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Espalier Trees Advice and Pruning

Col36Col36 Posts: 4


Last year, I moved into my first house with a garden and, in my eagerness to get started, I purchased two fruit trees (a Morrello Cherry and a Victoria plum) to train a long a shady garage wall.

All went well: the trees are in the ground over winter, attached to wires in the espalier shape and starting to see flowers all over the cherry and nice healthy leaves on the plum.

But, I've discovered I picked the "wrong" root stock St Julian for plum and colt for the cherry both vigorous root stocks. I'm hoping because the garage wall is very shady apart from a couple of hours of sunlight the trees will not be too vigorous. What do you think?

Both trees are attached to the lowest wire of 3, spaced 300mm apart. The plum tree is particularly keen on growing from the top when I would prefer it to grow lower down for the second wires.  

Is it okay to trim undesirable branches for throughout the year of do you have to wait for the autumn?


  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Posts: 86,979

    Hmm  - I think you have made more complications for yourself as well as the rootstock issue ....... cherries don't espalier well, they're better trained as fans.  

    Plums shouldn't be pruned before midsummer, because it makes them susceptible to silver-leaf disease.

    I'm sorry ... I've pointed out the problems but I can't think of any solution at the moment image

    What do others think? 

    Gardening in Central Norfolk on improved gritty moraine over chalk ... free-draining.

  • Col36Col36 Posts: 4


    Would I be able to convert these trees into fan, by fixing canes to the wires?  

    The trees have a 3 foot of trunk before the first lateral branches. Maybe, if I fixed the lateral branches at 45 degrees now and follow the steps for Feathered Maiden here ( ???

    Looking at the RHS website the root stock is suitable for fan trees just slight more vigorous than I would like.

  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Posts: 86,979

    What have you got to loose?  I'd give it a go image

    Gardening in Central Norfolk on improved gritty moraine over chalk ... free-draining.

  • lb191lb191 Posts: 80

    I'm fanning a cherry tree and I thought the recommended rootstock was colt. Thats what I went for anyway to cover a 5m secion of fence.

  • Col36Col36 Posts: 4

    Thinking about my plum and cherry trees overnight. I've also put them too close together. Each tree currently has approximately a 2Mx2M section of wall. 

    Reading RHS website the cherry will need 2M height x 3.5M across and the plum needs 2M height x 4M across. So I think I need to move them apart. Is this correct?

    If so, I'm planning to prune both trees mid - late August and dig up & reposition them in December. Does this sound reasonable?

  • I think you should be ok with the rootstocks as they are not growing in the best position (dry shade) and unless you go to a specialist these are the rootstocks these fruit trees are usually supplied on. The Morello cherry will do well in the shade, they are often recommended for a north facing wall. I've only espaliered and cordoned apples in the past, never attempted a fan, which is the recommended form for stone fruit. I'm not sure if the lateral branches shouldn't start nearer the base of the tree, you say they are 3 foot up? Perhaps leave them unpruned for this summer & see if you get some more lateral branches to play with and think about training them next year? If you have to move them do so in late autumn when they are dormant. I think moving them to about 4m apart would be good, you don't want them growing into each other. 

  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Posts: 86,979

    Gardening in Central Norfolk on improved gritty moraine over chalk ... free-draining.

  • Col36Col36 Posts: 4

    My Cherry tree is doing well, although I loose most fruit to the birds.

    But my plum tree is a little out of control (see below). Planning to give it a prune in the summer once the fruit has finish.

    Do you have any suggestions for pruning / train to give me a little more control?
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