Monty Don warns against pruning your winter fruit trees now – here’s why

The garden expert urges you to ask yourself these questions before pruning – for abundant growth later in the year

Fruit tree with red apples
(Image credit: GettyImages)

Gardening guru Monty Don may have pruning at the top of his January job list – but he warns that now is not the best time for everybody to follow suit. 

The BBC Gardeners' World presenter has shared a list of questions that all green-thumbed enthusiasts should ask themselves this January – and your answers reveal whether you should prune or wait until a later date.

So, should you begin pruning this month? Sharing his garden ideas in his blog, Monty reveals the answer. 

This is when to prune your winter fruit trees, according to Monty Don

Monty Don in a garden

(Image credit: Alistair Heap / Alamy Stock Photo)

For the garden expert, pruning is his ‘big January job’ that he aims to finish before the month concludes. However, now may not be the best time for everybody. Instead, Monty Don recommends trying to ‘understand how something grows before pruning.’ 

Does it flower on new or old wood? Does it grow new shoots in a great post-flowering burst, or do they steadily emerge over the season?’ Monty asks. However, that is not the only qualification you should check. Instead, the expert continues:

‘Does a fruit tree need to achieve a certain maturity to create spurs that bear fruit, or will they be produced in the first year of growth? Does the plant heal well, or is it, like cherries and plums, a bleeder – and if so, when does it produce [the] least sap? 

Fruit tree with red apples

(Image credit: GettyImages)

If you question any of the above, Monty warns against cutting. He adds that you will never hinder your plants by waiting – ‘and patience in a garden is a great virtue.’

However, Monty’s country garden ideas don’t end there. The expert similarly warns that if you prune an apple tree too intensely in January, it will lead to a lack of fruit later in the year. 

‘This cycle is often perpetuated by even harder pruning the following year – to get rid of all that new, fruitless growth, which, having lots of lovely succulent sap, will attract aphids and fungal disease,’ he explains. Therefore, if you are looking for the best fruit tree advice, it may be to stay away from the shears. 

Close-Up Of Apricot Tree

(Image credit: GettyImages)

‘Over-zealous and mistimed pruning people often ruin their fruit trees,’ Monty adds.

Will you be pruning over the coming days? We’ll be sure to assess our answer after following this garden expert’s guidelines.  

Megan Slack
Head of Celebrity Style News

Megan is the Head of Celebrity Style News at Homes & Gardens. She first joined Future Plc as a News Writer across their interiors titles, including Livingetc and Real Homes, before becoming H&G's News Editor in April 2022. She now leads the Celebrity/ News team. Before joining Future, Megan worked as a News Explainer at The Telegraph, following her MA in International Journalism at the University of Leeds. During her BA in English Literature and Creative Writing, she gained writing experience in the US while studying in New York. Megan also focused on travel writing during her time living in Paris, where she produced content for a French travel site. She currently lives in London with her antique typewriter and an expansive collection of houseplants.