Spring Fruit Tree Care

If the coldest weather is likely past and the buds on your trees are expanding now is the time to prune most of your fruit trees.   Apples, cherries, peaches, pears, plums, and apricots should all be pruned at this time.

I pruned my trees last week and will be spraying them with horticultural oil within days.  Pruning of fruit trees helps them to be healthier, produce better, and makes harvesting easier. Check with your county extension service and see if they have free pruning demonstrations.

You can prune dead, broken, or branches that rub against others at anytime.  Be sure to cut branches back to another branch or a bud.  If you cut in between branches or buds it will die back anyway.  If you hire someone to prune be sure that they know how to prune fruit trees and that they do not top trees.  Topping trees is unhealthy for the tree and will create problems in the future.  Arborists are professional tree pruners.

After pruning spray the entire tree with horticultural oil.  The oil spray suffocates overwintering insects on the tree.  I would consider oil spray to be one of the most important things you can do for insect control.


  1. Any links to good pruning resources? I only have one fruit tree (plum) growing in a large container and want to make sure I make it as productive and healthy as possible.

  2. Alan,
    Below are some sites that may be of help to you. You could also search your extension service website or put your state and "extension service" in your search terms to find something.
    I am sure you would find some good videos on YouTube but consider the expertise of the person submitting it.
    Hope that helps.

  3. I have been planting fruit trees in containers this year. Is there any recommended height or fruit tree restrictions (varieties that will not adapt to containers) for container planting?

  4. farfly775,
    Much depends on what you are planting, whether they are dwarf, semi dwarf, what type of climate you are in, and the size of the pot. I grow lemon, lime, grapefruit, and orange in containers so that I can move them inside for the winter. They are dwarf trees.
    The pot would need to either keep the plant warm enough through the winter or be transportable. Some trees need a certain amount of cold weather to fruit so could not be moved indoors.
    With more information I may be able to advise you better.

  5. Can you tell me more about the oil you use?

  6. Amanda,
    It is usually called horticultural oil. Dormant oil can usually only be sprayed before trees leaf out but horticultural oil can be used as long as temperatures are below 85 F. It is always best to avoid spraying when bees are present and in the cooler part of the day.
    A couple examples: