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Marie Iannotti

Have You Pruned Your Apple Tree?

By February 26, 2014

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I get more questions about pruning apple trees than anything else. Don't believe me? Take a look at the amount of comments, below.

Most fruit trees should be pruned while they are dormant. Unfortunately that's also the time most gardeners would prefer to be hibernating indoors; which would explain why there are so many overgrown, under-productive apple trees out there. And if you're timid about pruning in general, apple trees probably scare you to death.

Good news - unless your tree is declining or diseased, it's not too late to bring it back! You can see by the number of comments that have accumulated since this blog was first posted, you're not alone with your questions and reservations. Just keep telling yourself that it's very hard to kill an apple tree by pruning it, but neglecting it is an invitation for problems. Get out there soon and prune away while your tree is still dormant, then watch it thank you later this season.


February 28, 2007 at 6:10 pm
(1) kaisgma says:

I have pruned my apple tree into a Champagne glass shape. It produces very well, but your comments about thinning tells me I need to prune some more.

March 2, 2007 at 9:32 am
(2) Marie Iannotti says:

A Champagne glass – How festive and elegant! Thinning will help let the sun in, so all those apples can ripen.

March 30, 2007 at 2:05 am
(3) Test says:

Hi all!


May 1, 2007 at 10:35 pm
(4) Teressa says:

I pruned my overgrown apple tree about 2.5-3.5 weeks after blooming…Have I put my tree in jeopardy? Do I need to seal all branches or just the larger ones or not at all…? Please help!

May 2, 2007 at 12:53 pm
(5) Marie Iannotti says:

Your tree should be fine. Late winter is the optimal time to prune, since the tree is dormant and there’s less stress on it then. But you can make cuts anytime. The worst that will happen is slower growth and maybe less blooms this season. It’s better you get to it now than never. Just make sure it gets plenty of water as it leafs out and readjusts.

Don’t bother sealing the wounds. They say trees are better able to heal themselves if they’re left alone. Keep an eye out for problems and treat them quickly, if they should come up.

June 23, 2007 at 8:07 pm
(6) Christina says:

I’ve just figured out I have an apple tree in our back yard. We just moved in and the first and only fruit just dropped to the ground. It has some kind of fungus on the branches and quite a few are not prducing any leaves at all.

Is it ok to remove ALL dead limbs or should we just do a little at a time. Is it even possible to save this tree?

June 25, 2007 at 3:53 pm
(7) gardening says:

Apple trees should be pruned in late winter or early spring, while they are dormant. Pruning encourages the fruiting spur branches where the fruit it set. If you have a really old, uncared for tree, you could be doing some clean-up pruning for a couple of years, but you should start to see an improvement in the tree the first year.

It’s recommended that you not remove more than a third of a tree’s branches at one time. However, if the branches are dead, they’re only going to cause problems. So go ahead and remove the dead branches now, even though it’s not the optimum time. Save the maintenance pruning of the healthy branches for next spring. Here’s a pictorial to help get you started.

Old apple trees can often be revived. It all depends on how far gone they are and whether you’ll like the look of the tree once it’s pruned. It will also take awhile before you start seeing a good size harvest.

August 16, 2007 at 6:44 pm
(8) Mary says:

I have two mature apple trees in my yard. They do not get pruned every year so sometimes yeild many apples and sometimes almost none. They are very full with many small branches. I had someone come to shape the trees. He topped them straight accross so now they are flat and look like shrubs on the top rather than a rounded tree. When I look at the top I just see a sea of cut off branches – most less than 2″ in diameter. Do I need to worry that this will hurt or even kill my trees? When do I fertilize and how do I best help them recover from this?

January 29, 2011 at 7:12 pm
(9) Laurie says:

My idiot husband turned my 30 year old golden delicious and santa rosa plum trees both into coat racks today- taking all small branches, leaves nd anything else off with straight cuts- at least 60% of each tree wiped out in one fell swoop. Any hope either of these can come back? They were both healthy and beautiful- part shade trees and part bearing really good fruit these last few years.

August 20, 2007 at 3:27 pm
(10) gardening says:

Topping the trees was not the best idea. It will weaken them, but it probably won’t kill them. It does sound like you have a lot of watersprouts or suckers that developed from the pruning and they should be cut out next early spring.

Fertilizing is also done in the early spring, before the leaves start to open. Use any granular fertilizer labeled for use on fruit bearing trees. They are usually somewhere in the 10-6-4 range. Broadcast it all around the base of the tree out to the ends of the branches, keeping it away from the trunk. The fertilizer bag should tell you how much to use based on the diameter of the tree’s trunk.

September 14, 2007 at 1:52 pm
(11) Sarah says:

I have a Granny Smith apple tree which is around a year old. Some of the branches have no leaves on them and I think that they are dead. They seem to have some sort of disease which leaves a scaled effect on the branches. The parts of the tree without the scaled effect have new growth and leaves. Shall I cut off the branches which are diseased, and will this help the trees’ general health?

September 17, 2007 at 1:11 pm
(12) Marie Iannotti says:

Dead wood can be removed from fruit trees at anytime of year. Prune these branches in gradually from the tips, to see if there is any green wood inside or if they are brown, brittle and dead.

I’m more concerned that you find out what is wrong with the tree. I can’t think what would cause a scale effect, but if you take a sample of the affected branches to a nursery or your local Extension office, they should be able to diagnose the problem. If it’s something that could spread, it’s best to catch it early.

October 3, 2007 at 10:41 pm
(13) Anthony Stephan says:

Hi, I have an old apple tree which produced over 500 lbs of apples this year. I put over 50 lbs of wood ash on it and it towered up an additional 6-7 feet over the summer. The ash did an amazing thing for the production and general health of the tree. Can I cut down the top of the tree in fall to manage it.

October 5, 2007 at 1:36 pm
(14) gardening says:

That’s a lot of apple pie!

You can top the tree, although it might look a little odd if it’s wider than it is tall. But it won’t hurt the tree. Wait until the leaves drop and the tree is dormant.

January 6, 2008 at 8:12 pm
(15) howdy says:





January 9, 2008 at 4:07 pm
(16) gardening says:

Howdy, you’ve bitten off a lot there. It’s not uncommon for young trees not to produce fruit. I’m actually surprised at the luck you had with apples and walnuts so early.

Apples and pears are usually pruned in late winter, while they are still dormant. Peaches, apricots and other “stone” fruits are done a little later (March, early April). I thinks it’s too much info to give here, so I’ll point you to a couple of articles. Colorado State has a good overview of pruning stone fruits. Clemson Extension does a good job demonstrating apple and pear pruning.

Unless you have full size trees, you should be able to thin the fruits yourself. Fruit thinning is generally done shortly after fruit set, although you can continue to thin during the season if necessary. When thinning by hand doesn’t seem feasible, some people use sticks to tap and shake the young fruits off. I’ve never been very good at that.

Thin most fruits about six to eight inches apart. Early ripening fruits can be pruned to up to 10 inches apart, since they don’t have as long a season to mature. I hope this helps.

June 1, 2008 at 7:32 am
(17) Karen black says:

Something (probably deer) damaged the trunk on my young apple tree about 1 foot from the ground. The tree is only about 6 feet tall and did not get any leaves this year, except at the bottom of the tree, below the damaged bark, There art new shoot emerging from there now. Can the tree be saved, and how?

June 2, 2008 at 2:02 pm
(18) gardening says:

I’m sorry to say, it sounds like your tree isn’t going to make it. If there are no leaves above the damage, the tree isn’t getting any water. The bark protects the phloem layer directly underneath it. This is the trees circulatory system. If the phloem is damaged on more than 50% of the tree’s circumference, the tree is effectively girdled and it’s not taking up water or nourishment above the damaged spot.

Since apple trees are grafted onto hardy root stock, the shoots at the bottom of the tree are most likely coming from the root stock and will not grow into the kind of apple tree your purchased. Sorry.

June 5, 2008 at 9:26 am
(19) rubin pohl says:

my 10 yr old apple tree has no blossoms this yr , what happened?

June 6, 2008 at 2:18 pm
(20) gardening says:

Assuming you’ve done maintenance pruning, it could have been a late frost.

June 6, 2008 at 10:40 pm
(21) Brian says:

I have a semi-dwarf Golden Delicious that yielded abundantly last year – probably two to three bushels. This year, no blossoms. I have two Gala, one Courtland and a Macintosh in the orchard, and they all have varying amounts of apples this year, but not a blossom on the the Golden Delicious. Any ideas?

June 16, 2008 at 9:54 am
(22) rachel says:

I have a peach tree, cherry tree, and an apple tree that the dear have rubbed all the bark off of. They are very young trees (just planted last summer). There is no growth on the tops of the trees at all (assuming they are dead), but they have new growth and sprouts at the base of the trees. Can I just cut the whole top off and let the sprouts grow? Will this produce a good tree? Do I cut the sprouts and replant? I don’t know what to do and googling isn’t helping. I cannot find any answers. Thanks!

June 17, 2008 at 1:04 pm
(23) gardening says:

Rachel, it doesn’t look good for your trees. If there’s no growth on the top of the plants, they are indeed dead.

Unfortunately since most fruit trees are grafted onto hardier root stocks, the sprouts coming up at ground level are most likely shoots from the root stock and not the same as the fruit trees, or top portions, that you were trying to grow.

July 8, 2008 at 8:53 pm
(24) Shoshana says:

I have an apple tree that must be 50 or more years old. It has been neglected but is very beautiful and bears many small fruit. There are a lot of dead branches on the tree, many suckers and the main trunk and one of the main limbs is hollow and partially rotted. A tree guy told me to prune the dead wood and suckers and seal the trunk with foam. My landscaper/tree service said to leave it alone and just fertilize it. What say you?

July 10, 2008 at 4:30 pm
(25) gardening says:

That’s a tough one. Usually I always recommend cutting out dead wood, since it just attracts problems. But I also believe that if something ain’t broke, don’t fix it. If it were my tree, I’d probably do a small amount of pruning each year and watch how the tree responds.

July 10, 2008 at 6:00 pm
(26) Shoshana says:

What about the suggestion of sealing up the hollow part with foam? Have you ever heard of that? Thanks for your advice.

July 11, 2008 at 12:34 pm
(27) gardening says:

Iím not very experienced with that. The only reason Iíve ever heard for filling tree holes is to stop the tree from collapsing on itself. They used to recommend sealing tree wounds, to stop decay and discourage insects, but then they found that trees did a better job of sealing themselves.

However if the hollow area is rotting, foam isn’t going to stop it. It would be better if you could remove the rotting portion, but it doesnít sound like thatís an option. I guess I agree with the landscapers. Why stress a tree that has already learned how to compensate for its problems?

July 14, 2008 at 3:42 pm
(28) tree landscaping says:

pruning really helps in making tress healthy…proper maintenance is the key…

July 15, 2008 at 10:28 pm
(29) Cheri says:

I have an apple tree that had massive blossoms this spring, but it is now mid-July and i don’t see any apples! Any Ideas?

July 18, 2008 at 3:48 pm
(30) gardening says:

Do you have two types of apples that bloom at the same time, so they can cross pollinate? If it’s a young tree, maybe it just wasn’t ready to handle fruit set yet.

It could also be that there were no pollinators out when the blossoms were open. If it was cold or there was a lot of rain, the bees could have stayed away.

August 24, 2008 at 12:33 am
(31) JimDavis says:

I have a dwarf apple tree that was planted this past spring. It bore some fruit (about 10 small apples) and seemed fine. Then, all of a sudden, a few days ago, all of the leaves have shrivelled up, and are drying out. I live in the desert, but the tree gets PLENTY of water. It survived June/July with 110 degree days…yet now, it has only been in the 90′s. What is the problem?

August 28, 2008 at 3:25 pm
(32) gardening says:

Usually when leaves suddenly dry up in think of fire blight, but that generally affects trees in the spring.

By any chance, was there weed killer sprayed in the area or did you do any digging near the roots?

If not, are there any other symptoms, like spots on the leaves or dark patches on the bark?

September 17, 2008 at 9:29 pm
(33) Ted Hindes says:

I want to ask what is the earliest time in the fall when I can prune apple trees. I travel in winter and prefer to trim in fall if possible. These are old trees, I would guess 40-50 years old with no pruning that I know of. They have a many large branches off their single or double trunks and are in severe need of pruning. I am located in NW Lower Peninsula of Michigan. The leaves will drop by the end of October I believe. Thanks

September 29, 2008 at 1:45 pm
(34) gardening says:

It really is best to wait until after a hard frost, to make substantial cuts to an apple tree. I would guess that since your tree is overgrown and unpruned, it’s not bearing a lot of fruit, so you could do a small amount of cleaning up in fall. But anything drastic could weaken it’s ability to get through the winter. If there is dead or damaged wood that you want to cut out, you can do that anytime.

January 19, 2009 at 6:11 am
(35) Tony says:

Hi I have just purchased a house with 12 or so apple trees and 3 of them in the same area have hollowed out one so bad that its only just got the outer holding it up and open half away around, the other two arm so bad but have a hole right the way through the hole tree in the centre section. All these trees are next to each other is it spreading and should I just remove them and plant new. They do produce friut and good friut. ~Any ideas Cheers tony

January 21, 2009 at 12:33 pm
(36) Marie Iannotti says:

Hollows in trees can be caused by a lot of things, but if there are several trees close by with the same problem, it’s probably some type of fungus or disease that is spreading. It’s impossible to say what with out inspecting the tree, but you might want to have someone look at it so you can stop it from spreading further. You’ll probably see more symptoms when it’s in leaf than when it’s dormant.

Trees can live and produce for years even though they have a hollow in them. But holes are invitations for other problems, so you don’t want things to get worse.

January 25, 2009 at 2:06 pm
(37) Stan says:

Our golden delicious tree,was never pruned by the previous owner. The tree is probably 20-25 years old. This past summer, the tree literally split in half, due to all of the (small) apples on it.

The half, that split, is horizontal to the ground, although it still seems to be alive. Should I cut this off at the split, or leave it, and give it a hardy pruning of its branches?

Thank you for your response!

January 26, 2009 at 1:42 pm
(38) Marie Iannotti says:

Stan, that’s a tough one. Any kind of open wound is bad for the tree in the long run. Split trees can live for years, but if it doesn’t heal over, it’s an invitation for disease and insects.

You might want to contact an arborist. They can sometimes brace the two halves of a damaged tree, so that it can fuse back together. Otherwise I think I’d remove the spit section and focus on pruning and caring for the remaining portion of the tree.

February 14, 2009 at 4:48 pm
(39) Susan says:

My apple tree is 4 years old and produces apples all year round here in So. Cal. When is a good time to prune?

February 20, 2009 at 1:07 pm
(40) Marie Iannotti says:

You generally prune in Jan/Feb, in Southern Cal.

You must have one of the low-chill varieties, like ‘Anna’. They might not go dormant, but they still tend to slow down, in the winter months. You probably don’t have to prune much, but a little regular pruning will keep it rejuvenated.

March 22, 2009 at 3:54 pm
(41) KT L says:

Can any one help I have recently moved & in the garden I have to mature apple tree which are in urgent need of pruning, I’ve been told the branches where touching the floor last year as the crop was so heavy.

Is it to late to pruning now? As they need doing urgently?

March 27, 2009 at 3:07 pm
(42) gardening says:

Better now than to wait any longer. It won’t hurt the tree.

May 3, 2009 at 8:41 pm
(43) clint says:

i have about ten apple trees i planted that are about 5 to 6 years old now. I prune them every winter and fertilize them as well. i have never had any of my apple trees get blossoms on them. it is very frustrating, what do i do.

May 8, 2009 at 2:26 pm
(44) Marie Iannotti says:

Clint, full size apple trees can take several years to start setting fruits, but dwarfs and semi-dwarfs should at least be blossoming. I’m not really sure why they’re not blooming.

Sometimes trees under stress, like drought the season before, won’t set fruit. Also make sure you’re not pruning off the fruiting spurs when you prune.

Any other ideas out there?

June 6, 2011 at 2:23 am
(45) John Arant says:

As I understand it, blosom buds are set on one-year old growth. Is it possible that, although Clint is pruning in winter, is he pruning off all one year old growth?

May 11, 2009 at 9:26 am
(46) Karen says:

We had a very windy day here yesterday in N.Y. and this morning I noticed a large branch down from our 3 year old, seemly healthy, apple tree. It was a lower branch, about an inch in diameter, covered in leaves and blossoms, but completely hollow. On closer inspection I noticed 2 neat little holes on the branch – almost like it had been drilled into.
I have 3 questions. Why would the branch be hollow when it looked so healthy? Should I be worried about the rest of the tree? Should I prune the broken branch to the trunk or leave it the way it broke?

May 11, 2009 at 12:41 pm
(47) Marie Iannotti says:

There are some borers that attack apple trees, but they leave behind saw dust. Usually clean holes like that are made by birds, like woodpeckers, who are looking for the insects that live under the bark. And it sounds like your branch has been dying back for awhile now, so there were probably insects taking advantage of it.

I’d look for other symptoms, to try and figure our what went wrong with the branch. Look for frass (insect droppings), sawdust or signs of disease or injury. I don’t think I’d be too worried about excess damage throughout the tree, since it is growing well. You would have noticed dead, dry or hollow limbs when you pruned it.

Sometimes it’s just a girdled branch or a lightening strike that causes a portion of a tree to die. But trees can live a long time, even when their centers hollow out. Their water and nutrients travel just below the bark. Keep an eye on the tree this season and make a clean cut where the branch broke off, so it doesn’t invite further problems.

May 20, 2009 at 4:25 pm
(48) clint says:

my one plum tree has a few wilted branches on it and i noticed that there are alot of pin holes all over the tree, i sprayed it with maliathon, there is saw dust at the pinholes, how do i get rid of burrowers. any suggestions?

May 23, 2009 at 10:22 am
(49) kodi majors says:

Hi. I bought an apple tree last year about 7 ft tall. this spring it still has no leaves except on 1 branch and some coming up from the bottom. should i give it some more time, lop off the top, or simply purchase another?

May 26, 2009 at 3:27 pm
(50) gardening says:

Kodi, your tree should have leafed out by now. The shoots coming from the bottom of the tree are either suckers or they’re growing from the root stock, so you don’t want to lop off the top and let them grow.

Usually nurseries have at least a one year guarantee on trees. Check where you bought it. They may be able to give you a replacement for free.

May 27, 2009 at 3:46 pm
(51) Joni says:

My Mom has a apple tree that is three years old. The first year it had about three apples that matured. Most fell off before full growth. The second year there were hundreds, but there again the vast majority fell off. Although we did get enough for one pie :) This year AGAIN there are hundreds. What should I do to ensure getting the most fruit. Prune back the flowers so there won’t be as much fruit. Although we are beyond that point. I thought maybe pick off some of the apples now to give the others room to grow. It water in the summer whenever it doesn’t rain (we’re in PA).
After ready your site on pruning I thought maybe it needs some of the smaller pruned.
Thanks for your help.

June 3, 2009 at 8:49 pm
(52) Ginger says:

I have 2 Granny Smith apple trees. I purchased them a little over a year ago. 1 is perfectly fine and I noticed the other one has 1 branch that shoots up from the trunk that has brown leaves. The tree is about 6 to 6 1/2 feet tall. The trunk v’s and the right side of the v is the part that has me worried. Should I just prune that part of the tree or do I need to do something else. Please help. Trees have not produced yet.

June 3, 2009 at 9:27 pm
(53) Ginger says:

In addition to the first comment… The branch on my apple tree has branches that come off of it and the leaves on them are all turning brown. The rest of the tree is green and has new leaves coming in. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

June 9, 2009 at 1:50 pm
(54) gardening says:

Clint, I don’t know of any insecticides for plum borers. But you should be able to scrap away the bark by the hole and actually find the borer. Use a tweezers and yank him out. Also, they tend to attack stressed trees, so next spring be sure your tree is well watered.

June 9, 2009 at 2:25 pm
(55) gardening says:

Joni, most fruit trees take a few years before they set a large crop. I just did a piece on “June Drop” which is a natural process where fruits trees drop a portion of their fruit set, once they’re sure they are going to have enough that grow to maturity and set seeds. I think your mother’s tree is just young and needs time to build its strength before maturing a large crop of apples.

But you’re right, once it starts holding onto most of its fruit, you’d be wise to thin out the excess, leaving about 5-8″ between fruits. This is done in the beginning of July, to produce larger, sweeter fruits and to lessen the weight on the tree.

June 9, 2009 at 2:30 pm
(56) gardening says:

Ginger, it sounds like it could be fire blight, a bacterial disease. Definitely cut out the browned branch. You should take it to your local Cooperative Extension for a diagnosis. They may recommend using a copper spray next spring, to prevent its recurrence.

June 17, 2009 at 10:58 pm
(57) Apple lover says:

I have an apple tree that must be 10 or 12 years old. When I bought the house, I did nothing in the garden for the first 2 years. The tree was leaning and had developed a bent trunk about 4 to 5 feet from the ground. It is growing horizontally. About a year ago, I tried pruning it. There is now about a six ft. vertical branch growing from the main bent trunk. Should I cut off the vertical branch? Should I cut down the entire tree and start over? How do I keep the branches on the bent trunk under control? They can’t grow much more because of space. I don’t mind the bent trunk.
Thanks for all responses.

June 26, 2009 at 1:04 pm
(58) Marie Iannotti says:

Apple lover, that’s an interesting predicament. Does the new branch that’s growing upward have any side branches? If t seems to be branching out, you could make it your new central leader and eventually get rid of the horizontal branch. If it’s just growing straight up with no lateral growth, it’s probably a sucker and can be removed.

If you wind up keeping the bent trunk, you might try removing the lower branches and letting the tree grow out to the sides and above the bent trunk. Keep an eye on the trunk in case it starts to sag under the weight of maturing fruit. You can always brace it from beneath.

July 12, 2009 at 1:35 am
(59) sherri says:

we have been pruning a apple tree, that had lots of blackberry bushes growing up it. now that we have got all of them cut at ground level, do we need to pull all of them out of the branches? this is very a over grown tree with hundreds of large and small branches, should we get rid of alot of the small ones? it hasn’t been taken care of will we kill it by triming to much?

July 16, 2009 at 7:33 pm
(60) clint says:

should you trim your trees every fall. i think i trim mine to much.i’m not getting any fruit or blossoms, i got smi dwarfs and i keep them trimmed to about 7 feet.

July 20, 2009 at 4:55 pm
(61) gardening says:

Clint, some pruning each year is good. Just don’t take away too much. Just make sure you’re pruning to buds and not just pruning for size.

July 27, 2009 at 4:40 am
(62) Dale Haines says:

Around may time my apple tree lost all the leaves on the tips of the branches for about 10 inches the tree is healthy and fruiting as has done in previous years. Any ideas?

July 29, 2009 at 3:20 pm
(63) Marie Iannotti says:

Sherri, get as many of the blackberry branches out of the apple tree as you can. They should start dieing off on their own and come out more easily. You want to get some sun and air into the apple tree branches.

You won’t hurt the apple by pruning it, but it would be wise to leave the renovation pruning until next winter and then follow up yearly until the tree is back in good shape.

July 29, 2009 at 3:25 pm
(64) Marie Iannotti says:

Dale, it’s hard to say without looking at the tree. If the problem didn’t go any further, I’d say some type of insect or animal was chewing. But it it’s progressing, you’ll need to look more closely at the tree. Scale, a type of sucking insect that looks like little bumps on the twigs, often starts at the tips.

If the leaves are starting to look dry all over the tree, it could be fire blight, a bacterial disease, could be the culprit. These can all be controlled, but you need to pinpoint what it is.

August 8, 2009 at 6:07 am
(65) Mark Jaggard says:

My 50 yr old apple tree has fallen over. I had noiticed it sagging with the weight of apples, but we had a load of rain and the soil couldnt cope and it has rolled in the ground. The shape was quite ornamental, and in a way i can imagine a great shape coming from the ‘new’ position, but it needs a major trim to give it a chance. what should i do?
it is full of nearly ready apples and we are pretty much in mid summer.

August 11, 2009 at 3:15 pm
(66) Marie Iannotti says:

Mark, can you support the tree so that it doesn’t fall any further? You don’t want all the roots disturbed or the top of the tree will start to die off. If you can somehow brace the tree until it has re-established itself, it should be fine.

You can do some pruning now, if necessary, but don’t wait too long. You don’t want a lot of new growth when a frost hits.

If it looks really questionable, you should consider calling in an arborist. They can work wonders.

August 18, 2009 at 8:50 pm
(67) clint says:

i wanted to try and start some peach trees by seed, anybody have any good suggestions. I tryed last year but none of them sprouted.

August 24, 2009 at 12:14 pm
(68) Neegle says:

I have to prune some very tall apple trees for production. I know they should be at least 10-15 ft shorter than they are. This would involve cutting branches/leaders that are 4-6 inches (at least)in diameter. I know I should wait until they are dormant. How will cutting branches this big affect the tree?

August 27, 2009 at 5:13 pm
(69) Marie Iannotti says:

Neegle, I don’t know what would happen if you tried to prune now, but if you can wait until they’re dormant, here’s a piece by Lee Reich that talks about just what you’re asking. He says, talk a deep breath and cut.

August 27, 2009 at 6:35 pm
(70) Marie Iannotti says:

Clint, I think since most peaches are grafted, some of the pits are viable. But that’s not to say they all aren’t. It can be done, but you won’t get the same quality fruit as the peach that you plant. (Of course, it could be even better.)

Here’s a short how-to from Colorado Extension.

November 5, 2009 at 3:58 pm
(71) Tara says:

I live in N. California and have a 17 year old apple tree that hasn’t been pruned in probably 15 years.
Some once-small bushes planted below the trees grew out of control (about 15 feet tall and 10 feet wide) underneath and up through the tree. I chopped off the bushes at the ground back in March, but didn’t attempt to remove the roots. The result is that the apple tree only has light growth in the center, but it has really long branches that hang to the ground all the way around the tree, and it’s probably 25 feet tall.
The apple tree produced a lot this year, but all of the fruit were wormy and small.
How should I handle pruning this, and do you have any idea why the fruit came out that way?

November 11, 2009 at 10:56 am
(72) Margie Gang says:

I have an apple tree that has many scab-like lesions on it in my yard in southern British Columbia. The tree has been there for about 10 years, maybe more, but it’s scrawny and not large.

The lesions are raised and rough-textured when they appear in spring, and by late season they open to reveal the heart-wood of the tree. When I first noticed this, I treated the tree with a sulfur dormant oil spray, and pruned off some of the affected wood. The lesions are still there, and spreading to the upper branches.

I wonder if I should destroy this tree before this disease spreads to other trees?

Thanks for your help.

Margie Gang

November 23, 2009 at 10:21 pm
(73) Jean says:

Last year, we bought a house in the Berkeley, CA hills with an apple tree. We had a small harvest of apples this year that ranged from very small to medium in size. The taste is good though they tend to be on the dry side. The tree needs pruning and since our winter is mostly rain (we hope!) with only occasional frost, the tree never completely went dormant last year. Should I still plan on pruning in late winter/early spring or would December/January probably be all right? Would watering the tree in summer help make the apples more moist? THANKS!

November 24, 2009 at 3:27 pm
(74) gardening says:

Jean, you should be fine pruning in Dec/Jan, even if the leaves don’t drop. They used to recommend stripping the leaves off of apple trees, to force dormancy, but luckily it sounds like you’ve got a variety that doesn’t require a long chill in order to set fruit.

The apples may have been small because there were too many of them. Fruit growers often thin the fruit on their trees so that the fruit that remains grows larger. Personally, I like a medium sized apple and having lots of them is just fine by me.

I suspect the dryness of the pulp is because of the variety and not a lack of water. Unless it is very dry during your summer, the tree shouldn’t need much supplemental watering.

December 5, 2009 at 12:43 am
(75) Teresa says:

Can you dig up a full grown apple tree and move it when you move?

December 5, 2009 at 1:43 pm
(76) Marie Iannotti says:

Teresa, you can move any tree, but you need to take a really big root ball and it’s going to be hard to dig and even harder to transport. Expect the tree to be in shock for awhile, but if you keep it well watered, it will adjust.

Honestly, I think you’d be better starting over. If it’s for sentimental reasons, maybe you could graft a piece of it on rootstock. You’d still have your tree, but it would be small enough to move and would transplant better.

Penn State has a nice booklet on grafting and you can find the supplies at a good nursery.

December 19, 2009 at 2:02 pm
(77) Marie Iannotti says:

Margie, I’m sorry I missed your comment until now. It sounds like your tree has some type of canker, but it’s very hard to diagnose without seeing it. A possibility is Nectria canker. There are some photos here. It enters the bark through any type of wound, a crack, insect damage… These folks recommend destroying the tree, but there’s more info in this Rutgers fact sheet.

January 6, 2010 at 2:58 am
(78) james kossick says:


i know that apple trees are to be pruned from dec to feb, but what if it is covered with snow or there is a continuing heavy frost?

can i still prune them?
will it damage the tree?

many thanks

January 6, 2010 at 12:46 pm
(79) Marie Iannotti says:

James, the trees are dormant, so the cold won’t hurt them. It might hurt you though. If you’re having a long, cold winter, you can wait for a sunny day when things are just starting to warm, to do your pruning.

January 21, 2010 at 11:55 am
(80) theresa says:

we just planted two apple trees last spring can i prune them or do i wait till they are bigger?

January 21, 2010 at 6:11 pm
(81) Marie Iannotti says:

Teresa, I’ll assume your trees are a couple of years old already and have a few branches. The first year, all you really need to do is decide which branch is the most straight up, and make that the central leader. All the other branches will come from that.

Then make a few judicious cuts, if necessary, to get rid of any crossing branches or any that aren’t growing somewhat horizontal. Keep the cuts to a minimum. You’re basically trying to train the shape of the tree, not reduce its size. Too many cuts will cause it to take more years before it starts setting fruit.

January 22, 2010 at 3:22 pm
(82) Apple Tree says:

I just wanted to add a quick caution about pruning any branch back to another branch or the main trunk: it is important to understand how the “wound wood” will form over the hole and not to cut into the collar of wood around the base of each branch that will produce this wood, or to leave a stubby bit of branch left that will prevent the wound wood from closing.

Don’t be worried by this: learn about it and all will be well. This article is a bit long but has all you could ever need to know.

January 23, 2010 at 7:46 am
(83) Patti says:

Would this also work on peach and necterine trees?

January 25, 2010 at 12:27 pm
(84) gardening says:

Patti, peaches and necterines are a little different. They’re pruned into an open vase shape with about 4 main truncks, rather than 1 central leader. The aim is to keep the center of the tree open and keep the size of the tree short.

Here are some simple to follow directions for new and mature peach tree pruning from Texas Extension.

January 31, 2010 at 8:49 am
(85) Matt says:

I have a two year old apple tree I purchased from a nursery. It has been in the ground for one year and is about 6-7 feet tall. I want to prune it now and I noticed that it has no central leader. There are two varieties grafted onto the rootstock, each having two side shoots, one variety just above the other. This results in four shoots with crotch angles about 45-60 degrees from the trunk. However, the nursery cut off the main trunk just above the top graft. Will this result in a weaker tree or can I just have an open center to the tree?

February 1, 2010 at 10:22 am
(86) Phil says:

We have two apple trees on our new property. This is our first winter here and there are still hundreds of apples on one of the trees. Do I need to remove the apples or will they drop off by themselves?

February 4, 2010 at 2:40 pm
(87) B.A. says:

Moved into a house last year with one 20-year-old Gala apple tree in back. Bumper crop! – but much of the fruit were on vertical central branches which I couldn’t reach even with a ladder. Would pruning the vertical branches encourage more horizontal growth, or would they just produce suckers that grow vertical again? Thanks a lot.

February 5, 2010 at 1:47 pm
(88) gardening says:

Phil, they’ll probably fall off by themselves or be eaten, but it’s a good idea to take off all that you can. They weigh down the branches in winter and can result in damage in high winds or after an ice storm.

February 5, 2010 at 1:53 pm
(89) gardening says:

Matt, there’s really no way to have one central leader with a multi-grafted tree. Just treat each grafted limb as if it were a regular branch and try to keep them all about the same size, or one variety will start to dominate.

February 5, 2010 at 1:59 pm
(90) gardening says:

B.A., if there are other non-vertical branches along the limb, it’s fine to cut off the vertical. If the vertical branch is the only one, try using a spreader or weight to coax downward, so that some sun can get into the tree.

February 8, 2010 at 9:31 am
(91) linda says:

my neighbour has pruned my apple tree but i think she has done it too much as for the last two years it hasn’t flowered

February 10, 2010 at 9:37 am
(92) Marie Iannotti says:

Linda, it could be that she’s pruning in too far. It could also be weather related. If you get a frost as the buds are opening, it will kill them.

Can you ask her to lighten her touch this year and see if that helps?

February 16, 2010 at 7:12 am
(93) sheena says:

Hi, i have just moved in to a house that has 2 very mature apple trees in the garden. The trees have both been split at the trunk and shaped many years ago. the problem i have is one of the main branches on one of the trees is completely hollow and some of the bark has been stripped off. this branch has new growth on it and is still supporting growth that is a few years old. do you have any ideas on what could have caused this and what i can do as i don’t want to loose the tree.

February 16, 2010 at 12:42 pm
(94) Marie Iannotti says:

Sheena, I’m not sure what you mean by “split at the trunk”? Does it look like half the tree was grafted onto the other half of the tree? That was a popular technique for awhile.

Hollow branches are usually the result of a disease that rotted away the inside of the branch. If it’s been like that for quite awhile, the original problem is probably not going to spread any further. But the peeling bark implies that the branch is dying and it’s going to attract more problems to the tree. Is there any way to cut just that limb and leave the rest of the tree in tact?

March 5, 2010 at 9:10 pm
(95) Mia says:

Hi Marie,
I planted two apple trees last spring. One tree (Wealthy apple) came as a whip and has grown a 60 degree angle branch that is a few inches long. There is also a good leader. Do I need to prune these at all?

The other tree (Liberty apple) came with several LONG branches that already had their own stems at the very end. (The branches look like arms with hands and fingers!) There are 6 “arms” in the same section of the trunk, but they all look pretty good. There are also two potential leaders right now. How much should I prune at this point? Is it ok to cut off the “hands” from the ends of the branches, or should I just trim the “fingers”? :) hehe! It looks like they might cause the branch to break some day since they’re SO far away from the trunk.

March 8, 2010 at 12:50 pm
(96) gardening says:

The branch on the Wealthy apple can be pruned slightly, by 1/4 to 1/3 of its length. You might also want to try taking a knife and making a notch above each bud on the bare side of the leader, to stimulate branch development. Do this in early April. They won’t all sprout, but as they do, decide which you want to keep and rub off the rest.

On the Liberty tree, you should choose 1 leader and remove the other one. Remove any branches that are at a 45 degree angle from the tree or less. Those with wide angles can be cut back by 1/3. Cut just above an outward facing bud, to produce a side that grows away from the leader.

April 1, 2010 at 2:08 pm
(97) Stacy says:

I have an apple tree that grew from about a 70 to 100 year old tree that died. This tree has been neglected and has alot of dead growth to include the center limb being totally broken out somehow. I have no clue what kind it is. It starts off green and sour then turns an off yellow with gray spots that is sour but somewhat sweet. Made great apple pies and apple butter when I was little. I am trying to save it and also grow cutting I had to take from a broken branch. The ground in the area of Mississippi where it is is basically rotten at the moment due to rain. I have put the cuttings in Spagnum and sand mixture in the hills north of Mobile, AL. No perlite due to such sandy environment. I have a tree here that has about four limbs left and flowering after Katrina and a small tree I think is the same. How do I take some of those limbs and graph to the smaller tree and maintain the uniqueness of the original. Lot of questions in one I know. Guess I need to cut back the longest top branches also so they don’t bend over and break if it actually makes fruit this year.

April 9, 2010 at 3:06 pm
(98) Pam Bacon says:

Hi, about 8 yrs ago I purchased a Granny Smith apple tree and a Golden Delicious tree. Both were the same size when I purchased them(2 or 3 yrs old). Now, the Granny Smith is looking great, loaded with blossoms, about 12-15 ft tall, nice round shape. The Golden Delicious on the other hand is less than half the size of the other and no blooms at all. It received slightly less sun light so we cut down the tree casting the shade thinking that would help but it hasn’t seemed to. The Golden Delicious has a double trunk, is that the problem? If so, what can I do about it?
My second problem is squirrels! Last yr we had our first decent size crop on the Granny Smith. Then in a matter of 3 days the tree was completely stripped of all its apples. At first we thought it was deer, they get the lower branches each yr anyway, but then the top of the tree lost all its apples too. I discovered it was squirrels when I was looking out my window and saw one pick up an apple, take a couple hops and then set it down and it kept repeating that routine until it had it well away from the orchard. Once the apples were gone they moved on to my garden and stripped my tomatoes as well! Any suggestions?

April 11, 2010 at 8:45 pm
(99) Barbara says:

I bought 6 fruit trees this spring from a big box store. They were potted, flowering, and some have tiny fruits on them.

On YouTube a nurseryman said to cut the top off bareroot fruit trees to about knee height to keep the limbs low as they grow and will be managable size for harvesting and maintainance.

What I want to know is if I should do this with a live, growing tree? Should I allow the trees to go ahead and grow this summer, and wait til winter to cut them down to knee height, OR…will it kill the tree either way?

April 12, 2010 at 2:26 pm
(100) Marie Iannotti says:

Stacy, grafting would be the way to go, however I’m not very experienced with the different processes. I’m not that patient. I like this grafting How-to from Minn. Extension. It sounds like you might want to look at the side graft instructions.

April 12, 2010 at 2:37 pm
(101) Marie Iannotti says:

Pam, some varieties of apples can take longer to begin setting fruit. However Golden Delicious needs a fairly long period of winter chilling and your climate may not be providing that. Another problem could be that it’s blooming late and not getting pollinated. If it sets a few small fruits that drop before maturing, pollination is a likely culprit. You might have to get out there with a small paint brush and move the pollen around yourself.

As for squirrels, they can be pretty determined. A combination of deterrents is your best bet. Some folks tie aluminum pie tins or old CDs from the branches. The flashing scares them. I’ve heard of using tanglefoot, a sticky solution you paint on branches to catch caterpillars. The squirrels don’t like to walk on it. And some folks hang netted bags of moth balls from the branches. A barking dog is always effective.

April 12, 2010 at 2:40 pm
(102) Marie Iannotti says:

Barbara, it’s usually 1 year old whips that are cut back to about 3-feet. These look like sticks and cutting encourages branching.

Potted trees are often already pruned. Check the labels to see if they mention that no pruning needs to be done this year. If they’re already branching, your focus should be on keeping the central leader growing upward and removing dead, crossing or spindly growth. Then do regular maintenance pruning each year.

April 12, 2010 at 8:57 pm
(103) Kevin says:

My landlord just had me prune my apple tree that hasn’t been pruned for about 5-7 years. It is just starting to bud. Needless to say I cut off a lot! The tree is well over a decade old. Will it be OK? It produced tons fabulous fruit last year, what can I expect this year.
Please don’t tell me it is at risk because if the late pruning.

April 18, 2010 at 6:01 pm
(104) Melime says:

I have an orchard with around 7 apple trees, 2 apricot, 2 pear, and 2 plum also some pear-apples. Many of the apple trees have a couple varieties of apple on them (one type grafted onto another) and all of the trees are different. Do I follow the same guidelines for pruning these but with 2 main stems (one of each type?)

Also the orchard is in serious need of some TLC. The fruit from these trees has been left on the ground so there are many many small trees (aprox 4 years old, 4-10 feet high) taking things over. I’ve also been told that these are suckers? How do I go about cleaning this up? We have dug a few up for friends in the past and for the most part they have been successfully transplanted but I worry that the remaining trees will start to overtake the established ones. I’ve also got a few trees that have gotten broken over the years really close to the base, but have new trees growing from the broken parts (one is almost horizontal) Do I just cut my losses and get rid of it?
What affect will moles (pocket gophers) and ants have on my orchard?
Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated as it’s been let go for at least 4 years if not more, and I miss being able to walk through my orchard in the spring. (I’ve lived here for 15 years) I really want to bring it back to what it was in my childhood.

May 7, 2010 at 9:44 am
(105) Jenn says:

I purchased a honey crisp and granny smith about a month ago. The honey crisp is flourishing with new leaves every time I look at it. The granny smith (which arrived looking like the healthier of the two, by far) is not producing ANY leaves. The branches still look and feel healthy to me. Any ideas? Should I worry? Anything I can do to encourage leafing? (One more piece of info – about two weeks ago the tree seemed to semi-covered in a green/ yellow powder. I assumed it was just pollen (abundant in VA right now) and washed it away. Could it have been a sign of disease?)

May 24, 2010 at 11:13 am
(106) Marie Iannotti says:

Kevin, sorry I’m late to your post. It’s hard to prune too much from a healthy tree, so I’m going to suspect that it has leafed out nicely for you by now. I wouldn’t expect too much fruit the first year, while it recovers.

May 24, 2010 at 11:21 am
(107) Marie Iannotti says:

Melime, prune each section of your multi-graft trees as if they were individual trees. Just try to keep some open airy structure in the center.

Your best bet with all the suckers is probably to cut them down to the soil level. If you can get rid of all the thick brush, you can then keep the area mowed. Eventually they will give up trying to grow.

The new trees growing from the base are probably growing from the root stock, which is a different variety than the fruiting top of the tree. If you like the fruits they’re producing, you can slowly straighten the stem to point upward. But I wouldn’t leave it so close to the ground.

May 24, 2010 at 11:22 am
(108) Marie Iannotti says:

Jenn, I hope your tree has leafed out by now. Some varieties are just later than others.

I don’t know of any powdery disease that affects apple trees. If it washed right off, it was probably pollen, just as you thought.

May 29, 2010 at 3:32 am
(109) Laraine Santagato says:

I planted a Gala tree 2 years ago. The first year a few blossoms, this past spring it was loaded with blossoms, I thought I might actually have some fruit this year, alas the blossoms wilted and the tree so far HAS NOT leafed out. I cannot see anything wrong with it, I have to assume the tree is dead or dying. Should I pull it out ? its about 8 to 10 feet tall. I am at a loss as to what is wrong with it. I have a cox’s pipin apple across the other side of the yard, its in its 3rd year and actually has 2 apples on it. I am now concerned that whatever has attacked or killed the Gala will kill the cox”s pipin. Any suggestions? anyone?

June 6, 2011 at 2:39 am
(110) John Arant says:

I lost a 2-year old apple tree a few years ago to voles. Moles had burrowed underground around the base of the tree, voles had moved in and eaten the bark from the roots, killing the tree. Do you see signs of burrowing underground under your tree?

June 2, 2010 at 2:44 pm
(111) mike brade says:

i have an older apple tree. is was pruned back early this spring. my question is, now it seams a lot of the apples have been falling off. what would be my problem. hope you can help. i don,t want to cut the tree down if i can help it, thanks

June 2, 2010 at 6:17 pm
(112) gardening says:

Mike, there’s a phenomenon called June Drop. Many fruit trees set more fruit than they can handle, just in case something happens. Once they feel secure that the fruits will mature, they allow a portion of their young fruits to fall off. It’s disappointing to us, but it actually means the remaining fruits will be larger.

June 3, 2010 at 8:28 pm
(113) chris says:

i moved into our house 4 years ago i’m in ma. i have 2 macintosh apple trees they look young they have not produced any apples yet what can i do?

June 7, 2010 at 12:54 pm
(114) Marie Iannotti says:

Chris, 2 years is young. Just keep shaping them in the early spring, give them plenty of water and be patient. It can take 3-5 years before they’re ready to bear fruit.

June 7, 2010 at 1:35 pm
(115) Marie Iannotti says:

Laraine, it doesn’t sound hopeful for your Gala tree. I can’t really diagnose problems from descriptions. There are so many things that can go wrong with apples. I’d suggest you take a sample twig down to your local Cooperative Extension office or to a good nursery and ask if they can discern the problem.

June 14, 2010 at 10:49 am
(116) Shelley says:

We moved into our 40 year old house 2 years ago. There were several established trees and a grape vine. One of the trees is an apple tree. August of 08 there was one small green apple on it. My contractor ate it and said it was a little tart. We trimmed back some of the branches and my arbourist said to slowly pruin back from the top to encourage growth more outward instead of upward. Last year (09) there were about a dozen apples on it but the squirels and birds got every one of them and they never got very big or changed color. We decided that it wasn’t getting enough light so we took out a few branches from a VERY large tree that shades it. Now I have almost 3 dozen apples and they appear to be doing well. I just trimmed a few more small branches that had no fruit on them and we will probably take out a few more branches from the tree that is shading it. We may have solved the squirel problem by encouraging them to feast at the other side of the yard (so far, so good). I have two questions. How can I determine what variety of apple this is? and Should I be watering it daily, every other day, weekly or not at all?

June 14, 2010 at 3:54 pm
(117) Janette says:

Hi there, last year we were given 2 apple trees as a gift, Goodland and Harcourt; planted following intructions to the letter, staked them (we’re in central Alberta, very windy) and put that white plastic around the trunks to discourage mice & cats & other pests. We had a very dry spring and the Harcourt looked like it was about to bud and then stopped. We have watered like crazy but nothing is happening. It looks like everything on the braches just dried up. Is there any hope for it? We did get a warranty with it, should I just dig it up and take it back to the nursery? The Goodland has leafed out and has some flowers on it, but the tips of all of the branches are dried and dead-looking. Should I trim those in the fall or leave it be and see what happens next year?

thanks for all of your advice, I’ve gleaned so much from all of your previous responses to peoples’ questions!


June 18, 2010 at 8:43 am
(118) gardening says:

Shelly, that’s a good question. I don’t know how to determine the variety, except by eating it and comparing it to other apples. You could take note of when it blooms and any physical characteristics, but I think you’d still have to compare. Anyone else know?

As far as watering, an established tree needs only about 1-2″ of water per week. It may get that from rain, but be attentive during really warm and dryseasons.

June 18, 2010 at 8:46 am
(119) gardening says:

Janette, young trees can dry out quickly, especially when they’re in bloom. However there are a lot of diseases that can cause the same symptoms. What I’d suggest is, before taking the whole tree back, take a branch of each tree into the nursery where you purchased them and asking if they see something you can correct. If you don’t feel they’ve been helpful, take the branches to your local Extension office.

June 22, 2010 at 8:33 pm
(120) Gary says:

I just bought 3 young apple trees. One red delicious and two granny smith. All are semi-dwarf, spaced 13 feet apart. They are all 6 feet tall with many leader branches about 20″ inches above the ground. Most of the branches are very long, 4 to 5 feet and curl upward, not far from the leader. There is vigorous leaf growth at the end of the branches and the bottom half of the branches are bare with no leaves. No flowers or fruit. I was upset that these branches were not pruned back like a pyramid in late winter sometime in early march here in Rochester, NY to shape the trees. The base leaders are way too long now and splitting into new branches at the end. What I wanted to know is, can I prune off about half of the leader branches CURRENTLY at the base which are about 7 in total? They are too crowded together. Or wait till next late winter to prune some of them off? It seems all that splitting into new branches at the end will have to be pruned back to shorten the length of the leader branches and this new growth will be wasted this year. Or could I prune back the length of the leader branches 1/3rd currently at an outward bud? There are a second set of lateral branches just below the leader which are much shorter, but no branches in between which is strange. Are they one or two year old trees at this 6 foot height? Please tell me the age of the trees and what pruning I should currently do if any? Perhaps a cut off of a branch every week so the young trees won’t go into shock? Thank you for your help!

June 22, 2010 at 8:43 pm
(121) Gary says:

Oh, I meant to say base branches, not base leaders. There is only one leader at the top.

June 23, 2010 at 11:14 pm
(122) sally says:

I have a four year old apple that I need to prune to remove cross branches. Is it too late to take out the branches?…no fruit on it now, and it’s growing nicely.

June 25, 2010 at 7:11 am
(123) gardening says:

Sally, you can prune out problem branches any time. It won’t hurt the tree.

July 2, 2010 at 3:31 pm
(124) gardening says:

Gary, excessive pruning while the tree is growing uses up its energy reserves and inhibits more growth. Pruning in the summer should be limited to a little thinning and removal of broken or crossed branches. For the amount of work you want to do, I’d be patient and wait for next winter.

July 5, 2010 at 3:23 am
(125) hermes handbags says:

I planted a Gala tree 2 years ago. The first year a few blossoms, this past spring it was loaded with blossoms, I thought I might actually have some fruit this year, alas the blossoms wilted and the tree so far HAS NOT leafed out. I cannot see anything wrong with it, I have to assume the tree is dead or dying. Should I pull it out ? its about 8 to 10 feet tall. I am at a loss as to what is wrong with it. I have a coxís pipin apple across the other side of the yard, its in its 3rd year and actually has 2 apples on it. I am now concerned that whatever has attacked or killed the Gala will kill the coxĒs pipin. Any suggestions? anyone?

July 6, 2010 at 2:31 pm
(126) gardening says:

hermes handbag, it’s hard to say what happened to your tree, without seeing it. Since it started to flower, I’m wondering is something attacked the roots. If you can poke around down there and check on them, it might give you some clue.

July 10, 2010 at 6:35 pm
(127) Chris says:

I’ve got an apple tree that’s probably around 30′ tall, and is extremely prolific – 6,000 to 7,000 apples every summer. We love the tree very much (in fact, it’s one of the reasons we bought the house), but I’d really like to thin it, and I have a couple of questions I’d like to ask.

First, is it correct to assume that if a branch bears fruit, that it’s not dead? The reason I’m asking this question is because I’d like to thin the tree out pretty extensively, but at this time of year I’m wondering how problematic that could be if the branches I’m looking to prune are in fact good, healthy ones.

Second, as I say, I’d like to thin it out pretty extensively, and that would mean pruning out some branches that are fairly thick. Understanding that I shouldn’t prune more than 1/3 of the branches at one time anyway, am I okay to prune thicker branches so long as I only select branches that aren’t coming directly off of the leader?


July 10, 2010 at 6:36 pm
(128) Chris says:

Sorry about the italics – forgot to put in the closing tag :(

July 10, 2010 at 6:50 pm
(129) Chris says:

One more question I should have thought to ask. How risky is it to consider doing the extensive pruning at this time of year? The tree is quite healthy, and, as I said extremely (hope the closing tags work) prolific, so I’m thinking it’s pretty hardy.

There’s also the statement in the article that says, “…keep telling yourself that it’s very hard to kill an apple tree by pruning it…” so there’s a part of me that thinks given its health, it might be okay to do this now. But the article also says to (emphasis added), “[G]et out there in the next couple of months and hack away while your tree is still dormant…” so there’s a part of me that thinks, nope, I’m going to have to wait until next year. Can someone tell me which part of me is right?


July 14, 2010 at 3:50 pm
(130) Marie Iannotti says:

Chris, I’d give you the same advice I gave Gary, above – Iíd be patient and wait for next winter.

Right now, your tree is focused on ripening fruits, actively growing and withstanding the weather. Excessive pruning while the tree is growing uses up its energy reserves and inhibits more growth. It shouldn’t kill the tree, but it will weaken it. Unless absolutely essential, summer pruning should be limited to a little thinning and removal of broken or crossed branches.

July 22, 2010 at 12:11 am
(131) Chris says:

Marie, thanks very much. I’ll do that – and just accept the fact that it’s another year of picking 6,000 to 7,000 apples up off the ground ;)

August 18, 2010 at 8:43 pm
(132) Amanda says:

I have 2 Thunder Child apple trees that have just lost their leaves . We live in Alberta and the night time temperature is about 10 C. So they should not be losing their leaves. They have received enough water during the season. Would you know possibly what has happened to them?

August 20, 2010 at 4:10 am
(133) Marie Iannotti says:

Amanda, if you’re sure it wasn’t drought stress, then it must have been some type of disease. I couldn’t say without seeing them. Did you notice any problems, before they dropped?

August 22, 2010 at 5:08 pm
(134) Dave says:

I have a question…
We have a honey crisp apple tree that we thought was deader then a doornail. We were planning on digging it out and starting a new one. However we just noticed that there is one new branch growing 6 inches from the soil. If you even tough the top end of the tree it is brittle and snaps off. Is there a way to keep the tree or is it a total loss? I heard that if you take a knife and scrape the dead looking branches untill you see green and cut off the dead, this will save it. With the one branch so low to the ground I think it will be a terrible looking tree with one branch and grow oddly with no main trunk left. Any suggestions would be great.

August 25, 2010 at 10:34 am
(135) Mary says:

We moved to house with 20-year old apple trees. Last fall we pruned them back. They blossomed well in the spring and apples began growing. The apples stopped growing bigger at the end of May. Some of them dropped in June, but most of them are still on the tree turning a bright red. The previous owner said she had sometimes made pie from the apples, but these apples are only the size of big grapes. What can we do to get full size apples?

August 29, 2010 at 9:39 am
(136) kathy says:


September 1, 2010 at 4:52 am
(137) gardening says:

Dave, the branch sounds like it is probably a sucker coming from the root stock. It won’t produce the same apples the original top of the tree would have. I would replace it.

September 1, 2010 at 4:57 am
(138) gardening says:

Mary, many fruit trees drop some of their fruits in June. They set a lot of buds and then determine how many they can support, thinning out the others. Since the trees have been growing well, I would assume one of 3 things caused the small apples:

1- Not enough water while they were filling out.
2- The tree is resting, after being pruned.
3- There were still too many apples for the tree to support.

And sometimes trees simply have off years. After expending a huge amount of energy with a pumper crop one year, they like to slack off and take it easy the next.

September 1, 2010 at 4:58 am
(139) gardening says:

Kathy, the Lodi may just need more time to adjust. Don’t trim it now. Wait until early next spring, when it is still dormant.

September 9, 2010 at 8:58 pm
(140) Nicole says:

OK, now that I’ve read a lot of the comments and advice on pruning apple trees I have a confession to make. After picking our crab apples (very large ones, not sure yet what kind) off of our 2 beautiful apple trees we did some major pruning. The trees were getting way too high to pick from so we sawed off some of the big branches on top. The trees are still big but something needed to be done. Living in Saskatchewan fall is starting but I don’t know how much longer the trees would be still active. Is there anything I can do to make sure my trees will be OK?

October 5, 2010 at 1:55 am
(141) david says:


I have a small mature (50 years) orchard in Wiltshire. Some of the trees are big and have been neglected, although they fruit reasonably well. My question is one of the trees has a serious infection in the bark, something is stripping off the bark, and the huge tree is dying, its as if a wood borer is attacking it as the tree looks healthy up to about 6 feet, I have tried cutting off the main limbs of the branches to try and save it but it still seems to be moving down the tree, should I cut further down and burn the damaged remains which will ruin the shape or should I try some sort of chemical injection or use a specialist contractor ? thanks :-)

October 5, 2010 at 12:31 pm
(142) Marie Iannotti says:

David, there are several things that can cause problems with the bark of apple trees; some are diseases and others are insects. I can’t really diagnose the problem online. I would recommend you either bring a piece of the limb you have cut off and some of the bark to your local Cooperative Extension office or a reputable nursery and ask if they recognize the problem, or call an arborist. It could be something within the tree and it would just keep spreading until you’ve identified it.

October 5, 2010 at 8:05 pm
(143) c saltmer says:

i have a four year old apple tree and the new leaf tips wither and die this has happend last year and this year but the apple crop has been good is there any way to stop this happening and is it harming the tree

October 6, 2010 at 10:54 am
(144) Marie Iannotti says:

c saltmer, assuming your tree is getting enough water, it sounds like some kind of fungus. It’s very hard to diagnose, without seeing the problem, so as always I would sugest taking a small sample to your local Cooperative Extension or a good nursery.

One thing that comes to mind is fire blight. That’s a fungal disease that over winters on splits in the bark and on infected tips. Its severity is dependent on the weather. You will usually also see problems on the bark.

October 12, 2010 at 4:48 pm
(145) gardening says:

Nicole, somehow your question slipped past me. There’s really nothing more you can do now, but I think your trees should be fine. There maybe a little dieback at the tips, but there shouldn’t be much new growth at this time of year. The trees were probably on their way to dormancy already.

November 12, 2010 at 2:50 pm
(146) Sylvie Baigent says:

A neighbouring apple tree, very much neglected and with a sticky patches on the base is causing a problem on our side or the fence. The branches are very low and in the summertime stop the sun reaching our own fruit and herb plants. What is the best time to prune or cut back this tree? Your help would be very much appreciated.

November 12, 2010 at 3:23 pm
(147) Marie Iannotti says:

Sylvie, the best time to do any apple pruning is in late winter through early spring, while the tree is still dormant. If you can’t get to it, because of snow or cold weather, do it as early in the spring as you can. Some pruning would probably help the tree, as well as helping your own garden.

November 29, 2010 at 5:42 pm
(148) Electroman says:

Hi everyone i’m new to apple tree. I bought a house near ottawa in canada and i know that pruning time is comming at the end of winter. The apple tree is very old maybe 40 50 year old, he is about 30 35 feet tall and he is gone wild over time a need to be prunned. I’d like to have some advice to know where i should start because there is a lot of dead wood and a lot of sucker in the tree and the majority of apple that did grow was on the top portion of the tree and are completely impossible to reach so i’d like to reduce the height of the tree but there is so much branch in the tree and i dont know where to start????

Here is a link with some picture of the tree so some help would be very appreciated Thank’s a lot


November 30, 2010 at 10:33 am
(149) gardening says:

Electroman, did you take a look at the link, above, Pruning overgrown trees? Your instincts are on the mark, you start by pruning out the dead wood and suckers. You basically want to open the inside of the tree to light and get rid of the oldest wood (it makes a nice fire). Take a look at the step-by-step and then just go for it. It’s hard to make the first cut, but once you get going and see how much better the tree looks, you’ll be encouraged. And once the apples start coming…

January 31, 2011 at 3:21 pm
(150) gardening says:

Laurie, don’t be too hard on him. At least it’s the right time of year.

Apple trees handle hard pruning quite well, so I think they’ll probably revive sooner than you think. It might just be what they needed to keep them going another 30 years.

February 23, 2011 at 4:22 pm
(151) Mike C says:

My apple tree’s branches are bent over because of last years apples. They appear to be permanently bent. Should I leave them as they are or prune them back?

February 23, 2011 at 5:28 pm
(152) gardening says:

Mike C, I wouldn’t prune them just because they are bent. Hopefully the bending opened up the center of the tree – a good thing. If some of the branches are crossing or touching the ground, they can be pruned. Otherwise just follow regular pruning advise.

March 24, 2011 at 9:51 pm
(153) LuckyPatty says:

I have a dwarf Gala apple tree that is almost 2 years old. It has never bloomed despite getting fertilized each spring. What am I doing wrong?

March 31, 2011 at 12:23 pm
(154) Marie Iannotti says:

LuckyPatty, it can take 2–5 years before most apple trees start blooming and maybe longer before they start producing fruit. Give it some time to gain strength. Be patient and make sure your tree is not getting hit by a late spring frost. The buds can freeze before they get a chance to open.

April 4, 2011 at 2:13 pm
(155) Rachel says:

I started my apple trees from seed and they all died but some trees grew up from the roots. Will they still bear fruit like the original trees?

April 5, 2011 at 6:26 pm
(156) gardening says:

Rachel, that all depends on what type of apples you got the seed from. If they were hybrids, like Granny Smith, it’s not likely you are going to get the same thing. But if it’s an old open pollinated variety, you should. What type are you growing?

April 5, 2011 at 2:20 pm
(157) Mark says:

I pruned back my mature apple tree in March back to the main branches and left only the frame, no twigs on the branches. Will it shoot new twigs, branches and fruit this season?

April 7, 2011 at 2:59 pm
(158) gardening says:

Mark, by twigs do you mean the spurs, those short, crooked shoots? If you removed all of them, you probably won’t get any apples until next year. Apples fruit on wood that is at least 1 year old. You only want to trim back the spurs once the tree has been producing awhile and you need to thin out the crop set, so the tree can support and feed them all. Even then, you should just trim the older parts of the spurs, leaving 2–3 joints on each spur.

May 23, 2011 at 9:41 pm
(159) Dustin says:

We have a haralson and honeycrisp apple tree that we planted last year. The honeycrisp is full of leave this year, but the haralson has none at all, both trees are about 6 feet tall. The haralson’s stock two feet up from the graft point is green but that’s about it. Is there any hope for the haralson.

June 8, 2011 at 5:24 pm
(160) gardening says:

Sorry, Dustin, somehow I missed your post. It doesn’t sound good for your haralson. Was it ailing last year? If you prune one of the smaller branches, do you see any green wood?

June 4, 2011 at 12:16 am
(161) NATALIE says:

I planted a 5-n-1 tree this may and it had blooms on it. A month later, it now has 3 apples on it. Do i let it store its energy and take them off or leave them alone.

June 4, 2011 at 6:24 am
(162) Marie Iannotti says:

Natalie, 3 fruits shouldn’t strain it too much. They may fall off on their own, but let the tree decide. You might just luck out and get your first apple.

July 31, 2011 at 5:14 pm
(163) rob b says:

Mary – I planted two dwarf apple trees two years ago; while they appear very healthy, neither tree has yielded any fruit despite several buds on each this past spring. The trees receive sufficient water and sun, so I’m not sure what is going on. Any ideas please? thanks, rob

August 19, 2011 at 2:10 pm
(164) Taline says:

We planted a semi-dwarf granny smith 20+ years ago which beared fruit for several years. Four years ago, our house underwent a remodel, and since then, the tree hasn’t bee the same. No blossoms. Fungus on the leaves. And major watersprouts at the base. Also, now, I’m noticing that the bark is cracked and peeling. I did a major pruning (which I have since heard is bad for it) two years ago.

I’ve been told to give up — the tree is too old. I remember the dozens of apples we enjoyed about 10 years ago (its “peak.”)


December 7, 2011 at 11:31 am
(165) Andy says:

My apples have always suffered from worms. The variety is Yellow Delicious. So this year I did a major pruning, hoping this will reduce the worm problem. Is it true that pruning can help reduce apple worms?

December 7, 2011 at 1:39 pm
(166) gardening says:

Pruning will improve yield and air circulation, but I’ve never heard of pruning as a deterrent to apple maggots or codling moth larvae, the 2 most common worm problems. They over-winter in the ground and probably aren’t in the tree at pruning time.

Checking your apples as they grow and removing any with holes, will help reduce the population. There are a couple of traps available for the adult flies. One is a pheromone trap and the other is a sticky red ball that’s meant to look like an apple decoy. And I think spinosad, a biological insecticide, is labeled for use on apples.

April 19, 2012 at 12:59 am
(167) Amber says:

If you are still answering questions, we bought a 30 yr old house, did nothing to the apple tree the first year it had beauitful huge apples. Second year it was horrible and wormy. We pruned spring of third year and only half the tree blossomed still with horrible apples, now this year the other half is blooming. Why is only have the free in blossom at a time? What can we do to insure better apples?

April 22, 2012 at 7:47 pm
(168) Sally says:

Good morning,
We had a tradie come around this morning to put in a new fence. He took it upon himself to take our apple tree back to a stump :( Will it be able to recover from this harsh pruning?

April 23, 2012 at 2:03 pm
(169) gardening says:

Amber, I really don’t know why only 1/ 2 the tree bloomed at one time. My only guesses would be that either one side was over-pruned or that it was exposed to a late frost. I haven’t heard of that happening before.

Wormy apples are not uncommon. The worms are actually moth larvae and the 2 most common are coddling moths and apple maggot. Once they find your apple tree, the populations tend to increase and they do more and more damage each year. An all purpose fruit tree spray will lower their numbers. They can be hard to control organically, but here are 2 fact sheets with some suggestions – like covering the apples with bags, so the moths can’t lay their eggs.
apple maggot control coddling moth control

April 23, 2012 at 2:06 pm
(170) gardening says:

Oh dear Sally, that’s harsh pruning. Since apple trees are grafted, what regrows will probably come from the root stock, not from the old tree trunk. So it won’t be the same type of tree you had. You would probably be better off starting over (and keeping close tabs on guys who come into your yard with a chain saw). Sorry.

May 5, 2012 at 11:05 am
(171) gail says:

I’d love to grow apple trees, however, the open area on our land is clay! Heavy clay! Would any fruit trees survive in this environment?

May 7, 2012 at 6:39 am
(172) gardening says:

Gail, if it’s really heavy clay, it might be a struggle. Clay tends to be alkaline, which complicates getting nutrients from the soil, to the tree. I think your best bets would be citrus, if it’s warm enough in your area, or stone fruits, like peaches and apricots. They are usually somewhat shallow rooted.

Or you could try growing them in large containers. The dwarf and columnar varieties grow well in containers.

May 16, 2012 at 10:22 am
(173) chris says:

our 100 year old wolf river apple tree was attacked by woodpeckers this winter. There is severe damage all down the main trunk .It is completely exposed.HELP

May 23, 2012 at 12:27 am
(174) Joyce says:

I have a Macintosh Apple that I planted last year bare root. It has not yet broken dormancy. All of my other fruit trees are doing great. I think I remember it coming around a little late last year as well. When I peel a small amount of the bark back, it is green and alive. The nursery suggested I fertalize, so I did. It is getting water. Any other ideas?

May 23, 2012 at 6:58 am
(175) gardening says:

Joyce, that’s a tough one, without seeing it. The green is a good sign. Scratch one of the buds and see if they are tender, too. Some trees are later than others and sometimes it’s a matter of weather – a late frost or a winter that didn’t get cold enough. But it is getting late in the season. I’d ask friends, or call the Cooperative Extension office and ask if anyone else’s trees are in a similar state. If so, it’s probably the weather.

Then I’d look for signs of problems – roots in damp soil, signs of rot, girdled trunk… You could also take a small branch to Cooperative Extension and have them look at it.

June 2, 2012 at 10:48 am
(176) Darleen K says:

We have 2 semi dwarf apples trees about 4 years old. My husband pruned them last winter. They were doing fine and blossoming, then we had a late hard freeze. All the branches where they were blooming died back, but now the branches keep dying back. The trees get new leaves and then they die. Any suggestions of what is wrong>

June 4, 2012 at 8:55 pm
(177) Laraine says:

We planted 3 combo semi-dwarf trees (apple, pear, and cherry) we got from Costco this spring.
They’re doing fine, but I just noticed the grafted branches are at very narrow angles.
Since the grafts are probably fairly new, when and how should we start training them to grow at a wider angle?

June 7, 2012 at 5:59 pm
(178) Marko Palikko says:

We just purchased a severely neglected turn of the century 1800′s apple orchard. All the (26) trees have healthy leaves, some broken branches,etc. The property has been left unattended for the last 30 years. Is there any chance of bringing these beauties back to producing apples?



June 8, 2012 at 5:59 am
(179) Marie Iannotti says:

Darlene, it sounds like something else is bothering your tree. Check for signs of insects or disease, like spots on the leaves or holes on the leaves or bark. If you don’t see anything obvious, take a sample branch to your Cooperative Extension or a good nursery and let them have a look.

June 8, 2012 at 6:01 am
(180) Marie Iannotti says:

Laraine, start training it now, while the branches are still limber. Do it gradually, with spacers or very, very light weights, so the branches don’t snap.

June 8, 2012 at 6:08 am
(181) Marie Iannotti says:

Marko, it’s hard to say, without seeing them. I would suspect some can be saved, but even apple trees don’t live forever. Trees with die back are susceptible to all kinds of problems.

If you want to try and save them, you might want to consider calling in a professional to look them over and give you some guidance. beyond just trimming them. Check with an arborist, or maybe Cooperative Extension could give you the name of a fruit specialist.

July 7, 2012 at 1:52 pm
(182) Beginner says:

Hi, I just bought 2 apple trees a granny smith and a yellow delicious. I’m new at this and can’t figure out how old they are. There both around 7 1/2 feet tall. Please Help!!!!!!!

July 7, 2012 at 8:14 pm
(183) Joy says:

The guy that mows my lawn asked if he could trim a low hanging limb on my apple tree that prevented him from mowing a spot in my yard. I asked him if there was a certain way it needed to be done so that it wouldn’t cause rot or disease. He said he has cut a lot of trees and that he could just cut it off. Now, the remaining section where he cut it off is dead and the entire tree has a disease. All the leaves have tons of spots on them. Could the disease be caused by the cutting? I don’t recall it having spots before he cut the limb off, but I don’t want to falsely accuse him if trees cannot get disease from being cut. I am so sad about my tree!!! Part is now dead and the rest is diseased. :(

July 8, 2012 at 9:55 am
(184) Marie Iannotti says:

Beginner, 7 1/2 feet is pretty tall for a new tree, especially if they are dwarf trees. Can’t you find out the age from whomever sold it to you?

More importantly, they should have had some pruning and training already, at that height. If they look like they’ve been trained into a good, open form, you can just continue to do maintenance pruning.

July 8, 2012 at 10:01 am
(185) Marie Iannotti says:

Joy, cutting one limb should not have caused trouble, unless it wasn’t a clean cut. I doubt it is what caused the leaf spotting. Apple trees are extremely susceptible to all kinds of leaf spotting problems, especially if they are not sprayed with a fungicide at the right time. It doesn’t usually kill the tree, although it can weaken it.

But if you are seeing serious die back from the cut inward, you should have someone take a look at it It could be a disease or it could be an insect . You’ll need to have someone physically look at the tree, to say for sure.

July 8, 2012 at 11:02 pm
(186) Beginner says:

Marie, I just bought them from Wal-Mart the other day for 10$ each. There about a inch and a half thick. I read somewhere that they grow 2-3 feet every year. Is that true?

July 9, 2012 at 4:55 pm
(187) Sophie says:

I just bought 2 dwarf trees. It’s in the hundreds where I live and the tags on the trees say I should plant them in full sunlight and I was wondering if I should plant them in part shade

July 11, 2012 at 5:18 pm
(188) gardening says:

Sophie, they really need the sun, to grow well and especially to set fruit.

It is awfully hot right now and it’s not a good time to be planting anything. If you possibly can , I would wait until it cools off or at least until rain is expected, to plant them. In the meantime, keep the containers in partial shade and watered a couple of times a day.

If you can’t do that, make sure you water the trees well, everyday. Mulch around the base, too.

August 14, 2012 at 4:58 pm
(189) Tim says:

My question is about pruning Gala apple. I have watched several apple tree pruning, all talking about fruit-bearing wood is 3-5 year old wood. But I notice that my Gala apple bear fruit from last year’s wood, on the top of the one year wood. Is it common? How to prune this kind of apple tree? Thank you very much.

August 15, 2012 at 12:31 pm
(190) gardening says:

Tim, it’s not unusual, but fruit on new wood is usually small. Two to 4 year old wood generally bears the largest apples. Since most modern apples are grafted hybrids and dwarf or semi-dwarf, they may start fruiting earlier than the big apple trees of the olden days.

You can follow general apple pruning guidelines for Gala.

September 25, 2012 at 9:41 am
(191) jakerobertson says:


September 25, 2012 at 4:09 pm
(192) gardening says:

Jake, I’m not very experienced with grafting, but I don’t think pruning it now will kill it, unless you really cut most of it off. I wouldn’t put anything on it now. Let it heal over. There isn’t much time for insects or fungus to take hold at this time of year.

September 26, 2012 at 6:38 pm
(193) jakerobertson says:

NO. I didnt cut but about 3-5 inches on each graft. I have three varities of apples that were grafted in Feb. I understand dormant pruning is the best, however I’m unable to prune in jan. Basically, alot of the pruning was done in june and july but I headed the plant in September. I know heading is conterversial, but i did it anyhow? I really hope i can keep the apples within the family.

September 26, 2012 at 6:51 pm
(194) jakerobertson says:

No I cut very little of the trees themselves. I merely headed the tree about 4-5 inches from the top of the tree. Most of the pruining of suckers was done in June-July. I knew to wait to Feb but do not really have time.

October 2, 2012 at 4:37 pm
(195) Marie iannotti says:

If the tree looks fine, I really wouldn’t worry about it. For any type of pruning, there’s the ideal time and there’s when you can get to it.

February 13, 2013 at 8:54 pm
(196) tonyyy says:

hi i just pruned a couple apple trees to much there fairly old ..
will this damage the tree?

February 15, 2013 at 4:11 pm
(197) gardening says:

Tonyyy, heavy pruning shouldn’t cause a problem, as long as the tree is healthy.

February 24, 2013 at 2:35 pm
(198) Seed bomb says:

I better get to my cherry tree- I just bought my place and have a out of control tree and it’s late February – hope it will still produce this year

February 25, 2013 at 6:18 am
(199) gardening says:

Cherries aren’t nearly as fussy as apples. They don’t need much pruning. I just remove the damaged branches and let mine be.

March 12, 2013 at 11:10 am
(200) Ajmal Siddiq says:

I have about 4 yrs old Dorsett Golden apple which I planted in 2009 and it is about 12 ft tall and healthy. I thinned it last winter to open up the center Ė as someone mentioned earlier; it is shaped like wine glass. But it has set no fruit thus far. It is kind of struggling to set flowers even.
Then I planted Anna apple in 2011 to give Dorsett Golden a companion for pollination. Although Anna is young and only about 5-6 ft tall but it blooms vigorously and set about 12-15 fruit last year (on its own as Dorsett Golden wasn’t blooming at the same time). And already this year it has about 12 fruit formed on it while Dorsett Golden is still dormant.
The problem is that Anna has developed about 1 inch wide dead skin on its stem. It starts from the root and goes up straight along the stem and ends where the branches start. It has completely engulfed one of the branches which has now lost all its bloom and leaves and looks like slowly dying. Rest of the 3-4 branches on the tree, which are not originating from the dead skin portion of the stem, are healthy and have about 12 fruit set on them (as I mentioned above).
Cause of the problem: I had placed a potted Sansevieria plant beside the Anna tree which froze during the winter one day and then thawed and juices went into the ground and into the Anna tree roots. My guess is that these juices have caused the part of the roots to die and stem to develop this dead skin Ė damage is on the same side of the stem where this pot was earlier sitting. Now I see that white spots/fungus has appeared close to the roots on the dead skin portion of the stem. Is it really what I think it is or itís a disease which will kill the tree unless thereís a remedy? If it is caused by the juices from Sansevieria plant then would it recover on its own as healthy part of the tree will slowly grow and take over dead portion, etc? Any suggestions please?

March 12, 2013 at 6:13 pm
(201) gardening says:

Ajmal, I doubt the problem was caused by the Sansevieria, but it’s impossible to say, without seeing the tree. It sounds like some type of canker or rot and it seems to be spreading. Are you near a cooperative extension office or is there a good nursery nearby? You could take the dying branch in for them to look at.

April 3, 2013 at 12:05 am
(202) Linda says:

I wondered if you might be able to comment on my 15 year old granny smith apple tree that for the first time has produced blossoms on only one of its branches. Always in the past there were blossoms and apples on all branches. This year, all branches but this one are barren except for leaves.
Does it need fertilizer or root pruning?
Any suggestions?

April 3, 2013 at 11:20 am
(203) gardening says:

Linda, flowering on only one branch is unusual. Can you tell me a little more about the tree? Does it look otherwise healthy? Has it been pruned and when. Any unusual weather…

April 6, 2013 at 11:50 am
(204) Rita says:

We have had a Bramley tree for about 12 years which has never been pruned. Friends say it should be pruned but my husband argues that as it produces an excellent yield each year we should leave it be. We do not want to increase the yield but I am told that pruning would increase the size of the fruit. Also is it too late to prune now for this year?

April 17, 2013 at 5:16 am
(205) Keith White says:

For some reason I cut the main stem out of a 3-4 year old apple tree. Is it possible to train one of the branches to take over

April 18, 2013 at 1:53 pm
(206) gardening says:

Rita, Bramley’s set fruit on the tips of their branches, so they don’t require as much pruning as modern spur bearing apples. Pruning of tip bearers is usually just cleaning up and opening the tree. Any branches that are bending down can be pruned back to an upward facing branch. If there center of the tree gets too crowded for light to get in, you can thin the branches a bit. But unless the tree is getting too tall, it won’t need the severe pruning of spur bearing varieties.

Since this year’s fruit buds are already set on the tips of the branches, you don’t want to prune it now. If you would like to get larger apples, you can consider thinning the fruits, once they start forming. Fewer fruits on the tree result in larger fruits.

April 18, 2013 at 1:55 pm
(207) gardening says:

Keith, you should be able to slowly straighten out another branch, if you want a new header. You could also leave the tree in an open vase, or ‘V’ shape, which lets a lot of light into the center. Just be sure the remaining branches remain sturdy, now that they don’t have a leader balancing the weight,

June 2, 2013 at 8:44 am
(208) Shaz says:

I am new growing apple trees, so need some advice. I have a tree with many small apples growing,but it needs pruning will it be ok to prune with them on it.

June 3, 2013 at 4:48 pm
(209) gardening says:

Shaz, if at all possible, I would wait until the plant is dormant to do any major pruning. But if the tree is damaged or could damage something else, go ahead and do it.

June 16, 2013 at 1:32 pm
(210) Elaine Aube says:

We found little green worms on leaves…how do we get rid of them? Our tree is only 3 years old. It has lots of appkes coming. What do we do? Thank you. ELAINE

June 16, 2013 at 1:34 pm
(211) Elaine says:

Found little green worms. Tree is 3 yrs old. What to do?

June 21, 2013 at 3:11 pm
(212) gardening says:

Unfortunately there are multiple little green worms that can bother apple trees. Some are just leaf rollers, others eat into the fruit.

If the problem is too big to hand pick them off, you can try a botanical control like Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis) or spinosad. Both should be available at the garden center.

June 27, 2013 at 7:01 am
(213) Shauna says:

We are going building a shed in 6 weeks time and a lovely over 19 years old apple tree is in the way so we have to move it. Could anyone tell me as soon as possible what’s the best way of transplanting to tree to a new spot without killing the tree???

Also after moving the tree what kind of after care will be needed??


June 27, 2013 at 2:40 pm
(214) gardening says:

Shauna, moving a 19 year old tree is no easy feat and this is a bad time of year to be doing it. Ideally, you would root prune the tree 6 – 8 months before digging it and transplant in the spring or fall. If you can’t wait until fall, you might be better off starting over.

But if you want to give it a try, I’d start by watering it really well, the day before you dig it. You’ll need some type of heavy equipment to get a large enough root ball for the tree to survive. The rule is a 10 in. diameter root ball for every inch in diameter of trunk – which means it is going to be heavy.

Make sure the new hole is dug and ready for planting. Water it really, really well and mulch, as soon as it’s planted. Keep it watered throughout the summer. You may need to stake it, to keep it in place long enough to send down new anchoring roots.Give it some light fertilizer in the fall and continue watering until the ground freezes.

Good luck.

June 27, 2013 at 4:18 pm
(215) janelle says:

When we bought our house 7 years ago our 50 year old apple tree in the back gave us a ton of apples and the whole thing was healthy. Last year parts of it started dying (someone before we bought the house had chopped parts of it, big parts off..branches steaming from below the areas chopped were the first to die). Last year we didn’t find the time to get it professionally pruned. This year only 2 large branches coming from different part of the trunk are alive….I’d say about 30% of it is alive all the rest is dead. We had someone come and look at it. He said it would die not matter what we did. It’s trunk is buried up to the beginning of the branches in gravel. I don’t know if we can save it but my first thought was to prune all the dead off and uncover the buried part of it’s trunk. We don’t know if it is diseased or not. Any advice?

July 3, 2013 at 1:04 pm
(216) gardening says:

Janelle, it sounds like your tree is in decline. Even apple trees don’t live forever and yours hasn’t had ideal growing conditions. It could be that disease or some pest entered the wounded areas or it could be something unrelated, but if you have only a couple of healthy branches, it’s unlikely the tree will regain its vigor.

If you want to give it a try, removing the gravel and doing some clean-up pruning would be the place to start. I wouldn’t feed it now. You don’t want it to have a lot of new growth going into winter. Just keep it well watered and feed it in the spring.

July 21, 2013 at 12:51 am
(217) Amanda says:

We have an old apple tree (approx. 50 years) that every other year produces a huge amount of fruit. My husband trimmed the tree today (despite him being told that the tree should only be cut/trimmed in winter) after being frustrated that he could not mow around without getting hit. He lopped about 10 to 15 branches with approx. 5 of them about a 1/2 to 1 inch in diameter and the rest smaller. The tree is already bearing apples (not fully ready though) and I am devastated and worried for the tree. Please advise if there is anything I can do to help the tree with the trauma and anything I need to watch for its future health.

July 23, 2013 at 1:04 pm
(218) gardening says:

Amanda, I can appreciate your husband’s frustration. I just whacked down a rugosa rose that caught my clothes every time I passed it.

There’s not much you can do for the tree right now, except keep it watered. It may start to ripen the fruits prematurely, while they’re still small. As long as it’s not subjected to any more stress, I think there’s still enough time before winter for it to adjust to the trauma.

August 4, 2013 at 4:52 pm
(219) Meg says:

Our large apple tree had one of its major branches break off earlier this week and I just noticed yesterday that another major branch has broken at the trunk. Is this because of the weight of the apples, or is it likely that our tree is damaged or dying? I love this apple tree, and it is the only tree in our backyard. What should we be doing?

August 6, 2013 at 5:48 am
(220) gardening says:

Meg, it’s hard to diagnose, without seeing the tree. Unless there is an unusually large amount of apples on the branches, it’s unlikely to cause multiple branches to break. It sounds like your tree could have problems that are making it brittle. It could be insects inside, root or bark damage that prevents the uptake of water or something else entirely. If you don’t see any obvious problems, the best way to diagnose it is to call a certified arborist. They charge about $100, depending where you are, but it can be cheaper than removing and replacing a tree. A couple of other options would be to see if your local cooperative extension has a visiting Master Gardener program or taking a branch into a knowledgeable nursery, but an arborist would be your best bet.

September 2, 2013 at 1:43 am
(221) Shelia says:

We purchased a home last spring with an old golden delicious apple tree. The tree produced a lot of apples. We were disappointed that we think it is diseased with black spot. We understand that we need to prune it. It looks like it hasn’t been pruned in years. My question: should we prune first or treat first?

September 2, 2013 at 2:50 am
(222) gardening says:

Sheila, a lot of us were disappointed with black spot this year.

Both pruning and spraying should be done in the spring. Clean up all the leaves and any remaining apples this fall, so less of the spores remain in the area.

Prune the tree in late winter/early spring and then use a fungicide with sulfur and/or copper, usually just as the buds are starting to swell. Check the specific instructions for whatever fungicide you choose, but most are used as the new buds are opening.

September 3, 2013 at 7:28 pm
(223) Steve V says:

I have a fairly large apple tree in my yard that is bursting with apples this fall. One of the main branches has split at the top due to the added weight. What should I do?

September 4, 2013 at 5:46 am
(224) gardening says:

Steve, the safest thing to do would be to prune it below the break. But if you want to try to safe the limb, it is often possible for the tree to fuse itself back together. You’d need to pull the two sides tightly back together and hold them there. You can hold them together by screwing a lag screw hook in each limb, above the split, and using a cable to secure them in place.

It is also possible to use long screws or bolts, to hold the pieces together.

For valuable trees and difficult to reach branches, I’d really recommend calling in an arborist.

October 8, 2013 at 10:31 am
(225) Joy says:

I planted 4 apple trees 2 years ago, Gala, Mollie, Granny Smith, and Anna. A few months ago, all the leaves on the Gala suddenly turned brown. The leaves are still on the tree. I’m in the Texas Hill Country and kept the trees watered. They are in a sodded area with no other plants near by. Is the tree dead?

October 17, 2013 at 4:26 pm
(226) Marie Iannotti says:

Joy, sorry for the late response. I thought I posted but I can’t imagine where it went.

It’s really hard to diagnose a tree without seeing it. There had to be some cause for all the leaves to turn brown at once. It could be a root problem, damage to the bark, a disease that Gala is particularly susceptible too or even herbicide drift. It’s not necessarily fatal.

The best thing to do would be to bring a small sample branch to your local cooperative extension or a good nursery. They’ll be better able to answer by examining it than I can.

November 8, 2013 at 3:22 pm
(227) Starisoldat says:

I live on the high plains east of colorado springs co and have planted many bare root fruit trees. This spring was extremely harsh with several periods of week long warm periods followed by 2-3 day long hard freezes. Worse yet the trees survived got hit hard with Fire Blight. I’ve been told to prune the trees back to an extreme measure and use a copper based paint over the wounds. Then starting in the spring to use a combination of various anti-fungal sprays on trees 2 to 3 times week.

The surviving trees are all about 4-6 feet tall and are 2 to 3 inches thich. The trees are all planted 20 feet apart.

What can I do to save these trees AND have them able to thrive not just barely haning on?

November 8, 2013 at 4:54 pm
(228) gardening says:

Pruning out the branches affected with fire blight is the right thing to do. The bacteria will over-winter and reinfect when the weather warms up.

I’m not familiar with cooper based paints, but a copper fungicide/bactericide should be applied in the spring, as soon as you see the leaves starting to unfurl. And keep an eye out for signs of re-infestation (branches that look unusually yellow) and remove them immediately. If there is re-infestation, you should start seeing it shortly after the trees bloom.

Unfortunately we can’t control the weather and it’s very likely blossoms could be blasted by temperature fluctuations again. The trees sound like they’re a little large to move, but for new trees, an ideal site would be away from strong winds or valleys, where cool air settles. And contrary to what we might logically think, an eastern or northern exposure can be better than a western or southern, because it won’t warm up early in the season and encourage the blossoms to open before the weather stabilizes.

January 7, 2014 at 6:04 pm
(229) Mark A Raymond says:

We have a old apple tree that use to produse alot of apples. dont know what kind but they were odd shaped. Anyhow my question is can you take the suckers that grow off the trunk and replant them and they grow and produce apples? We have about 20 or so suckers all over the trunk at varying heights.

January 8, 2014 at 4:52 pm
(230) gardening says:

Mark, you could replant them, but you’re going to get the variety of whatever the top portion of your tree is. If you have a dwarf or semi-dwarf tree, it has been grafted onto a different rootstock. If you plant a branch from the top portion, you will get the original tree, probably a full sized apple tree. There’s nothing wrong with that, but they can be hard to maintain. But you have nothing to lose by trying.

January 15, 2014 at 12:21 pm
(231) Clare says:

Hi, we have an apple tree in back garden which had a span of about 30 ft and a height of at least 20!! I’ve just had a ‘tree surgeon’ come in (and now have the distinct feeling he is not qualified!!) and he has taken a chain saw to the tree leaving it with just the main stem and about 6 slightly smaller branches and now about 8ft high. Please tell me he hasn’t killed it? I can live with it not producing fruit next year but I’m really concerned he has damaged it beyond repair :-(

January 29, 2014 at 2:43 pm
(232) gardening says:

Clare, that is a bit more drastic than I would have done, especially all at once. But apple trees are resilient. That’s how they mange to live so long, even when they are damaged. Unfortunately I can’t really say how yours will fare. I’m afraid you’ll just have to wait and see.

February 27, 2014 at 12:56 pm
(233) Sammy says:

Hi, I left my husband to prune the apple tree in our new house but neither of us know what we’re doing but I think he’s cut too much off. There’s hardly anything if the tree left! Will this kill the tree or will we just not get any fruit this year? Thanks

February 27, 2014 at 2:44 pm
(234) julie says:

I have already pruned my apple and peach tree’s I do prune them different at my home I prune for ease of picking and do not let them grow taller than I can reach on a step ladder. This makes for larger apples and peaches but less. In the orchards I prune for quality and quantity.

March 27, 2014 at 4:52 pm
(235) Kate says:

We moved into a derelict property and had the garden cleared up. At the bottom of the garden was an ornamental apple tree. Tree surgeon pruned it back to give it some shape, only half though as it overhangs a fence and our neighbour likes it. Since the pruning we’ve had wood grow, but no leaves or blossom. Neighbours side is leafy and productive as ever. The pruning was 2summers ago & we’ve noticed nothings growing again this year? Is it too late to save it?

March 29, 2014 at 2:16 pm
(236) gardening says:

Gee, Kate, that’s odd. Pruning shouldn’t have hurt it. But if it hasn’t leafed out in 2 years, it doesn’t sound good. Maybe something happened to the roots on your side?

I don’t even know what to recommend, other than to have it looked at by a pro. I’ve never heard of woody growth without leafy growth. When you cut a small branch, is there any green inside or is it just brittle?

April 8, 2014 at 9:55 pm
(237) Cathy says:

I’ve had a 5-grafted apple tree for going on 4 years now. The first year I pinched off all of the blossoms. The second year I pinched off half of the blossoms, and enjoyed some good fruit. Last year, I pinched off blossoms down to 2 or 3/bunch. The majority of my apples (regardless of type) grew substantially in size, then rotted on the tree without getting red and yummy. I have no mold, moss, or bugs. This is my 4th year. I WANT TO EAT MY HONEY CRISPS!!! Any ideas what happened last year?

April 10, 2014 at 1:07 am
(238) Paul says:

I bought what was supposed to be a dwarf granny smith tree a few years ago which has not produced fruit until this year. The problem is it has grown to over three metres tall and all the lovely fruit are at the top. The land slopes about 40 degrees so I can’t use my ladder and can’t tell when the fruit is ripe. I intend to prune it down to a managable height so I’ll guess when the apples are ripe. Any other suggestions?

April 10, 2014 at 5:29 pm
(239) gardening says:

Cathy, it sounds like your tree had some type of fungal disease. I can’t say for sure which one, since there are several types of apple rot. Here’s a link with photos of one of the most common ones, <a href=”http://ohioline.osu.edu/hyg-fact/3000/pdf/HYG_3302_08.pdf”>Bitter rot</a>.

Good sanitation – removing all the rotten apples from and under the tree, is essential. Then spraying with a fruit fungicide, probably something with copper and lime, may help deter it. You need to start before the tree leafs out, but follow the label instructions for what ever product you buy.

I hope you get your honey crisps this year.

April 10, 2014 at 5:31 pm
(240) gardening says:

Paul, have you been pruning it every year? The only other suggestion I have is to weight the branches so they hang lower, but if they are really at the top, that might not help.

April 12, 2014 at 7:10 pm
(241) sal says:

i cut the main root from my apple tree because it was bent from the wind its 20 years old will it live

April 14, 2014 at 5:19 am
(242) gardening says:

Sal, do you mean the main stem or trunk? If so, it’s not great for the plant, but it should not kill it.

April 21, 2014 at 1:02 pm
(243) william stewart says:

when is it safe to move my cox’s pippin from its present location to a place alongside my fence ready to fantail it.

April 21, 2014 at 3:28 pm
(244) gardening says:

William, either fall or spring, before it leafs out. I’d do it as soon as possible and remember to keep it well watered and let it settle in.

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