Knowing when and how to prune an apple tree is important if you want its fruit to flourish. Here’s some straightforward advice.

 

A gardener’s advice

1. A one-year-old tree is known as a ‘whip’ or ‘maiden’. It has a single stem when purchased. Immediately after planting, cut it back by about half to leave 4 good buds at the base of the stem. This will force growth from the base of the plant during the summer.

2. In the second year, prune in winter by cutting all side branches back by about one-third. Make sure each cut is made cleanly just above an outward-facing bud. In the third and fourth years, new side branches will have emerged from the previous year's growth. Cut back all these new side branches by a third, pruning to an outward-facing bud.

3. By the fifth year the tree should have a well-balanced shape. From then on, cut back all new branches by one-third in winter. Remove any diseased wood and broken branches, and ensure the centre is open to air circulation.

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