When the leaves of my Japanese plums (Prunus salicina) change color and fall off, it’s time for fall pruning. The goal is to remove branches that have reached the desired thickness and wire branches that are soft enough to bend.
Here’s an example.
Tree #1 before pruning
Tree #1 after pruning and wiring
These plums are roughly eight years old and are in the middle stages of development. I want the trunks to get bigger but I don’t know exactly how big I want them to grow.
Having watched the trunks take shape over the years, I’ve had time to think about the style or shape these trees may grow into. My current approach is to focus less on making the trunks fit into a basic style and instead create movement where the branches would otherwise grow straight.
Both straight and curvy growth can be found on plums growing in the landscape, but I’m erring on the side of curvy movement. It’s a cultivated look, but one that reminds me of some of the first plum bonsai I saw years ago.
Here’s another example.
Tree #2 before
Tree #2 after pruning
Tree #2 after wiring
These trees have been entirely container grown and are now in three gallon containers. I’d get faster results were they growing in the ground, but it’s easier to work on them in containers.
Tree #3 before
Tree #3 after
The current plan is to let the trunks develop for at least a few more years before turning the focus to branch development. In the meantime, I’ll let the trees grow freely until summer when I’ll check to see if they need pruning and wiring again.
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If you’re looking for inexpensive containers for cuttings, seedlings or other young trees, you might try growing with poly pots. They’re also a good fit for approach grafting as it’s easy to secure the soft containers in tight spaces.
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