How do I prune my 10 year old plum tree?

Q.

Hi Tui, can you please advise me on pruning a 10 year old plum tree. I have trimmed out the centre a couple of times and last year I removed many small branches. The tree was covered with hundreds of flowers of which I lost about half through the wind. I got 10 fruit only. This year the tree is covered in many small branches again. What do I do?

Jim Jackson

A.

Hi Jim,

The best advice now is to not do any more pruning. The tree will be starting to flower and you risk removing further fruiting wood. Plums fruit on wood that is 2 years +. A good rule of thumb is to take out weak spindly growth, branches that are crossing over each other, and dead or diseased wood. You want a vase shape and you have the framework already there.

In summer choose four or five main leaders, trim all other branches back to 5-6 buds. For an older tree such as this one, to get it back into shape do a little each year. Summer is the best time once fruiting has finished. Make sure it is done on a dry day and use a pruning paste or water based paint on wounds. In summer the sap is rising so this should stop any disease entering the tree. Make sure the cuts are clean and on a 45 degree sloping angle.

Thanks, Tui Team 

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