Pruning & transplanting a plum tree


Pruning & transplanting a plum tree

I have a plum tree I planted 1.5 years ago. I plan to move it this coming winter and want to prune it back at the same time. Is there a special type of prune I should do prior to moving it and how long before the move should do this?

Plum trees lose their leaves before many other deciduous trees (both fruiting and non-fruiting). When all the leaves have fallen and growth has ceased, it is safe to prune and transplant your plum tree.

Pruning your tree
If plum trees are pruned too early while there are still leaves on the tree and warm weather persists, they can start growing again - even in April! Aim to develop a strong, sturdy framework when pruning your plum tree. Prune to encourage three to five main leaders (main branches) and remove all very thin growth and any inward-growing branches. Plum trees can become quite large if left unpruned.

Preparing your tree
After completing your pruning its time to dig up the tree. Try and take as much of the trees root system as possible - plums do have a vigorous root system, so this could be quite a challenge! Then shorten back some of the main roots where they are more than 600mm (60cm) long. While you prepare the new site for planting, it’s a good idea to soak the tree in Garden Time Seafeed – this will lessen transplant shock and help the tree recover faster.

Prepare the site for the new plum tree before transplanting. 

  1. Dig a hole twice as wide and as deep as the tree's root ball. It's best to plant the tree with the base of its stem slightly above ground level – so adjust the depth of your hole accordingly. Doing this prevents water from pooling around the trunk later on, which can lead to rot.
  2. Add generous amounts of Daltons Garden Time Compost or Enriched Garden Mix into the hole and mix in well, then add two Daltons Premium Planter Tabs to give the tree the best start.
  3. Improve drainage by creating a mound at the bottom of the hole in the middle where the root ball will sit.
  4. Place the tree in the hole and fill around the root ball with remaining compost/mix and existing soil and pat it to make it compact and firm. 
  5. Finish with a good layer of Premium Mulch and Grow around the base of a tree to help to regulate the temperature of the soil, keeping it warmer in cold weather and cooler in hot weather. This is particularly important for young trees, which are more vulnerable to temperature fluctuations.
  6. Water thoroughly. Tip: Use the Seafeed water your tree was soaking in.


Plums typically transplant very well, so expect healthy new growth in the spring!

To see fruit tree planting in action, watch our video here:

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