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Bending Fruit Tree Branches – When, How To, And Why?

Gardening can be fun; however, it's serious science that helps you understand the specific mode of pruning and handling fruit trees. If you have heard of bending fruit tree branches, you might wonder why, when, or how to do it. You are in the right place as we've inquired from experts and got informative answers.

Fruit tree branches are bent to increase fruit, eliminate sick branches and regulate growth. Branch bending can be done in the cold months when the tree isn't bearing fruit and is dormant. You can use weights or limb spreaders at the base of each branch.

Does it sound complicated or straightforward? Either way, continue reading to discover what the experts mean and how to go about it. 

An old man binding fruit cherry branches to the ground and pruning them, Bending Fruit Tree Branches - When, How To, And Why?

Bending Fruit Tree Branches

Whether growing fruit trees for commercial or personal consumption, you want to see them have fruit. However, you don't have to be an expert to know the ropes of growing fruitful trees. 

Before you bend every fruit tree branch around, you'll need to understand how, when, and why. 

Why Bend Fruit Tree Branches

Ripe pears on a tree branch in a summer garden

You'll need to train any fruit tree to flourish and bear healthy fruit. Training your fruit tree branches means bending the tender branches to:

  • Spread the new shoots to ensure some branches won't have more fruits than others.
  • Spread the older branches to increase fruits on them.
  • Ensure that each tree branch gets enough sunlight for active growth.
  • Ensures the fruit tree remains manageable throughout its fruit-bearing period.
  • It slows down the growth and calms the tree. Reduce excessive vegetation on the tree to allow more fruit buds to appear.

When To Bend Fruit Tree Branches

Now that you know why you should bend fruit tree branches, the next step is understanding when to do so. Experts advise bending the fruit trees:

  • During the warm weather, when the tree has intensive growth.
  • When tree branches are one or two years old, older tree branches might snap easily when bent.

How To Bend Fruit Tree Branches

Finally, you are ready to start bending the branches on your apple or pear fruit trees. Bending a fruit tree branch shouldn't be done all willy-nilly. You might have fruit trees that are not as young; thus, take extra care.

The procedure is straightforward. 

  • Bend the branches at a 45 or 60-degree angle. Be gentle with older branches and bend them only as far as possible.
  • Use twine with weights at the end to secure the branches. Alternatively, tie the twine without weights on the stem of the tree.

Check out this jute twine for gardening on Amazon.

  • You can also use notched limb spreaders. For more effectiveness, place them at the base of the branch.

Here are plastic limb spreaders on Amazon.

Please ensure the twine doesn't cut into the branches as this can damage them. 

Here's a short tutorial on how to weigh down the fruit tree branches without damaging or breaking them.

Which Direction Should You Bend Fruit Tree Branches?

First, look at how your fruit tree branches grow. Then bend the branches in the direction of the crotch of the branch.

Where you have a weak crotch, don't weaken it further by bending the branches downwards. Bend the branches sideways to save the fruit branch. The maximum angle advised is not more than 60 degrees. 

The branches should not be horizontal to the growth as this will suppress their growth and fruit-bearing capabilities. Branches bent below the horizontal have less vegetation, and most of the buds help the tree become more productive.

How Long Can You Bend A Branches

Bending a fruit tree branch mimics fruit-bearing, which tricks the tree into storing lignin at the base of the bent branch. To ensure the branch stores enough lignin, it has to bend for at least two weeks. Most times, the branch will be wholly influenced by the third week, and you can now remove any twine or ropes.

How To Support Fruit Tree Branches

Once fruit trees have been pruned on time and properly nurtured, they will start bearing fruit. You might have fruit in abundance, and the fruit branches will start hanging over.

The fruit tree branches will need support. It would help if you used stakes and pegs to support the branches. The size of stakes to use depends on the height of the fruit tree in question.

How To Take Care Of Fruit-Bearing Trees

Provide the best care for fruit-bearing trees in all their growth stages. Additionally, they make your property more attractive and add value to it. Use the following tips to care for orange, apple, or pear trees.

Research

Not all trees will fair well in your vicinity. Therefore, before you settle on any fruit tree, do thorough research for a fruitful endeavor. 

Soil Type

Fruit trees need soil rich in nutrients as well as well-drained. In the early stages, prepare the soil and enrich it thoroughly for the seedlings to increase and be healthy. Mushy and swampy areas are not ideal for planting fruit trees.

Light & Spacing

Fruit trees love ample sunlight and enough spacing. Don't plant them too close to shrubs and bushes. Neither should the area have grass to avoid competition for nutrients.

Check Up

Watering the fruit trees is vital at the early stages. Watch out for fungal infections and pests that might destroy the tree and its fruit. 

Maintenance

Pruning and branch bending are ways to increase your harvest. Gardeners must do this regularly to ensure a constant abundance of harvest. Don't skip or ignore these steps if you don't want your trees to die.

Expert Help

Generally, if you know nothing about fruit trees, seek an expert's services.

Laziness will make your fruit trees suffer and make you continue buying fruits from the store even with fruit trees in your back yard.

How Pruning Helps Fruit Trees

Intersect fruit tree

Pruning is not a complicated process; any first-time fruit tree grower can master it in a short period. All trees need pruning; the following steps apply to most fruit-bearing trees. Pruning helps:

  • Clean up the tree by removing sprouts on various parts of the tree. Cut any dead wood to create room for young, vigorous tree fruits that can bear fruit.
  • Create light by cutting out multiple branches growing from one point.
  • Lastly, cut the longer tree branches to thicken them. Thicker and shorter stems are sturdier and can hold fruit.

Ensure that you use sharp and clean shears for pruning. When you finish pruning your fruit trees, clean the area of any debris, such as diseased branches.

Have a look at these pruning shears on Amazon.

Repairing Broken Fruit Tree Branches

Inoculating trees with insulating tape in spring

Branches can break due to heavy fruit in any given season. Moreso, animals or people can accidentally damage the branches. 

Either way, the broken branches need repair if possible to do so. If the branch has a severe break, it might be irreparable. Remove entire branches that have been affected by any disease. 

Repairable tree branches are those that have broken all through the wood. You can tie the split using anything handy. Use rope, cable ties, budding tape, or string depending on the size and location of the split.

Have a look at this plant binding tape on Amazon.

Leave the bind on the fruit tree branch for a few months before it merges entirely. But remember to keep an eye on the branch to avoid the rope or tape getting too tight. Finally, thin the branch to reduce the fruit if the bind was successful.

How To Choose Fruit Trees For Your Locality

Apple trees with ripe red fruit in the farm ochard

Different fruit trees fair differently in other climatic regions. Whether you want an orchid or a few random trees in your yard, you should know which fruit trees will survive in your vicinity.

These are the factors you must countercheck for any specific variety of the fruit tree you choose.

  1. The fruit tree rootstock size. These are different sizes of trees that can be grown in the garden or in containers.
  2. Find out if you need a pollinator for your fruit trees. Alternatively, choose fruit trees that don't need other trees for pollination if you have limited space in your garden.
  3. All locality has diseases that affect fruit trees, causing them not to bear fruits. Therefore, pick varieties resistant to most diseases for more accessible care.
  4. Each fruit tree has chill hours it can handle and still bloom on time. Bear this in mind when choosing any fruit tree variety if you don't want your fruit tree to bloom at the wrong time.

With proper soil drainage and enough natural light, fruit trees grow healthy.

Bottomline

We have clarified in this post why you need to bend fruit branches if it has never been clear prior. Once you do it correctly, you will have more healthy fruit. 

Ideally, bend and prune tree branches simultaneously. This way, you get rid of all sick and frail branches, increase light around the branches, and the fruit tree is a manageable size.

If you have found some inspiration for fruit tree planting, here are more posts to point you in the right direction.

How Deep Should A Fruit Tree Be Planted?

15 Fruit Trees With Non-Invasive Roots

11 Great Fruit Trees For Zone 5