When To Prune Fruit Trees? We Have Answers!

Are your fruit trees looking a little saggy and/or overgrown? Have you thought about pruning them for a while now? If you answered “yes” to both questions, then you know that it might be time to prune your fruit trees to have them stay clean and healthy.

​However, the dilemma is to know when exactly you can prune them. Even if your fruit trees are looking extra heavy or starting to form some not-so-good spores on the branches, it’s necessary to figure just which parts of the year is the best to get rid of them. In fact, knowing that pruning in the winter or in the spring can make a big difference for the overall health of your tree.


Therefore, we’re here to help; in this article, we’ll give you a breakdown on when to prune fruit trees, as well as how to go about pruning them. Pretty soon, you’ll have the confidence to clear those branches without any stress.

When Is The Best Time To Prune Fruit Trees?


​It depends on the type of fruit tree, but typically, the time of when to prune fruit trees is dependent on two aspects: the season and the maturity of the tree. Here are the details of each:

#1. The Season

The ideal time to start trimming trees is often when the leaves are gone, but at the same time when the temperature is just about getting warmer. You wouldn’t want to prune them when it’s too cold or too hot since there are downsides to both of them.

​For instance, pruning in the winter time is not ideal, because it exposes the branches to potential rain and airborne diseases, which can infiltrate and infect the tree branches for a longer period of time since the tree itself is dormant and otherwise exposed during the cold season. It also leads to a huge vertical up-growth in the spring, thus making it harder to control.

​On the other hand, pruning in the summer is not the best either, for the overabundance of leaves and branches make it more difficult to target just what and where exactly you need to cut in order to ensure that the tree remains in good condition.

However, some pruners might choose to prune in the winter or summer seasons regardless; as said, it depends on what kind of fruit tree you have, and knowing your tree well will help you figure out if it’s best to prune during extreme seasons (e.g. summer, winter) or more temperate ones, like in the spring or autumn.​

For an idea on when exactly to prune, especially during “dormant season,” check out this video:​

#2. Tree Maturity

Usually, it’s better to prune (or otherwise trim) fruit trees when they have just been planted and/or while they’re still maturing. Pruning often helps low branching to occur, as well as stabilize the top of the tree.

In addition, pruning them for the first few years of growth helps them to grow faster, before trying to grow fruit among the branches. Having a good basis for growing will yield solid crops of fruit for the remaining years to come.

Hence, it’s a delicate balance of finding just the right temperature and maturity of the tree to make your pruning experience not only the most effective, but also the safest to do.

How Do You Go About Pruning Fruit Trees?


​Like with any other trees out there, fruit trees should first be examined for anything damaged, dead, or diseased- commonly known as the “three D’s” of pruning. This should be done before you go ahead with other areas since they require more time and care to make sure that the entire tree doesn’t get destroyed.

​Afterwards, you should clear out excess growth, from things like suckers near the roots or vertical branches (called “waterspouts”) from the top of the tree. Make sure you don’t leave small stubs from the branches, as they’re more likely to grow back later.

Before finishing up, thin out the branches of the tree, not only to make it less top heavy, but also to promote more sunlight and air into it for better fruit production.​

For more information about pruning fruit trees, check out this article here.​

What Are The Steps To Pruning Them?​

Now that you know the general idea of how to prune, here’s a step-by-step process of how you can do it:​

  • Find branches that rub or otherwise are tangled together; use pruning saws to cut them off.
  • Continue to remove other types of branches, such as vertical ones and those on top with the pruning saw; overall, you should remove about one-third of the branches every two years.
  • Get rid of excess grass around the tree by digging with a shovel.
  • Take about 2 to 3 inches worth of bark mulch and place it all over the base of the tree.
  • Repeat the steps over time, also not forgetting to water it consistently over the spring and summer.

Take away message

Although there are many factors that go into properly pruning fruit trees, you can take measures to being successful at it by following these tips:​

  • Figure out the best season and tree maturity to prune.
  • Clear out the “three D’s” (damaged, dead, diseased) tree parts first.
  • Fertilizer and water frequently to keep the fruit tree in good, healthy condition.

I hope you have found this article useful. For any comments or suggestions, feel free to leave me a message. I would love to hear what you think, and don't forget to share this article if you like it!

Shary Saunders

Shary Saunders is the founder and chief editor of sharycherry.com. Gardening and landscaping have been her passion for years. You can find Shary on Twitter at @SharySaunders. Read more about Shary here.

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