Fruit growing

How to prune a cherry tree

Last updated on April 7th, 2022

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If you have a cherry tree in your garden, the fruit you can enjoy is well worth the effort of regular pruning. Pruning not only helps revive otherwise older trees, but keeps them young, in shape (literally), and productive. 

When to prune your cherry tree

If you have a cherry tree, the best time to prune is between the middle of May and the middle of August. This is for regular pruning. Of course, like other trees, if you notice a dead or diseased branch, maybe even one broken by severe winds, you can prune it back to the healthy, solid wood immediately. The longer you let a damaged branch linger, the worse the injury can get. 

How to prune

When the time is right, you want to prune away branches with a set of sharpened, sanitised tools. 

If your cherry tree is young, between one and three years old, it is unlikely it will produce fruit yet so you do not have to concern yourself with trimming away fruiting versus non-fruiting branches. If your tree is older, it is best to prune the top growing stems so that the height of your tree doesn’t get out of hand. The top stems won’t produce fruit either, that is reserved for the lower stems, so do not worry about reducing your supply of fresh fruit. 

When pruning, you also want to keep the centre of the tree open, so any inward growing stems need to be cut away, even if they are producing fruit. Long term this will increase the overall production of cherries from your tree and will be well worth it. 

If you reduce the number of fruits your tree produces, it works in your favour. Most people overlook the fact that a cherry tree that yields too much will only bear small fruit. But a tree whose fruit has been restricted will bear larger, more delicious cherries.  

Years 1-3

The goal here is to help your tree create a good structure and shape. Don’t worry about fruiting yet, help the tree, instead, develop good airflow and light all the way into the centre. 

Year 4 onwards

The goal here is to reduce the risk of infection by removing crossing or diseased branches. You also want to maintain an open centre to encourage more growth. 

Overall, making sure you prune the right way, at the right time of the year will go a long way towards improving the structure, shape, health, and fruit production of your tree.

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