Friday, January 4, 2008

Pruning Apple Trees

Many people think that in winter the gardener has nothing else to do but sit and snore by the fire. Well, there's not as much to do now as during the rest of the year, but there are a still a few jobs that need to be done. Here is a job I did during the holiday season, but it can also be done this month, so don't despair. ;-)

Pruning the apple tree. In my back garden I have a nice little apple tree ( only three years old) that needed to be pruned. See all that crisscross of branches? That won't do at all. A healthy apple tree needs light and lots of air circulating around its branches.
So I removed many branches and shortened quite a few others as well, and here is the end result. This is most of what I cut off
and this is what remained on the tree.
A big difference, don't you think? This time of year is a good time to prune your apple trees and you can prune them even when it's freezing. Apple trees, like roses, need lots of light and air so the rule of thumb is: prune enough branches away so that a turtle dove or blackbird can fly through its branches.

And now it's time for the 64,000 dollar question: which branches to prune away completely and which to shorten?
See that small brown branch ? (Sorry, it's not such a clear picture, I have an auto focus camera but sometimes it doesn't do the auto focus thingy all that well.) That is a useless branch that will only produce leaves and you don't want zillions of leaves on your apple tree, you want branches that produce fruit.

How to tell the difference? Simple, this is a branch with buds that will only produce leaves
and this is one that will produce fruit. Notice the difference?
Those very short twigs are called spurs and they produce both the flowers and leaves. And it's the flowers (blossom) we need to get apples!

So this spur here is your friend. Branches that have a lot of these spurs will bear fruit, so those stay on. There are also branches that have spurs but towards the end of the branch it produces merely leaf buds. Well, that end of the branch you trim away. Other branches that need to go are: dead and damaged ones, branches that grow in the wrong direction or are too close to other branches and, of course, all the branches without spurs.

I know that lots of people are unsure of how to prune a fruit tree but hey, it's just pruning, not brain surgery, OK? Happy pruning!

NB. There are apple trees that don't produce spurs. If you have one of those then you're up a well known creek without a paddle. ;-)

After all that pruning exercise we're back to our regular winter programme:
Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

copyright 2008: Y.E.W. Heuzen

An apple a day, keeps the doctor away!

38 comments:

Lis said...

Deine Katzen haben sich ja einen wunderbar warmen Platz ausgesucht!

Nicole said...

Yolanda
Thanks for that lesson-I think I will use it in pruning my over tangled trees and shrubs. Cute kitties and lovely apple blossom. Happy New Year!

lenie said...

daar zeg je me wat , moet ik nog doen !!!! heb hoogstamfruit en al ouwe , en ja die móet je bijhouden .....dus mijn weekend zit vól ! Bedankt voor het herinneren ....;) fijn weekend gewenst !

Farmgirl_dk: said...

Great pruning lesson - very informative. The pictures made it even better! Thanks...our new place we are moving to in 3 weeks will have both small apple and pear trees. Now I know a little about how to care for them!

Lavendeltuin/vierkatjes said...

Geen fruitbomen in de lavendeltuin,
dus ook niet snoeien, maar wel een houtkachel en vier katjes, dus ook zzzzzzzzzzzzzz!
Om jaloers op te worden hè!

rusty in miami said...

Good lesson on pruning. I never know if I am doing good or bad pruning to a tree

Ewa said...

Great lesson on pruning apple tree, which is very tricky to prune. I have special book about pruning fruit trees, and prunig apple trees is 1/3 of the book. Still I couldn't tell the difference based on drawings i saw. So thank you :)
In our zone it is advised to prune them when temperature is not too low, preferably about 0. Since yesterday we have -11, so I wait.
Funny - exactly this morning I was thinking, that if weather gets better - means temperature gets higher - I will call 'pruning-guy', cos I plan to remove serious branches.

jodi said...

This is one of the best articles on pruning I've ever read, Yolanda; explains the art of pruning apple trees beautifully! And of course, the exhausted Bliss team resting in front of the fire just adds to the fun.

Pam/Digging said...

I agree with Jodi. This is a wonderful tutorial with excellent illustrations.

Brimstone said...

Fruitbomen ontbreken in mijn tuin, toch vond ik het leuk om de snoei-uitleg te lezen. Heel duidelijk verteld.

Wat een heerlijke kachel heb je, daar kan het kattenspul echt van genieten.

Frances said...

What an informative post, so timely too. Love those pretty kitties by the fire. Do you know if ornamental cherry trees, like the Yoshino, need to be pruned like that also?

Tracy said...

Thank you for the pruning advice, Yolanda! DH and I have two very old apple trees in our garden and they've been a bit neglected and we've been so nervous to prune, not knowing where and how to do the cuts properly. You give me confidence now! Hopefully now our tress will be in better shape and we'll get more eatable fruit. Happy weekend to you & yours and the sweet Bliss Team ((HUGS))

marl1 said...

Heb helemaal geen problemen met het soezen bij het haardvuur...;-)))))
Hier in de fruitboomgaarden wordt nu inderdaad veel gesnoeid- met zo'n snoeischaar met perslucht...bye, bye stilte...:-((

Curtis said...

It's not so easy how to explain in trimming fruit trees. Your lesson hit the nail on the head.

Robin's Nesting Place said...

I wish I had an apple tree to prune. Your apples look so crisp and delicious.

SchneiderHein said...

Oh ja, im Frühjahr verschoben, im Sommer verschoben und wenn es morgen nicht Regen würde, dann wäre der optimale Zeitpunkt! Aber vielleicht sollte ich den morgigen Tag doch erst einmal zum Krokusse und Narzissen setzen nutzen und die Bäume etwas später schneiden...
Wir ziehen zur Zeit die gemütlichen Momente im Haus vor - Maus&Allegra lieben unsere Gesellschaft im Bett.
Wir wünschen Euch ein schönes und gemütliches Wochenende am warmen Kamin.
Liebe Grüße
Silke & Wolfgang

jim said...

This was the best lesson on pruning I've ever seen/read. I've bookmarked it for those times when others ask me for pruning advice.

kate said...

I wish I had an apple tree because now I would be looking forward to doing some pruning. I wonder if the same sort of rules apply to lilacs??

The apples look so good, I'd love to be able to pick one right off the tree.

Please give some hugs to your sleek and beautiful felines. I tried showing them to Lytton, but he wanted to chew his rawhide bone instead. He has just discovered he has a new song that he likes.

It's almost spring ...happy weekend! Kate ox

Cottage Magpie said...

Oh my goodness, I think that is the most helpful, informative post on pruning apple trees that I have EVER READ! And I have read books, articles, posts. This one is THE BEST. Tell me, does this advice also apply to pears, peaches or prunes (the fruit trees I have)? :-)

Karin A said...

Thank you for the lesson! Here in Sweden it's too early start pruning, we normally wait until march. But I still enjoyed learning more about. We have several apple and pear trees so we have a lot of "off-season-work" to do. But today I woke up and saw that we have a lot of snow. I can't wait to get out there. How is the weather in the Netherlands? :)

stadtgarten said...

I haven't been her for a while so I had a lot to read...
I especially enjoyed the walk on the beach in Zierikzee. I have been at the sea only once in winter, and I liked it so much. We are going to Gent at the beginning of february, and I hope we can make a short trip to the dutch coast then.
Have a nice sunday, groetjes, Monika

Birgit said...

Danke für die sehr gute Anleitung zum Schneiden, Yolanda.

Das Foto mit den Katzen vor dem Termin (Ton in Ton) ist einfach zu köstlich.

Liebe Grüße und Wünsche für einen gemütlichen Restsonntag, Birgit

marga said...

Nou Yolanda.....deze tuinier houd het toch lekker bij de kachel met dit weer maar ik heb dan ook geen fruitbomen in de tuin.
Leuk....de katjes voor de kachel.
Of ze gelijk hebben!!!

Lisa at Greenbow said...

What a good tutorial about pruning apple trees. We have an old apple tree. It hadn't been pruned in years before I arrived on the scene. It hasn't been pruned much since. I am one of those worriers about what I should and shouldn't prune. We don't spray our tree. We think of it more as an ornamental with fruit being for wildlife.

Your bundle of gray and white before your fire is beautiful. They make me wish I could cuddle up with them.

Carol said...

Here in my garden, I'll prune my one apple tree on a warm day in February. It isn't a very big or old tree, so it won't take long. Good info, well explained!

Carol, May Dreams Gardens

Strawberry Lane said...

Hi Yolanda,
That was the most helpful lesson on pruning and apple tree I have ever read. Thanks!

Also, love that pile of grey fuzzies. So adorable!

Matron said...

Excellent! clearly illustrated and explained, thank you. I read that some apples are 'tip' bearing and some are 'spur' bearing.. I don't know how to prune mine as it fruits on the tip end of the twig!

PB said...

great article on pruning apple trees! i had an apple tree once but it died...

btw, your russian blues are gorgeous. i have a russian as well. she's 4 years old and takes long naps on my bed. they're such wonderful pets!

Felicia said...

Thanks for the lesson! I've got a young apple tree in my new backyard I must take a look at :)

Rosehaven Cottage said...

Thank you for the wonderful tutorial! I really needed this. I learned basic pruning years ago from my mom but never learned the secrets of pruning an apple tree. Now do I prune a plum tree similarly?

Cindy at Rosehaven Cottage

Yolanda Elizabet said...

Hi all and welcome to Bliss. I'm chuffed to bits that you all find my tutorial so very helpful!!! Yeay me! ;-)Thanks very much for all your kind words and the Bliss team is still snoozing away as outside it is cold and grey today.

There were a few comments/questions that need to be answered so here goes:

* Frances: no, as a rule cherry trees (ornamental or not) do not need to be pruned at all.

* Kate: no, lilac trees you do not prune like an apple tree. With lilac trees you remove branches that are dead or diseased or in the way and that's that.

* Cottage Magpie: you prune pears the same way and I'm going to do a tutorial on pear trees next month so stay tuned. ;-) Peaches and plums are different. Plums do not need to be pruned (remove only dead wood during the growing season) and peaches bear fruit on young wood and in order to stimulate the tree in growing lots of new branches you merely trim the older branches. The best time for pruning peaches is at the end of winter.

* Matron: I looked it up for you: your trees do not need pruning, maybe once in a while a light trim. Don't trim away too much as you also remove the fruit.

* Cindy: for pruning plums see my answer to Cottage Magpie.

Thanks for visiting and commenting everybody!!

Andrea's Garden said...

Danke, Yolanda, dass du die Zeit nutzt, um auch solche Erfahrungen weiter zu geben. Über solche Dinge sollten wir auch in den Blogs schreiben. Ich habe von meinem Sohn letztes Jahr ein Buch bekommen, in dem auch Anleitungen zum Rosen schneiden sind. Das muss ich doch mal wieder hervorholen. Die perfekte Winterbeschäftigung. Liebe Grüße, Andrea

Kylee said...

Interesting that you did this post just after I was reading about spurs and such in the book, "The Grape Grower." I knew just what you were talking about! I hope I can figure it all out with the grape vines when we get them.
We've got two 'Red Delicious' apple trees that my parents gave us when we moved here 30 years ago. One is much bigger than the other and it also produces more apples. We don't prune it though, and it probably really needs it.

Thanks for posting this, Yolanda Elizabet!

Hannele said...

I love that jobb.

Meg said...

Excellent advice! My house came complete with some very unkempt apple trees that my husband and I will try to reclaim this year. We know only a little bit about pruning and have been kind of nervous to give it a go, but now I have a much better idea of what we've got to do. Thanks!

Maryloo said...

Fantastic advice, very helpful to have the pictures explaining things.I never knew what to cut off so I didn't lose next years fruit. Many thanks from a wintery New Zealand.

alex216 said...
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enammom said...

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