Prune this tree: Red Plum

whiteRhino(8b)March 13, 2013

Let me start by saying this is my first time ever pruning a tree, so I'd like some help. My idea is that eventually I will plant 6-8 fruit trees (including a pollinator for this plum, of course) in raised beds above hard clay on a strong slope in my backyard. Until I'm ready to do that (hopefully sometime this spring) I plan on leaving this in the nursery pot (or root pruning and repotting if that would help growth at this stage). I bought this on sale for $6 a couple of days ago. It's labeled a "Red Lee Plum," although I can't find any reference to that cultivar online.

This tree has a caliper of approx. 1/2inch, its main growth reaches about 40" above the soil and the very highest of the outgrowth reaches 6'. It's just starting to bloom now.

Ultimately I would like to keep the fruit trees that I plant on the slope in the 6-8' range for ease of access. I plan for this to be a "mini-orchard" as a selling point when I put the house on the market in a few years.

1) How old is this tree?

2) Should I leave it in the pot (or a larger one) for now, or would it be better to go in the ground ASAP?

3) Considering the above, should I prune it now, or later?

4) I've seen a lot of videos of planting trees like this and then topping them back to knee high to balance out top vs. root growth. How long does it take to recover from that? Should I do that? The trees in those videos seem somewhat smaller or younger than this one. What does a fruit tree that receives that treatment look like after say, one growing season?

Thanks for any and all advice!

Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

A closer up of the main growth.

    Bookmark   March 13, 2013 at 2:04PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
alan haigh

I would put a post or sturdy stick in the ground and straighten the trunk and train it as a central leader for now- turning it into an open center once I've selected my permanent scaffolds and they have been spread at about 65 degrees.

I would remove the larger branches that are more than a third diameter of the trunk at the point they're attached to trunk and leave everything else.

Either of the co-dominants could lead the trunk- I'd pick the one easiest to straighten and remove the other. I'd do it all tomorrow.

    Bookmark   March 13, 2013 at 5:53PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Bradybb WA-Zone8

I'd put it in the ground or a larger container for awhile. Brady

    Bookmark   March 13, 2013 at 9:32PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I'd take off the two crooked co-leaders and start it as an open center now.

    Bookmark   March 14, 2013 at 10:17AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

At the top of tree, the co-leaders are actually an artifact of the camera angle; one of the branches comes directly towards the lens and appears significantly larger than it really is. The one on the right side (the straighter of the two) is definitely much thicker. Other than that one, none of the branches are any more than 1/3 the thickness of the trunk.

Considering I would like a short tree (6-8ft), does the above change anything? What about the new, small growth at the bottom that starts about 30" off the ground?

If now is not the right time to start an open center, when would be? Can I not just choose four of the largest branches, spreading in different directions and spaced properly along the trunk, as scaffolds now and prune everything else off?

    Bookmark   March 14, 2013 at 3:04PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
alan haigh

You can start your open center now. The main advantage to holding the central leader is that it gives you something to push the branches out from when spreading and its very presence helps encourage more horizontal scaffold branching.

If you top it to make the open center now, I'd reduce the tree to 5 branches pointing in different directions with the intention of eventually reducing it to 3 once branches fill in. You will need to tie them to more horizontal position, most likely, if you want a low spreading tree.

    Bookmark   March 14, 2013 at 6:19PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

If you do want an open center, that's the way I'd go. Maybe even one step down to the leader where the yellow tag is. That would give you 4 scaffolds, although I can't quite judge the spacing from the photo.

    Bookmark   March 14, 2013 at 6:21PM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
what kind of fruit tree is this?
My guess is some type of peach, but the fruit is throwing...
Root control bag to control Mulberry tree size
Hi, I am planning to use a root control bag to limit...
Haskap or Honeyberry?
I am in zone 6 in southern Illinois, so I get extreme...
Walnut scion wanted
I know it is getting late but mine are not budding...
Suburban backyard "orchard" (Z6 SE NY)
Hello all. I have a new to me house and yard (Zone...
Sponsored Products
Raspberry Prune Purple Kelp Brown and Cobble Stone Polyester Filled 20 x 20 Pil
$43.80 | Bellacor
Runner: Estrella2 Sapphire Blue 2' 6" x 8'
Home Depot
Ivy Ball on Stem - 4-1/4"H
$39.50 | FRONTGATE
Worth W1011 Pruner Multicolor - W1011
$19.99 | Hayneedle
Contemporary Indoor/Outdoor Artistic Weavers Rugs Cadaley Prune Purple 2 ft. 6
Home Depot
Slender Ivy Slender Cone in Holiday Wrap with Bow
$89.50 | FRONTGATE
Gilmour Single Shut Off Aluminum Valve Connector - 1403-7964
$22.99 | Hayneedle
Prune Purple Frontier Wool Rug
$39.99 | zulily
People viewed this after searching for:
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™