Monty Don shares a winter apple tree pruning warning

He explains why too much pruning could potentially lead to a vicious circle and ruin your fruit tree

apple tree
(Image credit: Alamy)

Gardening expert Monty Don has shared a winter apple tree pruning warning, as he explains why you should avoid getting too enthusiastic with your secateurs.

Pruning is a daunting task, but it can be one of the key January gardening jobs to get ticked off at the beginning of the year, when the branches are bare and you can see what you're doing. 

The Gardeners' World host has some wise words of advice to follow if you're not totally confident when it comes to pruning your apple tree correctly.

Apple pruning in winter

(Image credit: Liubov Yashkir/Alamy Stock Photo)

Monty Don winter apple tree pruning warning

Broadcaster, author, and gardening guru Monty Don recently shared a winter apple tree pruning warning on his blog (opens in new tab). He explains how gardeners can end up in a vicious circle that prevents the tree from bearing fruit. 

'If you prune an apple tree hard each winter it will make a mass of new growth but no flowers – and therefore no fruit,' he begins. 'This cycle is often perpetuated by even harder pruning the following year – to get rid of all that new, fruitless growth, which, having lots of lovely succulent sap, will attract aphids and fungal disease,' says Monty Don. 

'So through over-zealous and mistimed pruning people often ruin their fruit trees,' he adds. So when is the best time? Monty Don says that if you want to keep the growth of a large tree under control, July is the optimal time to prune.

monty don

Author and broadcaster Monty Don

(Image credit: Alamy)

The summer months are a good opportunity to prune because the foliage is fully grown and the roots won't have started storing food for winter yet. However, if you're in any doubt, don't prune at all.

As Monty Don says, you'll never do any harm by not pruning, and patience is a virtue when it comes to gardening. Read up on winter fruit tree pruning to help you tackle the task with confidence.

apple tree with blossom in garden with gate

(Image credit: Getty)

When doing any pruning, you'll need your best secateurs and best gardening gloves to make the job easier. Removing overlapping branches of your apple tree and opening up space will help light to reach the whole tree. 

With a bit of luck, it'll bear plenty of fruit come spring.

Millie Hurst
Millie Hurst

Millie Hurst has worked in digital journalism for five years, having previously worked as a Senior SEO Editor at News UK both in London and New York. She joined the Future team in early 2021, working across several brands, including Gardeningetc. Now, she is Senior Content Editor at Ideal Home, taking care of evergreen articles aimed at inspiring people to make the most of their homes and outdoor spaces.