There’s an old farmer’s adage which states, “stone fruit hate the knife.” In short, this means that stone fruit, like plums or cherries, do not handle pruning very well. However, when you’re staring up at the overgrown gnarled branches of your once small and tidy Prunus cerasifera, you may find yourself wondering, should I cut back Myrobalan plum? While frequent or excessively trimming a cherry plum is not recommended, it may be necessary at times. Continue reading to learn when and how to prune Myrobalan cherry plums.
Myrobalan Plum Pruning Info
Myrobalan cherry plums can grow up to 20 feet (6 m.). These large shrubs or small trees can produce an abundance of branches which can become over crowded. With age, cherry plum trees may also stop producing flowers and fruit. Pruning Myrobalan plum trees can help keep them looking full and healthy. However, it is important that Myrobalan plum pruning be timed right.
Unlike other fruit trees, which are pruned while they are dormant, winter is the worst time for trimming a cherry plum because this is when it is the most susceptible to diseases, like bacterial canker or silver leaf disease. Both are fungal diseases which are more virulent in winter. Dormant plum trees have no defenses against these pathogens. In spring, plums infected by silver leaf disease will turn a silver color, and shortly thereafter the branches will die back. Ultimately, pruning Myrobalan plum trees in winter can cause death to the tree.
How to Prune Myrobalan Cherry Plums
Cherry plum trees should be pruned from spring to midsummer. Experts recommend pruning young Myrobalan cherry plum trees in early spring and mature trees in late spring to early summer.
When trimming a cherry plum, remove any suckers growing from the rootstock. You should also remove any crossing or rubbing branches, and dead or damaged branches. Branches from the center of the tree can be thinned out to create better air circulation throughout the tree. Many people use chalk to mark the branches that will need to be pruned.
Old, neglected cherry plums can be rejuvenated over the course of several seasons, through proper pruning. When doing hard, rejuvenation pruning, cut full branches back to their base. It is important, however, to not remove more than 1/3 of the branches in one season. This is why a good rejuvenating pruning can take several seasons.