All decorative and formally shaped fruit trees, such as espaliers, need summer pruning to regulate new growth and encourage the formation of the stubby ‘spurs’ that bear fruit.
In general pears can be pruned from mid-July, and apples several weeks later, up to about the end of August. This year’s shoots are ready to prune when the lower third has turned woody and firm.
Summer is the only time to prune plums, cherries, gages and damsons, because of their susceptibility to silverleaf disease. Fungal spores can enter through pruning cuts, but from fruiting until the end of August the spores are least active and wounds heal fastest. Make sure you use the best tools for pruning – for clean cuts that heal quickly. Avoid loppers, as they can bruise the stems.
How to prune apple trees in summer
In this practical No Fuss video guide, David Hurrion demonstrates how to prune apple trees in summer, to ensure a good crop the following year. This method is ideal for trained and restricted forms of both apples and pears:
In this video clip from Gardeners’ World, Monty Don demonstrates how to prune a step-over apple tree, which is designed to produce large quantities of fruit in a small space:
Find out how to prune trained apple trees in summer, as well as other fruit trees, in this simple step by step guide, below.
Don’t prune tip-bearing cultivars
With apples, make sure your variety is a spurbearer. Tip-bearers mustn’t be pruned in summer, as you’ll remove the developing fruits.