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Pruning Apple espalier, creating 3rd tier


I have a 2 tier espalier apple tree from a nursery, planted in the winter and it's started growing. I have not pruned the top, but I have just read a book that says to cut the top off in winter in order to stimulate branching and create a third tier.

Do I cut it now, whilst it's growing, or do I wait and hope some of the other buds near the tip also start to grow? They seem pretty dormant, but it's hard to tell what will happen.

Picture attached. Cannot make it the right way up!!!





  • michaelw1michaelw1 Posts: 34

    Forgot to mention, it's a Bramley 20 on a MM106 rootstock. Maybe that's relevant! Thanks

  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Posts: 87,874

    I'm confused at a Bramley being trained as an espalier.  I'd always understood that they're tip-bearers and as such are unsuitable for training as an espalier. 

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

  • michaelw1michaelw1 Posts: 34

    Interesting... maybe that was the first mistake! I wonder why a nursery would sell an espalier Bramley though? 

    Anyway, it's flowing nicely, so I'm sure I'll make it work. Having said that, any ideas on the pruning? 


  • LoxleyLoxley Posts: 5,689

    You prune to a couple of buds at the level you want your next tier, and then train two of the resulting shoots to form the new tier. This Is usually done in winter. I don't know whether it would be a bad idea to do it so late or if you'd get away with it. I suspect you'd probably get away with it. 

    "What is hateful to you, do not do to your neighbour". 
  • michaelw1michaelw1 Posts: 34

    Thanks. I'm leaning towards cutting it.

    Should I have any preference to cut the old wood vs the new growth? The place I want it to branch is about where the new growth has started...

  • LoxleyLoxley Posts: 5,689

    I would cut just below that point, to one of the dormant buds.

    "What is hateful to you, do not do to your neighbour". 
  • michaelw1michaelw1 Posts: 34

    Thanks for your help!

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