How to Prune Ornamental Plum Trees


Related to the fruiting plum tree, the ornamental plum tree displays fragrant blooms in springtime. There are many types of ornamental plum, including purple leaf plum and thundercloud plum. Gardeners must wait until the display of flowers has passed before pruning unless they don't mind reducing the springtime display. Gardeners can also prune in late fall, but this results in fewer blossoms.

Step 1

Check over the branches of your ornamental plum for signs of dead, damaged or diseased branched. Dead branches will feel brittle to the touch, while damaged or diseased ones will show discoloration, scarring, wounds or blotches on the bark.

Step 2

Prepare a sanitizing solution of one part bleach to 10 parts water in a bucket. Place your pruning tools in this solution. When pruning away unhealthy wood, dip your tools in the sanitizing solution in between every cut so you don't spread disease or bacteria through the tree.

Step 3

Cut away unhealthy or dead wood at its base. If only the tip of a branch is affected, prune back to a lateral branch. When you've removed all unhealthy wood, throw out the bleach solution. Place all unhealthy wood in a garbage bin.

Step 4

Thin the branches to promote air circulation and light through the tree canopy, which can cut down on the spread of disease. Identify weak branches and branches that compress other limbs. Prune these off at their base. Also remove any wood that grows vertically up.

Step 5

Cut away older wood that produces few to no flowers. Removing this older wood will promote the growth of new flowering limbs.

Things You'll Need

  • Bleach
  • Water
  • Bucket
  • Anvil pruners
  • Lopping shears


  • University of Minnesota: Pruning Trees and Shrubs
  • Ron Smith Horticulturist: Questions on Plum
Keywords: ornamental plum, flowering plum, purple leaf plum

About this Author

Based in Northern California, Elton Dunn is a freelance writer and nonprofit consultant with 14 years' experience. Dunn specializes in travel, food, business, gardening, education and the legal fields. His work has appeared in various print and online publications. Dunn holds a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing and a Bachelor of Arts in English.