Questions and Answers about Fruit and Nut Trees and Vines

Question:
How do I trim Confederate Jasmine vine to keep it looking neat and under control?

Answer:
You will want to prune your jasmine vine after it flowers. When you prune you will need to cut out any weak, damaged or dead shoots, and also remove any overcrowded growth. Never remove more than one-third of the vine in a year.

back to top

Question:
My wisteria's new leaves this spring are starting to curl up, turn brown and dry up. What would the problem be?

Answer:
Generally, are so hardy and hardly ever have a problem with pests or disease. Did you prune the vine during the dormant season? If not, what you see may be the old foliage from last year that hasn't been consumed by the new growth this year. Also, did you fertilize early this spring? It's best to fertilize either after frost or in early Spring. Use a fertilizer that is relatively low in nitrogen and relatively high in phosphate.

back to top

Question:
How and when should we prune a Russian Olive shrub? Do we need to trim bowing branches right back to the trunk or can we remove part of a branch?

Answer:
If your tree is healthy, you can leave it unpruned to create a very dense plant. If that's not the look you want, trim the lower branches, leaving one main trunk. Always remove any dead, diseased or awkward (such as your bowing branches) growth as soon as you notice it. Prune your Russian Olive tree in late winter. When pruning, cut back to the point the branch started.

back to top

Question:
How should I prune a curly filbert? It's huge, and only part of the bush is curly.

Answer:
The curly filbert is more commonly known as the corkscrew hazelnut. These bushes should be left to develop their own natural shape, only removing the dead, damaged, diseased or crossing branches. Light pruning can be done once it is established in order to shape, thin or restrict the size of the bush. I am not sure why only part of the bush is curly. You could try cutting that straight branch down to the ground next winter and see if the new shoots that develop grow back curly. In fact, if the whole bush is just huge and out of control, cut the whole bush down to the ground in the winter. From the suckers that develop, choose the best stems, and remove the weak and badly placed ones.

back to top

Question:
We have an apple tree in our backyard that is pretty over grown, but it looks healthy and will produce a few small hard apples every fall. Is it worth trying to save and produce healthy looking fruit?

Answer:
Without looking at the tree, it is hard to determine if it is worth saving. If you are getting some fruit, that's a good sign. If you are willing to put forth the effort over the next few years, it may be worth your time. It may just need a thorough pruning.

back to top

Question:
Is it OK to remove the young fruit on a flowering crabapple tree? There are so many the tree is bent over all the time

Answer:
It can be normal for the weight of the fruit to cause branches to bend over on your crabapple tree. It should be fine to thin out the fruit. This winter you also may want to thin out some of the branches.

back to top

Question:
What are suckers on a raspberry bush? My raspberry bush has a woody stem that the berries grew on. There are other very tall, green, thorny stems that are actually taller that the woody one. Do I cut these off at the base?

Answer:
Suckers are new shoots that pop up out of the ground, sometimes several feet away from the row of plants. You'll want to cut these off at ground level. Keeping a layer of mulch between the rows helps to minimize the amount of suckers. In the spring, prune out any winter-killed canes at ground level. You'll want to cut back the remaining canes at about chest height. If your tall, thorny stems are not bearing fruit, cut them back to a few inches above the ground to allow better circulation. If they have fruit on them, wait until after the harvest and cut back at soil level all the canes that have borne fruit. It should be easy to tell which canes have just fruited because you can see what remains of the little berry clusters after the berries have been picked. If you let the job go or weren't around during the fruiting season, you'll be able to distinguish the old canes because they are darker, with peeling bark. Obviously, you should remove any part of the plant that looks diseased as soon as you spot it.

back to top

Question:
When should I prune my peach trees?

Answer:
Peach trees should be pruned yearly to maintain an open center, and to eliminate weak or misdirected branch growth. If the trees have experienced winter damage, prune off the damaged wood in the early spring. This will allow the wounds to close faster as growth begins. In the early spring you should also be able to see how many flower buds have survived the cold weather. Using thinning cuts also helps keep the center of the tree open. Be sure to thin the fruit on the trees to about 6 inches between fruits. Wait to thin the fruit until June to see what the tree naturally drops itself. This thinning increases the size and quality of the fruit, and it prevents limbs from breaking under the heavy weight of the fruit. Always prune before early summer and start minimizing your watering at this time, too. You don't want to stimulate new growth on the tree that will not have time to harden before winter. Don't let these peach trees branch too close to the ground. The best fruit often grows at the top of the trees. Keep the tops of trees low, so they are easily accessible.

back to top

Question:
My new yard has four apple trees and one peach tree. When should I prune and spray it?

Answer:
Wait to prune the trees until late winter, so you can check for winter damage. At that time, you will want to remove any dead or diseased wood. Also, prune away any crossing limbs to let sunlight into the center of the tree. Never remove more than one third of the branches in a given year. It is too devastating for the tree. You should wait to spray your trees in the spring just before the buds open.

back to top

Question:
What month is best to trim small fruit trees and flowering trees in my driveway?

Answer:
If you live in a warm climate, prune the trees when they are dormant. If you are in a cold climate, wait until late winter, so you can remove any wood damaged by the cold or wind.

back to top

Back to Subject List