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How to Prune an Italian Purple Plum Tree

By D.C. Winston ; Updated September 21, 2017

Italian purple plum trees are a widely grown cultivar of European plum known as Prunus domestica. Italian plums are popular for drying into prunes. The fruit is on the large size for plums and has a deep purple black skin and sweet yellow interior flesh. Italian plums reach maturity for harvest in the mid to late summer and pruning, if needed at all, should be done in the late winter while the plum tree is dormant.

Make all cuts to your plum tree flush against the parent branch but never cutting into the parent branch. When a cut is made that exposes the raw wood cut in the horizontal plane, make the cut on the bias so that rainwater and dew roll off and do not impede the healing of the cut or cause rot. Remove no more than one-third of the plum tree's branches in any single pruning session to reduce stress and the risk of shock.

Identify and remove any branches that are damaged, torn, cracked, broken, appear diseased or that cross and abrade one another. Cut back to the point that removes the damage and leaves you with healthy wood but no further.

Remove select branches to achieve an open tree canopy that allows for good airflow and sunlight penetration into the center of the tree. Place cuts distributed evenly throughout the canopy so that you maintain the attractive natural shape of the tree. Remove more upward or vertical-facing branches and leave more horizontal or outward-growing branches.


Things You Will Need

  • Long-handled loppers
  • Pole saw