How to Prune a Plum Tree


When pruning plum trees, the goal is to create a good form and avoid infection from silver leaf disease. To avoid spreading the disease, plum trees must be pruned during the correct time of year, which is June. Other fruit trees should be pruned in the dormant winter season, but that's not the case with this species.

Step 1

Cut the center stem of a new plum tree at a spot that is two feet above soil level. Use pruning shears to cut it just above a bud.

Step 2

Pull off the bud that sits right below the top bud, as long as there are three to four other buds on the stem.

Step 3

Cut back the main stem in the tree's second year by about 18 inches. Place the cut above a bud. There should be a few branches below the cut, which grew from last year.

Step 4

Trim off the ends of the remaining branches on the tree, so that each one is about 10 inches in length. Make the cuts just above a healthy bud.

Step 5

Remove 18 inches of the main stem again in the third year. Cut just above a bud. Use a pruning saw if the stem is too thick for shears.

Step 6

Prune each of the new branches that grew last season to a length of 10 inches. Cut right above healthy buds.

Step 7

Trim new growth annually to control the size of plum trees. Punch out branches that are growing out to the sides, leaving them with six leaves apiece. This will promote fruit next season.

Step 8

Look for dead, diseased or damaged wood every time you prune. Remove the affected branches by cutting at the place where they meet healthy limbs.

Things You'll Need

  • Gloves
  • Pruning shears
  • Pruning saw
  • Protective sealer


  • Garden Action
  • North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service
Keywords: prune plum tree, plum tree, trim fruit tree

About this Author

Kelly Shetsky has been a broadcast journalist for more than ten years, researching, writing, producing and reporting daily on many topics. In addition, she writes for several websites, specializing in medical, health and fitness, arts and entertainment, travel and business-related topics. Shetsky has a Bachelor of Arts degree in communications from Marist College.