BELIEVE it's best to prune fruit trees in winter when they are dormant,
but I have some dwarf apples that I'd like to remove the lower branches
from. Can I do it before next winter? I also have a magnificent
espaliered apple tree that hasn't been pruned for about five years.
Can you give me some tips about removing the many long shoots that
ahead and prune the lower branches off your dwarf apple trees, but
do it during dry sunny weather so the wound seals over as quickly
as possible to avoid the risk of disease entering through the wounds.
And to make doubly sure, you could apply a pruning paint like Bacseal
Super to the cuts.
Espaliered fruit trees
need regular pruning to keep them looking their best and for good
yields of fruit. In my experience it's best to do both winter and
summer pruning to direct growth into the areas where you want it.
As your espalier has been left to its own devices for years, I'd
start right away by cutting back all the long leggy shoots to within
three or four leaves of the main leaders (the branches tied to the
supporting frame). Later in summer, to prevent growth becoming too
rampant, trim back any fresh long shoots to within a few leaves
of the leaders and don't be afraid to cut some out altogether if
they're becoming crowded. Also regularly check the ties holding
the leaders to the supports as they may need to be loosened to avoid
strangling as the branch swells with age, or retying.
Gardener, Issue 186, 2005, Page 33
Reproduced with permission from the former Weekend Gardener magazine. The views expressed here are not necessarily those of the RNZIH.