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Pruning spindlebush crab-apple trees


I took delivery last week of the above order - bareroot crab apple, Professor Sprenger, on M9, spindle. It arrived in very good condition, looks very healthy and I planted it the same day. Please could you send me some guidance on the pruning of a spindle? I have the small RHS book Essential Pruning and Training but it does not include spindles. I know how to prune cordons, but I am really not sure about a spindle, especially this one, which has already reached the height you indicated it would after 10 years. Obviously hard pruning is needed, but any guidance would be good, not just for now, but for future years. Appletreeman has guidance online, but this seems to apply to eating apples, involving tying down of branches to maximise cropping. That's not what I envisaged. I'd like a neat conical shape, roughly, with blossom and fruit on relatively short laterals.


Asked by: Jacqueline from Glasgow, 14-Mar-2023


Hi Jacqueline This tree is likely to reach 2.5m in the longer term. The way spindlebush trees are grown at the nursery encourages the platform of nicely-spaced laterals that you can see in the centre of the tree.

These lateral shoots do not need tying down, because they are already near-horizontal.

You are correct that most guidance on training spindlebushes will relate to fruiting apples rather than crab-apples. Crab-apples naturally produce lots of blossom and fruitlets anyway, so there won't be much you need to do in this regard.

No major pruning is needed at this stage and you should not need to hard-prune. The RHS Pruning and Training guide (Brickell) has a nice section on spindlebushes.

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