How To Properly Trim A Plum Tree

Posted on: 8 December 2020

All fruit trees need regular trimming if you want them to produce abundant fruit. Plum trees, however, are especially particular. If you make certain mistakes during trimming, or if you don't trim often enough, you will have very few plums to harvest that year. So how do you go about properly trimming a plum tree? Follow these steps.

Use sharp, sanitized shears.

You do not want to saw off branches or cut them with dull shears, which can cause the green wood to tear. Torn wood is harder for the tree to heal, which can make it more prone to infections. Plum trees are even more prone to fungal infections than most other fruit trees. Plan on having your shears sharpened each fall so that when you reach for them in early spring, they're ready to trim your plum trees. Some hardware stores can sharpen shears for a small fee. Additionally, make sure to sanitize them with alcohol before you begin to avoid infecting your plum tree. 

Remove about 1/3 of the foliage.

Many people assume that less is more when trimming the tree. But with plum trees, at least, this is not the case. Failing to remove enough foliage is just as bad as removing too much. Plum trees don't have deep and extensive root systems as the average shade tree, which means they cannot support a ton of foliage while still having the resources to produce plums. You want to remove about 1/3 of the foliage with each spring pruning session, which ensures the tree has plenty of energy to put into fruit production on the branches left behind.

Remember the three Ds and two Cs.

Which branches should you remove? First, use the Three Ds to guide you. You want to remove any branches that are dead, diseased, or dying. After this, take a step back and ask whether or not you've removed 1/3 of the foliage yet. If not, then you should move onto the two Cs: clustered and crossing. Clustered branches won't produce fruit, so prune away a few branches to open up the space. Crossing branches do not allow enough airflow between them, which can leave the tree prone to fungal infection. 

After a good, thorough pruning with sharp shears, your plum tree should be better prepared for a nice, productive season. Remember to remove the entirety of each branch that you prune away, and to always use sanitized shears. For additional information, contact a tree trimming service