How to Prune a Plum Tree and Other Care Tips
You may already know that different types of trees need different types of care. If you decide to plant plum trees but haven’t had them before, it can be difficult to know how to handle them. You want to be able to fully appreciate their beauty and the fruit they produce. The proper pruning and care will make sure your tree stays healthy and keeps producing a good amount of plums. Read on below to find some expert advice on how to prune a plum tree, as well as how to best take care of it.
How do I know the right time to prune a plum tree?
To start, you should keep in mind that plum trees will need to be pruned once a year. But how do you know what time of year to prune plum trees? Usually, the best time to prune these trees will be in a dormant season. That can be in either the winter or early spring. Avoid pruning in the fall.
If you decide to prune in the winter, try to do so as late in the season as possible. You will want to make sure not to over prune the tree. This could actually damage the tree and make it harder for as many plums to grow.
Pruning in the summer is good for reducing overgrowth. You may need to do this if your plum tree is growing so fast that there’s a risk of overcrowding. Unlike winter pruning, however, don’t wait until the end of the season. Instead, the middle of summer is the optimal time. Pruning after July could wind up making the tree more vulnerable to cold weather conditions such as frost damage.
Also, try to prune at a time when there’s no rain or fog in the upcoming forecast. The heavy moisture of those conditions puts the tree at greater risk of fungal diseases.
What special care do young plum trees need?
When first planting a young tree, you want to give the tree more water than it will need later on. For the first growing season, it’s usually recommended to water the trees every week. But how do you prune a younger plum tree?
Some suggest that it’s best to prune young trees in the early spring. Pruning at this time of year will encourage and stimulate more new growth. And pruning in the spring also helps to protect the growing trees from a disease called silver leaf. This is a fungal disease that plum trees are unfortunately extra susceptible to. This disease gets its name because there will be noticeable silvering of the leaves of affected branches.
In the first year, prune when the new growth is three inches long. Then cut the stem just above the bud, which is usually when it’s two feet tall. You’ll also help form the plum tree’s structure by creating the “scaffold whorl.” This is done by choosing four lateral branches that are evenly spaced apart, and then removing all others. In the second year, cut the scaffold whorl branches back to 10 inches and the main stem by 18 inches.
How do I keep taking care of older plum trees?
As your tree ages, make sure to keep a lookout for any dead and diseased branches. If you do notice any, make sure to prune them as soon as possible. Yes, even if you notice them when the tree isn’t in its dormant season. These branches are harmful to the tree so they can be pruned at any time of year. Just make sure to do a clean cut so the disease won’t spread to other branches.
What other branches should I prune?
In addition to dead or diseased branches, there are other branches to look out for. If you notice that some branches don’t produce any fruit, it may be best to remove them. Make sure you cut the branch completely. This allows a completely new one, which is more likely to produce fruit, to grow in its place.
Also, make sure no branches are crossing over other branches. This type of growth can potentially be harmful. Crossover branches make it more difficult for other branches to get the proper amount of sunlight and airflow. This can negatively impact the health of those branches, even making them more vulnerable to diseases and pest infestations. In addition to silver leaf, some other diseases and pests that plum trees are susceptible to include plum aphids, plum moth, honey fungus, and bacterial cankers.
When crossing branches rub against each other, it can also lead to wounds that make the tree more susceptible to disease. And crossed branches can make it more difficult for you to be able to reach and pull off the plums.
What are some extra pruning tips?
Make sure that the tools you use are properly sterilized. Be mindful of cleaning them frequently. As you cut, use disinfectant and paper towels to wipe them off. You should also make sure that you keep your cutting tools sharp. If your cutting tools are duller, it can lead to less clean cuts. Clean cuts help ward off diseases. You will also want to avoid any cutting tools with jagged edges for this reason. Lopper pruning shears are usually better for making clean cuts.
Do plum trees need special growing conditions?
As you likely already know, different types of trees need different soil and sunlight conditions. Plum trees grow best in soil that has slightly acidic to neutral pH and average moisture levels, and that has good drainage. Avoid clay-heavy soils or areas where frost might settle. Plum trees should also be planted in a spot that will provide full sunlight. The more sun the fruits can get, the larger and more flavorful they’ll grow to be.
If you have any issues with or concerns about your plum trees, don’t hesitate to contact us at Mr. Tree. You can find more information on us by looking through our website. We have plenty of advice on how to prune other trees aside from plum on our website as well. With our level of experience and expertise, you can be sure we know what we’re talking about when it comes to trees.