Pruning For Potted Fruit Trees – How To Prune A Potted Fruit Tree

Large Potted Fruit Tree
potted fruit tree
(Image credit: devnenski)

Pruning fruit trees in containers is generally a breeze when compared with pruning fruit trees in the orchard. Since gardeners usually choose dwarf cultivars for container planting, potted fruit tree pruning is less arduous. Also, easy access to the tree is guaranteed. If you are wondering how to prune a potted fruit tree, you’ll be happy to hear that it’s not difficult. Read on for tips on how and when to prune fruit trees in pots.

Pruning for Potted Fruit Trees

Pruning fruit trees is a very important element of maintenance, whether the trees grow in the orchard or in containers on the porch or patio. Trimming helps keep the tree the size and shape you want it to be and maintains the tree’s health.

Potted fruit tree pruning, like pruning field fruit trees, can also have a beneficial effect on fruit production. Almost any type of fruit tree can be grown in a pot, and each must be pruned to keep it happy and thriving. In short, pruning for potted fruit trees is just as important as regular fruit tree trimming.

Since the goals of pruning fruit trees in containers are the same as for planted fruit trees, the techniques you use are also the same, but it’s easier. Most gardeners pick short, compact cultivars or dwarf varieties for container trees. Their smaller size means easier pruning. You won’t have to remove long branches when you trim.

How to Prune a Potted Fruit Tree

The first item on the pruning priority list is always done to maintain tree health. You need to prune out all dead, damaged or diseased branches. Regular attention to this aspect of pruning for potted trees can prevent a small problem from becoming a big one.

You’ll also want to focus on clearing out the inside of the container fruit tree’s canopy. Removing the twigs and new shoots that appear in the center of the canopy means that foliage and fruit will grow outside, where they can get sunshine and ample airflow.

Last, you prune to keep the size of the tree down. During the first few years, just prune container trees lightly, allowing them to grow a little taller each year. After they reach a good size for the container, you’ll need to keep them that size.

Alternatively, you can repot a tree in spring, using a slightly larger container. If you do, trim off a little of the rootball and a similar amount of foliage.

When to Prune Fruit Trees in Pots

Just like the fruit trees in your orchard, you need to prune your container fruit trees at the appropriate time. When to prune fruit trees in pots? It depends on the circumstances.

Many fruit trees are deciduous, losing their leaves in late autumn and starting new growth in spring. Any major pruning should be saved until after the container tree is dormant. Some gardeners prefer to prune just after the leaves fall, but many recommend pruning early in spring.

Teo Spengler

Teo Spengler has been gardening for 30 years. She is a docent at the San Francisco Botanical Garden. Her passion is trees, 250 of which she has planted on her land in France.