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Pruning apricot and plum trees

I HAVE a three-year-old apricot tree, which I grew from seed. I think it needs pruning as its branches tend to hang down. I also have a plum tree, grown from seed. Can you tell me when they flower and when to prune them?


SEEDLINGS take longer to reach flowering age than grafted or cutting-grown trees, but you should get some flowers in the next year or two. Pruning them will probably delay flowering even longer, so I suggest you don't prune except to cut off any broken or distorted growth or to try to improve the tree shape. Certainly don't cut back any of the main shoots as you'll simply encourage vegetative growth rather than flowering.

When they do eventually need pruning, the best time to prune apricots is late summer during sunny, dry weather as this will reduce the chances of silver leaf disease getting in through the pruning cuts. You could do plums at the same time or later in winter, though most plum trees can go for years with little or no pruning.

One thing to bear in mind is most plum and apricot fruit you buy in the shops are from hybrid trees - that is, they are the result of years of cross-breeding using a variety of parents with different characteristics. This means the trees you have grown from seeds may not bear fruit exactly the same as the parent tree, but you'll have the fun of waiting to see what happens.

Weekend Gardener, Issue 192, 2005, Page 31

Reproduced with permission from the former Weekend Gardener magazine. The views expressed here are not necessarily those of the RNZIH.

Andrew Maloy Weekend Gardener

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