily grow to 15 feet and taller. If you have experience managing one of these large trees in a backyard will understand and appreciate the value of small fruit trees.

The Benefits of this Pruning Method

Nearly any standard and semi dwarf tree from pears, peaches and plums to apples and apricots are able to trained to stay much more compact.

  1. Less space is required, in addition are easy to care for, and yield fruit in manageable quantities.
  2. Variety – Growing compact trees allows you to have more varieties of fruit into corners of your property or a small orchard.

Pruning method outlined in this article will create a smaller fruit tree than what you’re used to. Often as small as most dwarf trees. Here’s the key to this little-known technique. Fruit trees’ reaction to pruning is dependent on the season in which the cuts are made. Keep this cycle in mind when wielding your shears, and the trees’ response is determined by cycle.

  1. Actively growing (spring),
  2. Gathering nutrients (early summer)
  3. Preparing for dormancy (late summer)
  4. Fully dormant (fall and winter).

The First Cut

The first step to growing a small fruit tree is to make a cut that removes the growing tip (top two-thirds). While such a cut may seem extreme, your planting job will only be complete when you’ve lopped off the top two-thirds of your new tree.

    • This pruning cut is critical because it will create a low scaffold and direct the primary limbs that make up the canopy of a tree. It is crucial to making this cut during dormancy, thus will give the tree strength and resiliency. This is especially crucial for heavy stone fruits, hence it will help keep the canopy of the mature tree within arm’s reach.
    • Step 1: As winter comes to an end, and the ground is workable for planting. Buy a dormant bareroot tree that’s about as big around as your thumb.
    • Step 2: Plant the tree as soon as possible.
    • Step3: Choosing a bud at knee-height. (About 18 inches from the ground), also make a clean, 45-degree cut that angles away from the bud. Cut close enough to the bud so it can heal cleanly in a natural line, however not to close that you cut into the bud itself.

Precautions to Keep in Mind

Several buds should remain between the cut and the graft (*1).  Trimming too deters limb growth.

  • *1: The knobby place low on the trunk where the scion meets the rootstock

A knee-high prune is reasonable for almost all fruit trees for small gardens, although peaches and nectarines will sprout more reliably if you cut just above a nurse limb (Click here for a more detailed explanation). A young tree will probably be a 5- to 6-foot whip at the nursery. Be cautious not to remove more than you’ll leave behind and a beautiful sapling will now be a knee-high stick.

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