Pruning Cherry Trees: How-To Guide & The Best Time To Prune

Knowing the right time for pruning cherry trees with the correct method is valuable. If you prune the plants, they will give maximum results for fruit production.

Also, the harvest and care will be easier too. Furthermore, all fruiting trees need pruning. It is the most important process in the growing stage.

Moreover, this article will provide you with a how-to guide and all the knowledge you need.


Why Pruning Cherry Tree?

Pruning cherry tree stem
Pruning Cherry Tree

The main reason to do the pruning is to make sure the cherry tree gets good access to sunlight. This way would also create some kind of aeration.

Likewise, it allows the light to penetrate the tree more effectively.

Therefore, the tree will produce fruits that have better quality. The tree becomes stronger and it can battle or thwart any kind of problem.

After the pruning, the tree will develop a proper form. It would remain healthier as a whole.

If you do not prune the cherry tree properly, it tends to have branches with upright angles. The limb will get damaged because of the heavy fruit production from the tree.

The Best Time to Prune

Cutting cherry tree in garden
Cutting Cherry Tree

For fruit trees, the best time for trimming is when the tree is in its dormant state during the winter season.

However, it is not the same case with sweet cherries. This type of plant is more susceptible to bacterial diseases and fungi.

The pruned limbs can get infected easily. So, you have to do the pruning in the late summer to avoid the problems.

However, there is a risk of summer pruning. It tends to reduce the fruit production energy of the tree. The growth can also be affected.

To deal with this issue, use only thinning cuts. How does this method work?

It will remove the whole shoot, limp, or branch up to the original point. Besides, it becomes a good technique to open up the canopy.

The dormant pruning cherry trees is the more aggressive one.

During this dormant season, many parts of the tree will be cut back. However, the energy will still be there inside the tree.

The crucial thing is the pruning time. Then, the late winter is a great moment to prevent tree injury.

Besides, pruning cherry trees can be done in the early spring. In fact, it is also a prime time for trimming the young tree.

You could shape and train the form of the tree before it reaches its blossoming state. Begin the pruning as the buds start to appear.

Before doing the process, wait until the extreme cold temperatures have passed. It is to prevent damage from the cold because the younger tree is quite susceptible.

If the cherry trees are mature, you can prune them in the early spring or after the fruit pops out.

How To Prune Cherry Tree

Cherry tree flowers blooming
Cherry Tree

Before starting pruning, there are tools you need to prepare. Get a hand pruner, a pruning saw, and
long-handled lopping shears.

It is important to sterilize the pruning tools before doing any cutting. You do not want the limb to get any potential spread of diseases from other trees.

To clean the tools, wipe them by using rubbing alcohol and a rag. To be more precise, you can mix bleach and water in 1:9 quantity.

After application, just rinse it with clean water and let it dry.

Pruning Young Cherry Tree

Cutting young cherry tree branch with scissor
Cutting Cherry Tree Branch

For the young cherry tree, you should prune it to be an open vase-like shape. It allows the light and air penetration to be more effective to support healthy growth.

Cutting off the suckers is the initial step to do. Trim it right outside the collar of the branch which is the raised area between the stem and trunk.

This is actually a good method of pruning cherry trees in pots and containers. When it gets taller or bigger, it is better to move it to the ground.

In the fall and winter, you can do a heading cut which is removing one-third to one-half of the shoot, branch, or limb.

Heading simply means cutting off the leader’s top. Once again, it is for the young tree in the early years.

In the subsequent year, you have to set up a scaffold whorl. Make it sturdy enough to hold the branches properly.

The following year is the time to create the second one. The taller tree will require a higher set of scaffold whorl.

Pruning Mature Cherry Tree

Cherry tree branch cutting using scissor
Branch Cutting

When the tree reaches three years old, you can begin pruning out new limbs vertically. Doing that will promote outward growth.

Loppers or pruning saws are needed instead of shears. Always remember to prepare clean tools before pruning.

Cut off the damaged limbs and take off any dead fruits from the branches. Prune any suckers from the tree base you can find.

Any crossed branches can also be a disturbance, remove them all. Make sure to clean up any leftovers.

Because Cherries are susceptible to disease, you can cover all the cut limbs with a sealant. It will fend off diseases.

Rejuvenating Old Cherry Trees

Cutting old branch cherry tree
Cutting Old Branch Tree

In this part of the article, you can learn how to rejuvenate an old cherry tree. Well, some fruit trees are easy to restore, the others are quite difficult.

Therefore, you should identify which type of tree you are about to rejuvenate.

Sometimes, it might be hard to find out what type of fruit this old tree is. Head to the local extension office to help you name the tree.

Apple and pear trees are easy to restore. Cherry trees are also possible for rejuvenation.

Pruning cherry trees would be the first step in reviving the old ones. Cut off all the damaged branches. Prune out all the suckers on the base too.

After that, you may need to trim the height of the tree. Do not cut them off by half in the first year.

For restoration, you can cut height by pruning the principal limbs back to strong shoots. Thin out the hanging and crossing branches to let the sunlight get into the tree’s top third.

The second year of pruning the old cherry trees should be in the summer. Remove those vigorous new shoots on top.

Leave the lower ones the way it is supposed to be. The mission here is to let the tree produce new wood at the bottom spot.

The second winter season is another time for pruning. You need to lower the height one more time for about a few feet.

If needed, shorten the limbs to give better lights for branches in the lower section.

When the third summer season has arrived, trim the most vigorous top shoots about half of the size. During the winter of the same year, you can continue to lower the outer branches.

Stella Cherry Tree

Ripe stella cherry fruits
Stella Cherry

This type of cherry tree is a quite popular choice by gardeners. These stunning plants will make a great addition to small gardens.

The steps of how to prune a Stella cherry tree are similar to the previous guide for a young tree.

Stella cherry offers gorgeous white blossoms and dark-red juicy fruits which can handle cracking and splitting.

It becomes one of the greatest features that gardeners love about this variety. This tree is self-fertile. You just need to plant just one for your garden.

Pruning the Stella cherry tree is not necessary for fruiting. People prune the tree just to cut away any damaged or dead branches immediately.

Sometimes, you can do pruning for aesthetic purposes. Prune it in the winter season when it is in a dormant state.

Dwarf Cherry Tree

Close-up cherry tree buds picture
Cherry Tree Buds

This is a small version of this plant. The way of pruning dwarf cherry trees is quite similar to the regular one.

The main benefit of pruning is to promote a tree with a strong framework. So, it can handle the wind and weather to pop out a lot of fruits.

Once it passes the tree-year time, it needs a new pruning strategy. The mission is to encourage the spread horizontally for the branches so the tree would still be small.

The first time of pruning the dwarf cherry tree should be done in the early spring. Thus, the plant will develop a strong branch.

Cut off all the shoots and suckers from the base up to the top of the plant. Do not forget to put on gloves for protection.

Use long-handled shears to prune the limbs on the top two-thirds of the plant.

After the third year of growth, it is time to do the pruning for maintenance. Cut off the shoots that grow vertically during the early spring. Do it again in the fall season.

Moreover, cut the limbs and branches into pieces and ready to be stored.

You have an important thing to consider. Do not begin a major pruning process during summer. It will slow the tree’s growth.


Above all, pruning cherry trees is a very important process. Hopefully, this guide will give you the best result for trees and fruits.

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