Mirabelles belong to the plum species. The trees usually grow sprawling and shrubby. So that Prunus domestica subsp. syriaca offers long-lasting good yields, the tree needs the right care as well as the right pruning. If pruning errors are caused or the annual pruning is omitted entirely, then this is at the expense of the development of flowers, and the harvest is lower. Therefore, special attention should be paid to the time of cutting and the cutting technique.

types of cuts

Mirabelle trees have the property of growing quickly and spreading widely. But for a good harvest, the tree needs regular pruning at the right time. It is particularly important to pay attention to the different cutting techniques. There are a total of five of these pruning techniques for the plum tree, which are explained in detail in the article below. Because here it is important to note what the purpose of the individual cut is. It is also important to choose the right tool so that Prunus domestica subsp. syriaca takes no damage from cutting. This should be done according to the following guide.

Required tool

It is important to choose the right tool so that plants and trees are not damaged when cutting. Above all, this must also be sharp and clean so that the cut does not inflict larger wounds on the tree than necessary. Therefore, when choosing the tool for all pruning techniques in the plum tree, you should pay attention to the following:

  • sturdy gardening gloves for your own protection
  • Ladder for tall trees
  • Pruning or rosette shears for thin branches
  • Pruning or tree saw for thicker branches
  • a sharp knife to smooth the edges of the wound
  • Make sure all tools are sharp
  • possibly make a test cut
  • Clean and disinfect blades before use
  • Disinfection with pure alcohol from the pharmacy
  • alternatively disinfectant from the garden trade


Mirabelle plums may not be pruned at any time of the year. The tree should not be pruned during dormancy, as is usual with other fruit trees. When cutting in winter, there is a risk that the cuts will heal too slowly and poorly. This increases the risk of bark disease. Pests, bacteria, viruses and fungi can also penetrate more easily with slow healing and damage the tree overall. In addition, persistent frost in the winter months can severely affect the tissue below the interfaces. Therefore, the following times are ideal for pruning a plum tree:

  • in the spring
  • select the months of March and April
  • ideal time for heavier pruning
  • in summer
  • in the months of June and July
  • make another slight clearing cut

Maintenance, training, fruiting and rejuvenation pruning are usually more severe pruning, ideally done in the spring. The topiary, on the other hand, is only a light clearing cut that can also be carried out in summer.

Note: Did you know that Mirabelle plums develop long and strong branches if they are not pruned? These also bear a lot of fruit, but can quickly break under the load. In addition, these branches will age after four to five years without pruning.


The topiary serves the purpose of creating the basic structure of the tree. Depending on the gardener’s wishes, this can be a half-stem or standard. In this way, the plum tree can be formed into a tall tree or a small shrub-like tree. Attention should be paid to the following:

  • Topiary when planting the tree
  • good root-to-crown ratio
  • also shorten roots slightly if necessary
  • Cut back the crown by a third
Idea: In order for your plum tree to get the right shape, you can have this first cut done at the tree nursery where you bought your new tree. Thanks to the experience of the employees there, your Mirabelle plum tree will be given the desired shape straight away.

fruit woodcut

The fruit wood pruning is intended to ensure that many new young shoots with flowers can form and thus the yield can be increased. This cut is always used when the tree is growing strongly, but is hardly producing any buds from which flowers and fruits can later develop. In such a case, only leaf buds will grow on woody shoots. In order to restore the correct relationship on the tree, the following procedure should be followed when pruning fruit wood:

  • pruning strong mirabelle trees only moderately
  • weak tree stronger
  • Fruit wood hangs down over time
  • hanging branches receive less nutrients and water
  • then new shoots take over the functions of the fruit wood
  • new shoots appear at the apex of the fruiting wood
  • Cut back the old fruit branch up to the new shoot

education cut

A stable basic structure is to be created with the training pattern. It is important to ensure that the tree is built from a main trunk with skeletal branches and fruit branches. Here, between three and four leading branches should be arranged evenly on the middle shoot, which are at an ideal angle of about 45°. Six to eight side shoots then go from here. The following instructions must therefore be observed when training the cut:

  • first training cut immediately after planting
  • ideally right after flowering
  • then in the following four to five years
  • Shorten the leading branches by a third
  • The tips of the shoots end just below the tip of the trunk
  • last eye should face outwards
  • remove excess shoots
  • likewise all water shoots from the middle
  • Remove shoots below leading branches
  • Leave the main shoot untouched

maintenance cut

The maintenance or clearing cut in Prunus domestica subsp. syriaca is supposed to ensure that the tree keeps its shape. This cut also works against senescence of shoots and compaction of the crown. This is important so that all Mirabelle plum flowers and fruits receive enough light. The maintenance cut is only used after the training cut, which is carried out over five years. This means that the maintenance pruning replaces the training pruning on the older tree, the two types of pruning are not carried out at the same time. Ideally, the maintenance cut should be done as follows:

  • Cut dead shoots from the crown
  • Remove inward growing shoots
  • Remove shots of water from the middle
  • take the power out of the tree
  • have no function
  • usually cut after flowering
  • this allows new fruit wood to form
Tip: Large cuts of more than 20 millimeters should be treated afterwards. To do this, smooth the edges of the wound with a sharp, disinfected knife and then coat them with tree wax. The cut itself is dusted with charcoal ash or rock flour. The wound should not be completely sealed, otherwise rot could form inside.

taper cut

Rejuvenation pruning is a vigorous pruning of an older tree that should be done in the spring. A Mirabelle plum tree that has not been pruned for many years should be pruned vigorously in order to be able to form new shoots again. The aim here is that the crown becomes airy and loose again and the tree thus develops new flowers and fruits again. Before cutting according to the following instructions, the appearance of the later crown should be carefully considered. A carelessly scheduled cut cannot be corrected later. The tapering cut should therefore be proceeded as follows:

  • remove all branches that disturb the harmony
  • Cutting down to the old wood is permitted
  • Remove dead branches completely
  • Also cut branches that grow into the crown
  • Cut out water shoots
Tip: assume that severe pruning of Prunus domestica subsp. syriaca also causes strong shoots. If, on the other hand, you only make a weaker cut, you will only get more buds from which only weak shoots will develop. This results in an irregular crown. Therefore, you should always cut the entire crown with the taper cut.

cutting error

There are typical mistakes when pruning plum trees that should be avoided at all costs. Because Prunus domestica subsp. syriaca not only forms new branches and shoots in the crown, but also directly on the roots. These shoots must also be cut back to the trunk, otherwise they will compete with the fruit-bearing shoots, which will then yield less because the tree first puts its energy into these lower shoots. The following cutting errors can also occur with all types of cutting and should be avoided:

  • improper sawing or cutting of the branches
  • never cut down to astring
  • round bulge at the transition from trunk to branch
  • do not injure the branch
  • Start the saw just in front of this bulge
  • never cut directly above or too close to a leaf bud
  • do not leave any knots
  • upright growing side shoots
  • break off too easily
Note: If you cut a heavy branch, you should always leave it at 20 centimeters first. Then saw off the end piece from below up to a third and then completely from above. This will prevent the branch from tearing out while cutting and forming a large wound.

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