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How do you prune Damson trees?

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Quick Answer

A modified central leader system, which is evenly spaced lateral branches coming from a main trunk, is the best shape for a Damson plum. Any dead and diseased branches must be removed, and suckers should be snapped off the roots or trunk of the tree. The trunk is then cut just above the top branch when the tree reaches the desired height. Pruning the top branches each year maintains the height.

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With a height and spread of 10 to 20 feet, the Damson plum produces a large yield of tart fruit used for cooking and preserving. Damson varieties include Shropshire, Merryweather, Blue Violet and French Damson. Growing best in hardiness zones 5 through 7 in full sun, a mature Damson plum yields between 3 and 5 bushels of plums. Harvesting the plums is carried out in the fall when the color changes to a deep blue, purple or black color and the plums develop a powdery look with soft flesh.

Though Damson plums contain both male and female flowers, planting a second tree nearby increases the yield. Best results occur when the second tree is a different European variety of plum that blooms at the same time. Japanese plums bloom at a different time than European varieties and are not a good choice for cross pollination.

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