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With columnar fruit you can fulfill the dream of your own fruit-bearing fruit tree, even in small gardens and properties with little space. Due to their shape, the columnar trees are extremely space-saving, but still produce juicy fruits ranging from apples to plums, which are in no way inferior in taste to the classic tree shapes. The pruning is of course important for a rich harvest in columnar trees. Pruning ensures that the trees remain vital and healthy.

Best time

The timing of pruning fruit trees depends on the type of plant. Since columnar fruit is not just pears or cherries, but a large variety of different taxa, you must pay attention to the individual pruning times. For example, when an apple needs to be cut differs significantly from columnar blackberries or raspberries. It doesn't matter whether you planted the columnar fruit outdoors or kept the plants in the bucket. When to cut, refer to the following list:

  • Apples (bot. Malus domestica): mid-June - late June
  • Blackberries (bot. Rubus sectio Rubus): October (cut immediately after harvest)
  • Cherries (bot. Prunus avium and Prunus cerasus): mid-July - late July
  • Pears (bot. Pyrus communis): mid-June - late June
  • Apricots (bot. Prunus armeniaca): June
  • Raspberries (bot. Rubus idaeus): March - mid-April
  • Gooseberries (bot. Ribes uva-crispa): all year round
  • Nectarines (bot. Prunus persica var. nucipersica): twice, rarely three times over the summer period
  • Plums (bot. Prunus domestica subsp. domestica): June
  • Elder (bot. Sambucus): all year round
  • Kiwi (bot. Actinidia): October - November (cut immediately after harvest)
  • Peach (bot. Prunus persica): Spring, just before flowering

Columnar fruit growth groups

All of these fruits belong to one of the two growth groups of columnar fruit. These are the classic fruit trees, but they are raised as a variety to form a column. In contrast, there is another group that contains only special apple varieties that naturally grow straight and have short side branches. These are the 'true' columnar apples, which include some of the following varieties, commonly cultivated in England and based on the 'McIntosh' variety:

  • 'Golden Gate'
  • 'Arbat'
  • 'Red River'

When it comes to pruning, there is a big difference between apples and columnar apples. While apples that are raised as columns experience pruning in the summer, columnar apples only need to be treated with one pruning throughout the year. Since these do not develop really long side branches, the annual care of the columnar apples is particularly easy and can be easily implemented even by inexperienced gardeners.

Cut columnar fruit

If you decide to have columnar fruit in your garden, there are three different types of pruning that you need to use. These do not depend on the age or health of the columnar trees, but on the species. For example, you can completely do without a topiary, as the side shoots of the trees are kept short so that the plant does not sprout too much. At the same time, the tree is tempted to grow more upwards, which further saves space. The required tools for all cutting measures are:

  • pruning shears
  • secateurs
  • gloves

When using the scissors, be sure to clean and sharpen them before use. You don't want to run the risk of damaging the wood and thereby weakening the columnar trees. This is especially important if you have previously cut diseased plants where pathogens can remain on the blade and infect the columnar fruit.

tip: If no fruit develops after flowering but only withers, this always indicates a problem, such as a fungal infection or a pest infestation. Find out immediately about the typical symptoms of the individual types of fruit and apply appropriate countermeasures to protect your columnar trees.

Regular care cut: instructions

This pruning applied to the following three types of fruit:

  • Column apples (growing by column shape genetically)
  • gooseberries
  • elder

The maintenance measure serves to remove the columnar fruit from branches that restrict growth and thus negatively influence the formation of flowers and fruits. As described above, this is carried out all year round, except in winter. Because if you cut the columnar fruit in winter, it would significantly weaken the plants and increase the risk of infection and pest infestation. The rest of the year, from the frost-free spring to the frost-free autumn, is the perfect time for this pruning measure. Follow these instructions:

1. Look for dead branches

Look at the columnar tree and look for any branches that have died, dried up, or snapped off. You can recognize dried and dead branches by their dark colour, which clearly contrasts with the healthy ones. This is where you need to be as thorough as possible, especially if you have elderberries and gooseberries. In comparison, columnar apples rarely need to be cared for.

2. Remove dried branches

Use scissors to cut back the appropriate branches. Side branches are rarer in these species, but should still be removed.

3. Stimulate growth

In the case of gooseberries and elderberries, the shoots are cut completely down to the trunk or the next stronger branch. On the other hand, cut back columnar apples by two, maximum three eyes. This stimulates growth and thus the formation of flowers and fruits.

4. Dispose of what is cut off

Then dispose of the cut plant parts.

You can do this cut several times throughout the year To run. The plants do not suffer from this and recover very quickly. This makes it easier to maintain the vitality of the plant, which will have a positive effect on your crop yield.

Shape cutting: instructions

The topiary is compared to the regular touch-up only once a year carried out and is important to keep soft fruit in shape. Therefore, the pruning is mainly used for blackberries and raspberries, which you keep as columnar fruit. Since these plants often need an incentive to branch, pruning is necessary. Blackberries and raspberries need to be well branched to enable a large yield, which can then be achieved by pruning. Be sure to wear gloves when doing this work and follow these instructions:

1st time

Raspberries are cut in the second year after planting, blackberries in the first year.

2. Blackberries

Cut back the side branches of the blackberries to a length of ten centimetres. Do this carefully, because the more you cut off, the faster it will sprout again, resulting in good branching. If you find weak blackberry shoots, simply remove them completely.

3. Raspberries

With raspberries, cut back all branches that come from the previous year, whether they are vertical or lateral shoots. Shorten this severely to less than four inches, but not back to the trunk or a larger branch.

It is best to give the raspberry a shape when you cut it. She can sprout heavily into odd shapes, which aren't necessarily appealing. For this reason, trim the sides more than the branches sticking up.

4. Discard section

Finally, dispose of the plant remains on the compost.

tip: If you choose modern raspberry or blackberry varieties without thorns as column fruit, you can safely do without the gloves. These trees are completely harmless and will not harm you.

Pear as a column fruit

Pruning: instructions

The pruning should be used primarily for the stone fruit varieties, as these form the strongest branches together with the classic apples and kiwis. This means that you often even need pruning shears for these. The following types of fruit are being pruned:

  • kiwi
  • peaches
  • apples
  • apricots
  • pears
  • cherries
  • plums
  • nectarines

When pruning, it is particularly important to preserve the classic columnar shape of the plants, which is often reminiscent of the growth form of fir trees. The columnar shape is then usually achieved by the plants in the third year after planting. By pruning, the plant remains young and vital, which will lead to a rich harvest. In addition, the compact form is made possible. Proceed as follows when pruning:

1. Shorten side shoots

Only shorten the side shoots. These give the columnar fruit its preferred shape.

2. Limit wild growth

These are cut back to two to three eyes, except for nectarines. There are three to four leaf bases, which protects Prunus persica var. nucipersica from growing wild. More work is not required for the care cut.

3. Dispose of plant remains

Be as thorough as possible when removing the side shoots. Then dispose of the plant remains and take good care of the plants.

If your columnar trees are too tall for you, you can easily shorten them when pruning. To do this, cut back the top branches to the number given in the instructions and repeat this the following year. How to keep your columnar fruit at your desired height.

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