Sometimes, watching your fruit trees and bushes get butchered down to the knuckle can feel like watching a teen slasher flick. You just can’t bear to watch the horror! Pruning your vegetation back may sound like a nightmare, but many times, it’s exactly what your plant needs. If done properly, pruning can promote tons of new growth and vigor. Don’t be afraid! After a good pruning, many trees produce more and larger sized fruits.
Why pruning is needed:
To maintain a safe height
If you are trying to keep your tree or bush in a certain space or a certain size, the best thing to do is keep it pruned. You don’t have to let a tree grow to full size, it’s totally up to you how tall or how wide the branches grow. If you don’t want to risk your safety by climbing ladders every time you want to pick a few peaches, plums, pears, or apples, it’s a good idea to keep your fruit tree pruned back to a reachable size. That makes harvest time much more enjoyable.
A shorter tree means you’re more likely to spend more time enjoying the fruits of your labor and less time in the Emergency room with broken bones as a result of falling off of a shaky ladder.
To promote new growth and proper airflow
This may seem counter-intuitive, but cutting trees back enables them to focus more of their energy on producing fruit rather than trying to nourish all those extra limbs. The bigger the tree, the more nutrients it needs and cutting it back will allow the tree to work with less. Also, less foliage allows for better airflow which discourages mold or other disease growth.
To create a more visually appealing tree with less pests
Overgrown trees and bushes are unsightly. Pruning gives you a chance to create a work of art in your garden. You can create that perfectly manicured garden look or you can create some zany and interesting. Overgrown trees also tend to house more unwanted critters such as spiders and other pests. Nothing is uglier than spider web infested branches that have grown out of control. It’s easier to keep the bugs at bay when your tree is well groomed.
When to Prune:
Pruning produces the best results in early spring and late fall. An early spring pruning that occurs just before everything starts growing is less traumatic for the grower because as soon as the temperatures warm up, new growth can be seen immediately. A late fall pruning is probably less traumatic for the tree because it gives them less to manage during the dormant season. You can also make small cuts here and there as needed during the summer if you feel it’s necessary.
I pruned my lemon trees
You’ll notice in the lemon tree pictured above, that the branches have grown limp and leggy. I decided to give my lemon tree a good pruning and here’s how it turned out:
How to prune your trees properly
If you’re ready to drum up the nerve to prune your trees, here’s a great video that can walk you through the process. This video will show you how to identify the fruit bearing branches and make the proper cuts.