The Q&A Archives: Pruning Plum Trees

Question: I planted 2 plum trees last spring and they have done extremely well. They are growing fast and very thick, therefore, there are several branches that cross and others growing every which way. How much can I prune them back after they have gone dormant? I'm not in a hurry for fruit but more concerned about proper shape, air circulation, and adequate light.

Answer: You sound like a patient gardener, which is a true boon for your little trees! Actually, you can prune plum trees after they have finished blooming. European plums should be pruned to a central leader or modified central leader, and Japanese plums do better with an open center. It's best to have illustrations/diagrams to follow when pruning. I haven't been able to locate any really helpful diagrams on the internet, but a good fruit tree book will show you the ropes. Go to the library and photocopy the diagrams you need, or contact your county agricultural extension service (ph# 704-792-0439) -- they should have an illustrated bulletin for you. Enjoy!

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