The Q&A Archives: Ornamental Fruit Tree Pruning

Question: I have an ornamental peach tree which I would like to prune. What is the correct way to prune it? Also, on it's branches is has dark black rough lumps that look like some sort of disease. What is this and what do I need to do to get rid of it?

Answer: The growth is black knot fungus, and it infects plum as well as peach and cherry trees. It will cause dieback and can eventually kill the tree. The knots have been desribed as looking like blackened marshmallows on the twig -- the same rough, blistered, corky appearance. Remove the black knots on the smaller limbs by pruning out infected branches four inches below the growths.The best time to prune is in late winter, before growth begins. Burn the pruned branches before the spores are released. For larger limbs that you don't want to remove, scrape the black growth off the bark with a knife. Check each winter thereafter for regrowth. To manage severe infections, apply a lime sulfur fungicide spray in early spring before new growth emerges. You may have to spray more frequently if weather is warm and humid.

Pruning ornamental peach trees isn't too difficult. Prune to shape, remembering that it will flower on old wood, and don't remove more than one-third of the tree in any one pruning session.

Best wishes with your landscape.

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