How to prune

Maintaining a home orchard is not as mysterious as many believe.  Providing you follow some simple rules, your home orchard will not only survive but will thrive and reward you with abundant fruit year in, year out.

Pruning fruit trees is very easy and doesn’t have to be a difficult or technical process.  There are many books on pruning and if you wish to entrench yourself that is a great way to go.  But if you are simply happy with an easy, fuss-free approach to maintaining your fruit tree here is the easiest guide to pruning. 

Potted Trees

Winter, while your fruit tree is dormant, is the perfect time to prune.  Fleming’s recommend a simple ‘vase-shape’ prune which will bring sun into your tree to help increase natural sugars in the fruit for better-tasting results. To establish a vase shape remove most limbs that are growing towards the centre of the tree – this will leave a little hollowed out area.  Prune these limbs right back to the main branch. Remove any old or dead limbs. Trim the top of the tree between 50-100cm depending on the height and age of the tree. If there is a funny limb heading off in an odd direction that you don’t like – simply prune it off. 

Bareroot Trees

If you have purchased a bare root tree you will need to prune it.  Fleming’s recommend pruning your tree prior to planting  - simply because it is easier.  A bare root tree has been grown in a paddock and dug out by ‘diggers’. This process leaves about half of the root system behind but the tree has its entire top.  

To ensure the tree gets the best start and grows well in spring, you should prune the tree by 30 – 50%.  

It is not necessary to be overly concerned with which bud to prune to or if a branch is pointing in the right direction, simply prune off about half of the branch and do this evenly across the tree.  

An easy way to measure this is to use the first branch you prune off and match its length to the remaining branch you have just pruned then use it as a measuring stick for the rest of the branches.  Easy.

Fleming's Pruning Diagrams