Pruning Flowering Plum Trees and Discouraging Slugs


Q: I have an established flowering plum that i have tried to prune once a couple of years ago to give it a better shape, as it was tallish in the middle and looked strange. As a result, it shot up long thin shoots, and I can see now, why it had the shape it did when I bought the place. I realise air and space in the middle is good, but it’s actually a bit too bare, I think. How can I prune it so as to get rid of these and avoid them in the future, as well as to thicken up the middle a little?

Lastly, it gets attacked by slugs, and i’m not always there to spray “success” (or when I am, it’s often raining) so is there anything else I can do to reduce the slug risk?

Remove only about 15 to 20 percent by volume of vegetation at any given time when pruning. This gradual process may take up to two or more seasons to accomplish.

Avoid doing all your pruning at once during the winter months. Consider doing most of your pruning during the summer months, just as the new growth is starting to harden off, with just a bit during the winter months. This should reduce the number of “water sprouts” (very long succulent shoots). Pruning should mainly involve some thinning out, and cutting back on existing branches should thicken up the middle of the tree.

It should be noted slugs and snails tend to migrate toward moisture locations. There is a fine balance between pruning for shape and maintaining an open canopy to allow a drier situation to discourage these predators. I am not aware of slug and snail damage as being a common problem on flowering plum (Prunus cv.). Damage is more likely caused by caterpillar damage from spanworm (Operophtera spp.).