Trimming cherry trees is important in keeping the tree to a manageable size so that it can be protected by nets during fruiting. Cherry tree size can also be controlled by growing in a pot at least 50 cm in diameter and 45 cm deep.
When to prune a cherry tree? It is best to prune when harvesting has been completed, and so in June or July, depending on the climate of your location. Pruning after harvest helps stop wound infection by fungal diseases such as Silver Leaf, and Bacterial Canker.
You can also reduce the risk of infection by disinfecting your tools with alcohol or dilute bleach solution before starting.
Here are our tips on how to prune free-standing cherry trees:
- The first pruning, in June, after having planted in winter, should include cutting back the central leader to encourage the growth of lateral branches,
- In June of the second year, you can begin to create the tree structure selecting 4 or 5 main lateral branches growing at about 60° from the trunk, the lowest about 18 inches/45 cm from the ground. Cut these branches back to about 2 feet//60 cm with an angled cut above a bud.
- Remove other branches cutting close to the central leader.
- Next year, create a second tier with another 4 or 5 branches, evenly spaced with respect to the first tier.
- From then on, annual pruning in June will enable you to control tree size and renew the fruiting branches. In general, when pruning cherry trees, try to make as few cuts as possible, removing a few complete branches in order to give the canopy an open structure.
- Remove suckers, any dead, diseased or damaged wood, and then remove branches growing in towards the trunk, or upwards near to vertical.
How to prune espalier cherry trees
- It is best to prune espalier cherry trees in June, July or August.
- Remove large branches that are unnecessary for the espalier training pattern you have chosen. Cut back to within ⅜ inches/1 cm from the main branch or trunk.
- In cherries it is important to seal the cuts with Heal and seal immediately after cutting.
- Leave enough wood for the formation of new fruit bud for next year’s crop.
- In cherries there is generally no problem in cropping, the tree naturally creates ample fruit bud. Just remove enough shoots to prevent excessive shading,
- Remember to organize nets next spring to protect the fruit from birds.