Flowering Plum Tree Pruning

Pruning ornamental plum trees (Prunus spp.) Encourages new development, fragrant blossoms and wholesome fruits. Based on cultivar and variety, plum trees developed in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 8 to 10 along with different regions of earth feature brightly coloured leaves, pink or white flowers and berrylike or pitted fruits. Removing dead or diseased limbs, faded flowers and underdeveloped fruits from flowering plum trees will enhance their look and growth.

Why Prune?

Pruning ornamental plum trees promotes healthy plant tissues, as dead or dying branches and limbs may carry fungal diseases and insect infestations. Strong winds can tear storm-damaged branches. Pruning an ornamental plum tree promotes flower fruit and bud development, but also preserves the plant’s size and shape, especially in hedges and landscapes. Pruning trees consistently not just improves appearance, it keeps them in becoming safety hazards.

When to Prune

The ideal time to start a pruning regimen of any tree is in the planting, notes the University of Minnesota Extension. Flowering plum trees have to develop strong, woody trunks. Reducing back feeble offshoots, dead, crossed or broken branches and lower limbs through the plant’s dormancy widens and reinforces the middle stem. For growing plum trees, dormancy, flowering and fruiting habits determine when they can be pruned. For instance, Cherry Plum (P. cerasifera) trees develop buds during the previous year and after that blossom in spring before the end of June. Spring bloomers must be cut after flowers have dropped. Summertime-blooming plum trees must be pruned the following winter or early spring. Winter bloomers, such as P. mexicana, may be trimmed following fruits are harvested in early autumn.


Pruning saws come in various shapes and sizes. Clippers for smaller tree branches comprise scissor-action pruners with sharp blades that slide into heavier blades, and straight-anvil shears which include a sharp sword that slices from an intense, hexagonal edge. Lopping shears have bigger scissor-like blades with longer handles. Curved pruning saws with rough-edged teeth are great for branches thicker than 1 inch. Pole pruners are used for big branches that are high from the ground, using a saw and crescent-shaped cutting sword and a rope to pull the sword over the unwanted division. Don’t use hedge shears to prune trees, advises Clemson University Extension. Oil and oil your pruning tools in the end of each season.

Ways to Prune

Three primary ways to prune are pinching, thinning and overhead reduction. Pinching flower heads and twiggy offshoots by hand will help control the plant’s size. “Thinning” eliminates stems and feeble limbs from principal branches or tree trunks. Thinning flowering plum trees permits them to absorb light and circulated air. Reducing back to a bud, lateral branch or the main trunk allows the wound to heal fast. When removing large limbs, then you can make three individual cuts across the division to keep the bark away from stripping off. Crown decline — the removal of large branches on top of tree — commands the plant height, shape and canopy.

Fruit Thinning

Trees with small branches are healthier without a lot of drupes down them. Underdeveloped fruits may maintain plum trees from bearing each year so thinning back flower heads and buds promotes growth. Removing small, weak drupes enables growing plums more room to soak up the sun. Removing diseased fruits keeps fungi or brown decay, for examples, from spreading to adult plums. Stone fruits such as plums, peaches, nectarines and cherries have to be thinned between early April to mid May, depending on their time of harvest. The total amount of fruits to thin depends upon cultivar, size and harvest yield.

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