Pruning – Tips

Some of the pruning tips very local to the bay area can be found here in the book called “Northen California Gardening” by “Katherine Grace Endocott”. Here is a small excerpt form the book.


Woody plants are generally pruned just before new growth starts; which is usually in late winter or early spring. The worst time to prune is right after leaves emerge in spring, when the plant can ill afford to lose foliage. Prune dormant deciduous plants, such as fruit trees, roses, grapes, and cane berries, after their leaves have fallen and before their buds begin to swell. Of course, do not prune spring-blooming plants until they finish blooming.

Two basic pruning techniques are used in general pruning. Thinning cuts remove entire branches. Heading cuts shorten branches and stimulate latent buds that produce new growth.

Begin pruning with thinning cuts and then use selective heading cuts. Prune from the bottom up and from the interior of the plant to the exterior.

Pruning Fruit Trees

I strongly recommend that gardeners with fruit trees invest in a good book on the art of pruning fruit trees; a very young fruit tree requires formative training, which is not covered here. Also a good pruning book will illustrate a variety of styles for training fruit trees from the classic unshaped tree in a small orchard to the espaliering of trees along wires against a wall. Fruit trees are Pruned to encourage fruit. Fruit is formed either on spurs, which resemble short, Stubby twigs, or on new growth. Sometimes fruit is formed on both. Depending upon where the fruit is formed, the tree is pruned either to encourage spurs or to force new growth.

1. Apple trees are pruned to open the interior and lower branches to light-often by shortening to mildew. Mature apple trees are pruned to upper branches. This helps decrease susceptibility remove crossing branches and overly vigorous branches. tree bears fruit-improper pruning could severely

It is very important to know where your apple curtail the crop. Most apple trees bear fruit on short stubby shoots called spurs that bear for up to twenty years. They are pruned to encourage spurs.

Apple trees that bear fruit at the tips of shoots grown the previous summer are pruned to force new growth. The gardener can always observe the tree during the summer to see where the fruit is carried.

2.Apricot trees bear fruit on both one-year-old wood and on spurs that bear annually for about four years. One method of pruning is to head back some of the older branches to force new growth in the spring. The idea is to prune enough to produce new fruiting spurs and to prune away old spurs that have lost their vigor.

3.Cherry trees have fruiting spurs that bear for a long time.Prune only to shape and remove dead or diseased wood.

4.Citrus trees do not require much,if any,pruning in the winter.Prune only to remove dead or diseased branches.

5.Fig trees need only a light pruning in winter to remove crossing branches and dead or diseased wood.

6.Peach trees and nectarine trees are pruned heavily each winter because their fruit is produced on new wood. Mature trees may be pruned by shortening each branch of the previous year’s growth by two-thirds, or by pruning out two of every three branches formed in the previous year, or by shortening some branches by two-thirds and removing other branches.

Alternatively,prune off half of the new growth by cutting out short branches and heading back long branches by one-third.

7.Pear trees are pruned lightly each year,using thinning rather than heading cuts, to remove crossed branches and any branch or twig that looks scorched, withered, or has black, sunken cankers.

8.Plum trees bear fruit on spurs. Japanese plum trees Produce much more new growth each year than European plum trees do.(The popular ‘Santa Rosa’is a Japanese plum.)Prune the vigorous growth of Japanese plum trees each year by shortening excessive vertical growth, cutting back new vertical growth by half and making the cut above one of the small outside(out-facing)branches. The half that remains will form fruit spurs during the summer and will bear fruit the year after that. Be sure and prune away the suckers,those spindly shoots that grow from the tree trunk at soil level. Prune mature European plum trees only to remove overly vigorous and crossing branches and to thin new shoots.