Pruning is a way to remove dead matter from your dwarf fruit trees, but it's also a way to keep your dwarf fruit tree healthy and productive. Pruning increases air circulation to the center of the tree and allows you to encourage horizontal growth, which produces fruit. The best time to prune is in the late winter or early spring, before the growth season begins. Pruning dormant fruit trees strengthens the buds and branches that remain on the tree.
Newly Planted Dwarf Fruit Trees
Cut your young fruit tree to a short stick, 24 to 30 inches high, right after you plant it. This will encourage low branching and will equalize the root and the top system. If there are any shoots coming off to the sides below the top cut, prune them back so there are only one or two buds on the branch. To cut a branch or a stem, hold the pruning shears at a 30-degree downward angle about 1/4 inch above a bud. Make a clean cut; do not leave stubs.
Paint the tree trunk with white latex paint to help prevent sunburn and to discourage borers.
Prune young trees most vigorously in the first three years after you plant them. Leave most of the horizontal branches, as these will produce fruit, but cut back the vertical branches by half to increase sunlight and air circulation to the center and lower branches of the tree.
Remove any dead material from the dwarf tree. Branches, stems and leaves that are brown should be cut away from the tree.
Remove any suckers that are sprouting up around the base of the tree. Suckers are new growth that springs up from the rootstock of your fruit tree. Cut these down to the ground during the summer so they will not have time to re-sprout.
Prune away 50% of the previous year's growth on your dwarf peach and nectarine trees. For apples, pears and cherry trees, remove 20% of the previous year's growth. To prune citrus trees, remove any dead material and keep the skirts off of the ground.
Discard all of the pruning debris. Disease and insects enjoy rotting material, so you need to remove it from the vicinity of your dwarf fruit trees.
About this Author
Katherine Kally is a freelance writer specializing in eco-friendly home-improvement projects, practical craft ideas and cost-effective decorating solutions. Kally's work has been featured on sites across the Web. She holds a Bachelor of Science in psychology from the University of South Carolina and is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.