Pruning a Crabapple Tree (Video)

How and When to Prune Crabapple Trees

You want to prune your Crabapple Trees in the Springtime when there are no frosts. Removing damaged and congested branches will encourage flowering and new growth.

You will need a ladder, pruning saw, loppers and secateurs.


Hi, I’m Andi from Ashridge Nurseries. We've got this lovely little crabapple tree, and we’re going to give it a little bit of a thin because it’s got a bit congested in here. So we're going to remove some of these more congested branches out of the centre to give it a bit more air and a bit more shape.

It's a lovely windy day in the spring. I've got some good ladders and a great big beech tree attacking me. But I'm pretty sure we’ll be fine.

So I'm just going to start by opening this space up. Some of the smaller branches can go and you can see we’ve got some awkward bits. I'll start with my secateurs, so we can just snip out some little bits, get some sense to it.

The secateurs are nice and sharp and I’m going to prune for shape. So this is a bit awkward and it's got quite a bit of damage on the top. So that's a pruning saw job. And when I'm cutting, I'm going to cut fairly flush to the trunk, because I don't really want it to regrow. If I wanted to stimulate growth, I’d cut a little bit away from it, which is what we call a dutch cut and that will stimulate new growth, but I want to cut it off flush.

Immediately you can see, by taking one branch out, it's immediately more open. I've got two very awkward ones here. The top one is a nasty shape and the bottom is lovely. So I'm just going to step over here. What I'm going to do is cut the branch off and then I'm going to prune the stump.

Just do a little undercut - and that’s off. I'll come back to my saw now to what we call ‘stump that off’.

There’s a nice little noggin. Again, it’s already much less congested. So I've got these two very close together. I'm just going to lose the lower one. And we've got a little bit of awkwardness here. I quite like that branch. I quite like this. It’s the two little ones going outwards I’m less pleased with. So we’ll just very quickly and easily nip them off.

So I’ll come into there with that, and then we'll have that one out as well. And again, I’m cutting nice and tight to the trunk. So that's much better already. We've only taken a few branches out. I’ve got this awkward bit here and now I'm going to create a little bit of shape. So we got a lot of upward growth which is untidy and a little bit gnarly.

So if we look at the end of this branch, it's all really messy. I guess that's been repeatedly hit by this giant beech tree. So what I'm going to try and do is finish this off here, lose that there and I’ll try and make a new growth line from this branch here. That’s going to come off there and we create a nicer line.

And now I'm going to see what I can get out of that. That's going to create a more attractive line. I'm going to leave that alone. We can do a lot of very fine pruning up here, but you can debate how worthwhile that is. How much of it are we going to see? How much are we going to notice? So that's going from there and we've got another awkward bit here that can go back there, but I'm going to come down, I'm going to have a little look and see how it looks and I will make a judgement about if I need to cut any more.

I’ve thinned this lower bit and I think it's a much better looking tree now. I'll probably come back next winter and we'll have another look at it, but I think for now that'll do this lovely tree. It'll have lots of flowers and beautiful crab apples and it's going to stunning. I think that's probably enough for this year for it.

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Thank you, The Ashridge Nurseries Team.

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