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  • How-To Video: Pruning a Fruit Tree

    This video applies to pruning deciduous (goes dormant and loses its leaves) fruit trees only. Citrus trees are not pruned regularly—only to keep a pleasing shape.

    Pruning keeps fruit trees healthy, well-balanced in shape, open to sunlight, and promotes fruiting branches.

    • General principles
      • Best time to prune: January through mid-February in California
      • Prune to remove dead or damaged branches
      • Prune to “open up” center of trees for sunlight
      • Prune to keep tree well-balanced and to a manageable size—for ease of harvest
      • Prune to promote fruiting branches
      • Always make cuts about 1/8 or ¼ inches away from (or above, not below!) remaining branch or leaf bud
      • Make cut at 45-degree angle


    • Tools
      • Use sharp, clean pruning shears
      • Hand shear
      • Long-handles shear for larger branches
      • Pruning saw for biggest branches
      • Clean tools after each tree (with rubbing alcohol) to prevent disease from spreading


    • Pruning apples and pears
      • First: general pruning
        • Remove dead or damaged branches
        • Open up center of tree
        • Reduce size
      • Promote fruiting branches.
        • Reduce thin, skinny branches to five-seven leaf buds (show little bumps where leaves were)
        • This promotes fruiting branches that are fatter, shorter, with larger, rounded tips (show example of)
        • Be sure you don’t cut any of these off—these are the branches that bloom and produce fruit


    • Peaches, apricots, nectarines, plums
      • First: general pruning (as above)
      • Promote fruiting branches
        • Require heavier pruning that apples and pears
        • Reduce entire tree (mature trees only) by about one-third every year.
        • These fruits are different from apples and pears—they have new fruiting branches each year.


    • If branches are loaded with fruit, be sure to thin (remove) some of the fruit. Branches won’t break and fruit will be larger!


    View our Plant Library for different Fruits & Berries we carry during the year >

    Planting new dormant Fruit Trees? Check out our guide >

    See more articles about: Fruit & Berries