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Apple tree pruning advice please

Hi everyone
I have two dwarf apple trees and would appreciate pruning advice. One is 6 years old and the main branch is bending one way. I am wondering whether I should cut the main branch (2nd photo) to encourage a new shoot to form from the opposite side. I also have another apple tree about 4 years old and it remains a stick with three branches with no flowers so far (3rd photo). What should I do to this stick? The bendy one is Royal Gala and the stick is Cox’s Orange Pippin if that helps.

Many thanks in advance!


  • BobTheGardenerBobTheGardener Posts: 11,391
    edited February 2021
    The first one is bending away from that large conifer and it's likely any new growth would too.  It's what trees do.  If you decide to try cutting the leader, do so immediately above an existing vertical branch, or strong bud which will become the new leader and don't leave a stub.
    The second one looks perfect for training along that fence.  I would (carefully and gradually, over a few months) bend the two outer branches to the horizontal, so they look something like the green lines in the photo below.  If you also cut the remaining stem (ie the 'leader') just above a strong bud at about fence height (cut where red line is), then buds on the leader should grow and you can select and train them to follow the yellow lines, making a 2nd tier.  You would need to fit a couple of horizontal wires on the fence to tie the branches to.

    A trowel in the hand is worth a thousand lost under a bush.
  • Thank you for your advice @BobTheGardener. I will follow your advice for the bendy one. Is now the right time to prune apple trees? 

    The second tree is actually about a foot away from the fence. Will it not be too far away from the fence to be tied?
  • Yes, now is the time for any radical pruning but wait until there is no frost forecast for a few days as that will damage the cut, and it may then not heal well. For the 2nd, then you could put 2 stakes about 5 feet apart and a foot away from the fence either side, then run 2 wires between them.  If you don't want to try training it, then I'd cut all 3 back, removing 1/3rd of their length, which will promote side branches to form.  Cut them back to just above outward-facing buds.
    A trowel in the hand is worth a thousand lost under a bush.
  • Oh thank you @BobTheGardener! I will prune both once the beast from the east has passed. Keep well!
  • Pete.8Pete.8 Posts: 10,306
    You could also use fence post brackets to run wires to train your tree.
    I use them for my cordon pears and blackberry.
    They've been in pace for 4 years and work well

    Knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit.
    Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.
  • Thank you @Pete.8. I have a climbing rose and a clematis on that fence so it’s useful to know.
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