How to Prune a Flowering Plum


Touted as an ornamental tree rather than a fruit tree, the flowering plum tree is popular for its show of springtime blossoms. After the petals of the blossoms have snowed down onto your lawn, you will be able to enjoy the show of the flowering plum's dark purple leaves followed by its colorful fall foliage. Pruning the flowering plum is a task that will keep the tree healthy and productive. Flowering plums produce a lot of sap in the spring as they grow their leaves. To minimize bleeding, prune the tree after the leaves have matured.

Step 1

Start pruning the flowering plum tree the same year it is planted. Remove and cut back branches on 1-year-old saplings to help shape the tree and encourage new growth.

Step 2

Remove branches from the flowering plum so that it has one trunk and five to eight lateral branches. Keep the lateral branches that are well-spaced around the trunk. Remove any branches that are growing low on the trunk.

Step 3

Remove any branches with too narrow of an angle to the trunk, as well as those growing in the wrong direction. Remove branches growing too close to other branches, damaged branches and badly formed branches. Do this annually.

Step 4

Prune for maintenance after the framework has been established. Thinning and cutting back of healthy growth as well as the removal of damaged branches and suckers should be done yearly.

Tips and Warnings

  • A mature plum tree should not have any lateral branches on the first 5 feet of the trunk. Never remove more than 1/4 of flowering plum during a growing season.

Things You'll Need

  • Pruning shears
  • Loppers
  • Pruning saw


  • University of Georgia: Pruning Ornamental Plants in the Landscape
  • University of Minnesota: Pruning Trees and Shrubs
  • Purdue University: Pruning Ornamental Trees and Shrubs
Keywords: pruning flowering plum tree, flowering plum tree care, maintaining flowering plum

About this Author

Em Connell McCarty has been writing for 27 years. She studied writing at the University of Iowa and at Hollins University in Virginia. She writes fiction, creative non-fiction and essays. McCarty's work has been published in Hip Mama magazine.