How to Prune Mature Japanese Plum Trees

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When pruning a mature Japanese plum tree, maintain a V-shape with a few sturdy branches, prune the tree aggressively in the winter and continue light pruning throughout the summer. Maintain this aggressive species of plum tree with gardening information... View Video Transcript

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Charles Boning

Video Transcript

Hi, I'm Charles Boning. I'm the author of Florida's Best Fruiting Plants. I'm here at Jene's Tropicals to talk briefly about how to prune a mature Japanese plum tree. Now, Japanese plum trees are members of the species Prunus Salicina, are more vigorous in growth than the European species, which is Prunus Domestica. And as a result, they require somewhat more aggressive pruning practices, both in the late winter when the major pruning takes place, and in the summer when light pruning takes place. In the winter, it may be necessary, and hopefully by the time it's mature, a basic scaffolding system is formed on the tree, which generally in Japanese plums as in other types of plums, is V system of pruning. It should have an open center with the major branches splayed out at about a forty five degree angle. But at that point you want to be fairly aggressive in cutting off laterals, and in making sure that the basic framework of the tree in maintained intact. In the summer it may be necessary to clip back overaggressive, vertical growth, and overaggressive laterals, as well. And certainly, in the summer you need to take out any dead wood, any crossing branches, or any water sprouts. Essentially, it's a matter of maintenance, and once the basic framework of the tree is formed, which should take place within four years, it's strictly a matter of staying on top of the tree and making sure it doesn't get out of hand. Another thing that the person pruning a mature Japanese plum tree should be cognizant of is the way to prune major branches, should that be necessary. And you should always use a three cut rule. That means is you're using a chainsaw on a branch, you come in first from the bottom, then you cut a joining cut from the top and lop off the entire branch, and then you remove the stump. That way, as the branch breaks, it won't strip a bunch of bark from the tree, and that's an important thing to remember. I'm Charles Boning, and that's how to prune a mature Japanese plum tree.