Plum pruning guide and tips

A very important operation to carry out in our garden is the pruning of the trees. In this case, pruning the plum , as it is a fruit tree , acquires even more importance since we can obtain a good harvest of fruits from it. If we do it right, we will improve the production and the health of the tree. Learn how to do it right


With pruning we are communicating to the tree, to put it in a poetic way, how we want it to develop . On the one hand, as we have said before, we improve the health of the tree, either by avoiding the growth of suckers, crossed branches that do not produce any benefit, etc. or to get the tree aerated and reduce the chances of disease and pests. For a pest the existence of air currents that circulate inside the tree, in this case of the plum tree, is very uncomfortable and may mean that the pest decides to leave that site due to discomfort for the development of its species. The same as for the development of fungi. If an area of ​​the tree is aerated and does not accumulate moisture, it inhibits the development and growth of fungal diseases, since it does not offer the ideal conditions for their growth. All this seems silly, but it’s true.

We summarize the summary of the benefits that pruning produces in the plum tree as follows:

  • Regulate the growth and development of the tree, in accordance with an established planting framework and cultural and cultivation practices.
  • By having a lower plant density, the entry of phytosanitary products is easier and more effective.
  • It increases the size of the fruit, when carrying out a normal thinning. The fewer fruits on the tree, the more the tree’s reserves accumulate.
  • We will control the height of the tree and therefore it will facilitate the harvesting of the harvest in our garden.
  • Greater entry of light into the interior of the tree’s foliage, greater photosynthetic activity.
  • Regulation of production, avoiding possible common occurrences in fruit and olive trees.
  • Remove affected or diseased, unproductive or dry branches to rejuvenate the tree.


This is an important question since the pruning period varies depending on the type of tree or the growth it has. In plum it can be done during the entire vegetative period of the plant, but there are 2 different times that are considered the best to carry out this type of work:

  1. The period between the fall of the plum leaves and the start of sprouting. This corresponds to the autumn and winter months, where there is less vegetative activity (less sap movement). It is known as winter pruning.
  2. This stage ranges from the beginning of sprouting to the fall of the leaves. It corresponds to the months between spring and summer and is known as green pruning or pruning in vegetation .


With this pruning of the plum, what we are looking for is to form the structure of the tree . In other words, it will be the most important pruning we will carry out. A tip is to do it during the fall of the leaves, do not wait until most of them are down. It is simply not recommended.

The most effective and ideal way to winter prune the plum is to cut it smooth, at a twisted angle (not 90º) and leaving a few centimeters from the base, that is, a stump .


This pruning has the objective of eliminating the shoots of previous years that have no use on the tree, and pruning the shoots of more than 40 centimeters and half a centimeter thick. That is to say, popping out those branches that grow too erect, to favor the emission of lateral shoots, useful at harvest time.


An important thing in pruning the plum is to differentiate the growth and fruiting organs of the tree , so that some of them are the ones we have to prune and others we have to respect and not touch.


Pruning plum
Source: IVIA

They are very small and pointed buds , like a kind of thorns (that is why they have the name of darts), which give rise to flower buds and wood formations. They are the future branches or flowers that will produce good quality fruits. Therefore it is important not to delete them.


Toast in plum
Source: IVIA

They are short and thin shoots and usually measure between 10 and 30 centimeters. The first year they are woody, but from the second year flower and wood buds appear, which also produce quality fruits.


mixed bouquet in plum
Source: IVIA

In this case, they are long and vigorous shoots , contrary to the previous toasts, and they reach lengths of 2 to 3 meters in just 1 year. Because of the place where they are formed and their growth, they will give the fruits of the highest caliber and quality.


plum pacifier
Source: IVIA

The suckers in the plum tree are very vigorous and long shoots , reaching measurements of up to 3 meters and between 5 and 7 centimeters in diameter. They usually grow on thick branches, in the central area of ​​the tree or in the lower areas of the trunk.

They must be removed before they grow to large sizes. I would enter green pruning, or let some grow if we intend to graft, since they are effective organs to perform this technique.

Recognizing a sucker is easy, because it appears in very particular areas, where they do not fit with the structure of the tree (they emerge from the trunk, or on a large branch, and tend to grow upwards).


Moving on to the topic of how to prune we will start from the following bases. With this we will gain experience about what we must eliminate from the tree when pruning the plum and what we must leave untouched.

  • Eliminate all branches that cross each other, or those that grow towards the interior of the tree, making lighting and aeration difficult
  • Remove hickeys before they grow more than 8 inches.
  • Define the maximum height of the tree.

When they are just planted, they are left at a height of 50 cm, with 4 or 5 defined branches.

The first and second years will be left without pruning the interior branches. We want many branches to come out so that the tree does not grow in height and to facilitate harvesting.

In the third year we will start at the base eliminating the interior branches and thus we will continue, marking a defined structure, the rest of the years.

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