Plum trees are a versatile stone fruit tree, and they make a great addition to most any property. If you've never had a plum tree before, you may not realize that it will continue gaining height and width consistently if you don't keep it pruned. While having a large plum tree may sound great, that excess size and growth effort can actually hinder the fruit production and affect the quality of the plums you're getting. Here are some tips to help you trim your plum tree carefully every year.
Putting Safety First
If you're new to pruning trees, the first thing to understand is that safety should be paramount. Don't use an extension ladder or a small folding ladder to do any work in the tree. You need stability and safety, which you can get instead from a tripod ladder. They are also known in some circles as an orchard ladder because that's where you often find them.
Proper Trimming Steps
Always clean your shears first and between each tree that you prune. This ensures that you're not spreading any kind of bacteria or disease from one tree to another. Don't try to disinfect them with bleach, though. The chemicals can damage the next tree you trim.
Clear away the loose limbs. If there are any dead branches on the tree, that's the first place to start. Get rid of all of the dead limbs and twigs. Cut them flush with the trunk so that you don't leave anything behind. Otherwise, the stump left behind will still be dying but will then leave the tree vulnerable to bacterial infection because it will heal over slowly. Don't seal the cuts, though. While it might seem like it will protect against infection, it actually hinders healing.
Cut the branches selectively. Start with the water sprouts, or the branches that grow vertically out from the trunk or some of the primary branches. Then, turn your attention to the core set of branches. Narrow down the four or five strongest branches to preserve for new season growth. Trim all of the others back to the trunk so that the tree can focus its efforts on the strongest branches.
If you have never trimmed a fruit tree before and aren't confident in your ability, talk with a local tree trimming company or Tidd Tree for more help. They can send someone out to evaluate your tree and help you trim it.