How to Prune a Flowering Prune Tree


The flowering prune tree, scientifically known as Prunus cerasifera and more commonly known as the flowering plum tree, rewards gardeners each spring with its fragrant pink blossoms. This tree can reach up to 25 feet tall and features glossy, dark purple leaves and reddish-gray bark. While flowering prunes (or plums) do produce a small edible drupe, their main attraction is the cascade of flowers. To fully enjoy the flowering plum, wait until its blossoms have dropped to prune, typically in the late spring.

Step 1

Check the branches of your flowering plum for signs of dead, diseased or damaged wood. Damaged and diseased wood will be physically marred and dead wood will be hollow to the touch. This wood should be remove for the health of the tree.

Step 2

Combine one part bleach with 10 parts water in a bucket, then place your pruning tools in the bucket. Cut off dead, diseased and damaged wood at the base, taking care not to cut into the tree trunk. After making a cut, dip the pruners in the cleaning solution again, then perform the next cut.

Step 3

Dispose of all dead and diseased wood in the garbage bin. Disinfect your pruning tools one more time, then throw away the cleaning solution.

Step 4

Trim off low-growing branches that impede movement underneath the tree. Also remove any branches that grow downward.

Step 5

Thin out the tree's canopy by removing branches from crowded areas. Cut off any branches that rub against other branches, and any branches growing that make less than a 30-degree angle with the trunk since they grow too close to the trunk. Remove weak branches and leave healthy-looking wood. Use anvil pruners for thin branches and lopping shears for fat ones.

Step 6

Cut the flowering plum tree's branches back to reduce the tree's height. Determine how many inches you wish to trim the tree, then snip back branches with the anvil pruners, cutting 1/4 inch above a leaf or an offshoot from that branch.

Things You'll Need

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


  • University of Minnesota: Pruning Trees and Shrubs
  • Purdue University: Pruning Ornamental Trees and Shrubs
Keywords: prune plum tree, prune flowering plum, when to prune

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.