Ah, the delicious plum tree! What a wonderful addition to have to your home. Being able to watch with anticipation as your harvest begins to grow, mouth-watering and ready to have the first taste of the season. But how do you properly care for them? And when is the best time to prune plum trees in Australia?
Why prune your plum trees?
You may be asking yourself, why bother? Surely there are plum trees in the wild that do just fine without human interference? And the answer is simple: if you want better fruit, prune your plum tree. You see, plum tree pruning is all about building a strong foundation. When done correctly, your plum tree will be strong enough to support larger fruit without snapping off under the weight.
So, if you want big, delicious, and juicy plums in your garden, then you best get to pruning!
How to prune plum trees
When it comes to pruning a plum tree, it is important that you tease the tree into a vase shape. This shape allows the tree to open up in the centre and allow more light through.
Following that, look for at least six to nine strong branches that you can use to form the framework of the plum tree.
Next, you will want to reduce any tall growths. Plums fruit on fruiting spurs and annual laterals, so you’ll want to de-clutter the tree and remove any old or dead wood in order to encourage healthy growth.
The end goal is to have a strong foundation with lovely fruiting spurs that are ready for the coming season’s plums!
When to prune plum trees
Plum tree pruning, when is the best time to do it? There are some mixed messages, though for the most part you will hear people say that winter is the best possible time to prune a plum tree. Let’s explore this in greater depth so that you can make an informed decision for yourself.
Pruning plum trees in Winter
Most experts say that winter is the best time to prune deciduous fruit trees (i.e., apples, plums, and pears). These trees tend to fruit well even if they aren’t pruned. However, the trees will grow tall and can become a nuisance to harvest when the time comes. In addition to that, when they have unproductive wood, the crop can become unreliable. Again, what you can to do is assist your plum tree in producing reliable quality crops with a solid size, on a tree that is manageable and easy enough to harvest from.
Pruning plum trees in Summer
Whilst winter is the way to go, there is some speculation as to whether or not it is the ONLY time to prune a plum tree. You see, some experts believe this to be half true…
Whilst most deciduous fruit trees do indeed benefit from a solid structural pruning during winter (due to it being easier to see what you are working with), the downside is that cut surfaces can take longer to heal in the colder weather, making them prone to disease.
That said, in the summer, pruning cuts on a plum tree heal much quicker, with a natural barrier formed to keep moister and disease out. In addition to that, summer pruning can also help to facilitate the next crop of fruit. You see, pruning in the summer allows the tree more time to grow new wood, which can likely bear a heavier crop in 12 months’ time.
If you do decide to prune in summer, you must make sure that you do so after your plums have been harvested.
If you can’t decide between winter or summer for pruning your young plum trees, then a professional at tree pruning may be able to offer you some advice.
Pruning plum trees in August
The winter months in Australia are between June 1st and August 31st. So, if you do decide to prune your tree in late August, then you will be just in time for the cut-off from winter to spring. Just try not to leave it too late into the end of winter / beginning of spring time. Mid to early August might be more appropriate.
Pruning plum trees in Spring
Pruning plum trees in Spring isn’t advised. You should stick to winter as recommended, or the summer months if you are looking at harvesting more fruit the following year. Spring is simply a bad time to be pruning deciduous fruit trees.
Pruning plum trees in September
Again, pruning plum trees in September (which is during the spring time) is not advised. Stick with winter and/or summer.
Most people contest that winter is the best time for pruning and trimming plum trees. If you are unsure, stick with winter as a safe bet. However, if you are feeling a little more adventurous, then summer isn’t the worst time either. There are pros and cons to both, so be sure to do your research before making the final decision. Whatever suits your lifestyle and desired outcome best!
And of course, consulting with an expert tree pruning service, such as Lakeside Trees and Stumps can’t hurt! In fact, if you are uncertain as to whether you will have the time or patience for pruning, you can always hire the professionals to take care of it for you.
Pruning any tree, especially a plum tree can be quite a complicated process, one that is often best left in the hands of the professionals.