Summer Pruning step-by-step

Summer pruning is necessary for wall trained fruit to develop and maintain the desired form and encourage fruit production. It should be carried out in July for cherries, gages and plums and in August for apples and pears. You will need nice sharp secateurs, bamboo canes and plant ties.

The purpose of summer pruning is:

  1. To remove new vegetative (leafy) growth
  2. To reduce the tree’s vigour
  3. To allow air and sun to get to ripening fruit
  4. To remove shoots growing towards the fence or wall
  5. To encourage the formation of fruiting spurs
  6. To extend the permanent framework

Getting started

Look carefully at the two photos below, showing a trained (fan) fruit tree before and after summer pruning.

Before summer pruning – note the long new shoots.

After summer pruning – the long shoots have been shortened or tied in to bamboo canes to extend the permanent framework.

——— Step-by-Step ———

1. Identify the long shoots that have grown this year.

2. Take one of the shoots and count up 4 or 5 leaves from the base.

3. Cut off the shoot at this point just above a leaf.

4. Only a short ‘spur’ with 4 or 5 leaves should remain. This spur will tend to develop flowering buds in future.

5. Any shoots that are growing towards the fence should be cut out entirely at their base, flush with the branch they sprout from. This will prevent regrowth from this point in the future.

To extend the permanent framework

6. Identify a shoot that is in the right place to create a new permanent branch to extend your trained form. Prune back all other shoots as per 2-4 above.

7. Tie the remaining shoot to a bamboo cane and gently bend it into position. Tie the cane to the wire supports on your fence or wall.

8. Shoots coming from the tips of permanent branches can either be tied in to extend the framework or they can be cut off if they have reached the required extent.

Adjusting the permanent framework

9. As permanent framework branches become longer than their supporting canes it will be necessary to replace the canes with longer ones.

10. If branches are only one or two years old they will probably be flexible enough to raise or lower by a few degrees if required to adjust the shape and spacing of the framework, but as branches age they become more brittle and may snap if bent too far.

10. Finally, check all old ties and ensure they are not strangling the growing stems. Loosen and replace them as necessary.

>Recommended Link: Video tutorial on Summer Pruning



6 thoughts on “Summer Pruning step-by-step”

    • Hello Maria,

      Well, I don’t actually have any peaches myself, but, yes, they need summer pruning too, in the same way sour (acid) cherries do: the fruit forms on one year old wood, so the instructions are a bit different to those above. BTW If outdoors they shouldn’t be pruned much past the end of August, as a major disease – silver leaf – is carried on the rain from autumn to spring and gets in through new cuts.

      Here is a link to peach pruning instructions:
      Good luck!

  1. Hello, Wonderful examples of trained fruit. I think your blog is terrific and truly inspiring. Well done. I plan to have a go and have made a few purchases to plant this winter and begin a similar adventure next season. I’m still preparing my planting sites and pondering the whole issue of support wires. Unfortunately, I have inherited concrete fence pots with the house, so plan to put a few free standing wooden posts near them. What kind of wire do you use and how to you apply tension? What about spacing between wires and how often do you tighten them when slackening? Does a tree with woody branches flex when the wires eventually slacken over the growing season? I’d be interested to know your thoughts on the matter.
    Kind regards,

  2. Hi there,
    I have spent hours researching fruit tree training, and this is the best step by step I have read so far! I was wondering if you could explain #9 a bit more. I am not quite sure what it means. Thank you!

    • Hi Tiffany,

      Thanks for stopping by. Step 9? (“9. As permanent framework branches become longer than their supporting canes it will be necessary to replace the canes with longer ones”)

      Depending on the available space, you might want to increase the overall size of your espalier or fan etc. as time goes by. So when your tree was young you might have only used 4 ft canes for example, but several years down the line you might want to train your tree across a wider area – say 8ft either way as I did with my cherry (see here: ).

      Summer pruning is the ideal time to take out some of the old, short canes and replace them with longer ones. You can tie in any terminal growth (shoots that extend from the end of the branches) to increase the overall spread of your tree.

      Hope that makes sense – please feel free to ask if I can clarify anything else!


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