Jujube trees are described as being precocious growers, meaning they can put on a lot of new growth in a single year. Most Jujube trees are also heavy croppers, so it can be disheartening if half the fruit is out of reach. For this reason, it’s best to keep your Jujube tree well pruned each year to maintain a manageable size and make the fruit easy to harvest. Here we will look at how to prune a Jujube tree to keep it under control.
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How And When To Prune Jujube Tree?
Where some fruit trees benefit from little pruning, the Jujube tree will need some annual attention to keep it from getting too large.
Pruning is usually done once the leaves have fallen from the tree in early winter and before the new buds burst in spring. Ideally, the tree should be completely dormant.
It can sometimes be helpful to give a second light pruning in early spring before the blossoms appear if it has already put on a lot of growth.
Summer pruning is effective for thinning overcrowded branches that have sprouted new shoots or cutting out any diseased or damaged wood and suckers.
- Sturdy gloves – Jujube trees can be thorny
- Safety goggles
- Tough, long-sleeved clothing and long pants, boots, or sensible shoes
- Sharp, clean cutting tools – pruners, loppers, pruning saw
- Rubbing alcohol
- Clean rags
To get your young Jujube to produce fruit as quickly as possible, careful pruning is necessary.
You can safely cut 20% to 50% of a young Jujube tree without causing it harm.
Jujube are prone to producing suckers, and these should be removed as soon as they appear.
You are ideally looking to remove any crossed, overlapping, or dense branches that reduce the amount of light that can penetrate through the tree’s canopy.
Step By Step Process:
Maintaining good ventilation is also important to help protect against fungal diseases.
- Start by ensuring all of your pruning tools are clean and sharp. You should wipe the blades with a rag dipped in rubbing alcohol to help keep things sterile and prevent spreading disease through your tree.
- Be sure to select the best tool for the size of the branch you are going to cut. Thin branches can be removed easily with pruners, but as soon as the diameter gets bigger, you’ll need to switch to loppers or even a pruning saw.
- A pole pruner can be used for particularly spiny varieties of Jujube trees, especially when cutting the interior branches.
- Remove any suckers from around the trunk or that can also appear several feet away from the tree. If you don’t remove them, they can quickly become established in your lawn.
- Now look for and remove any broken, damaged, or diseased branches.
- Next, cut out any thin, overlapping, or close-growing branches or twigs.
- Keep stepping away from the tree and looking at the overall shape and where things look too bunched up. You want to open things up.
- Cut the ends off very long branches to bring them back to a better length. Also, cut back any secondary branches growing from them.
- Try to encourage the weeping habit of the tree as this makes picking fruit easier than when branches are growing straight up.
- Ideally, you want four of five primary branches coming from the trunk at a reasonably open-angle and not too close together. On these should be secondary branches that are again not too close and growing outwards.
- Getting this basic framework in place when the tree is young will make pruning as it gets older much easier. Overall, create a pleasing open shape.
In this video, you can see how to do a winter pruning on some young Jujube trees:
How Big Will A Jujube Tree Grow?
Jujube trees can reach heights of around 30 to 40 feet depending on the cultivar, climate, and growing conditions. There are some varieties available that don’t grow so tall and may be better suited to smaller yards.
You can limit the size of your Jujube with regular pruning.
How Tall Is A 2-Year-Old Jujube Tree?
The height your Jujube reaches each year will depend on a number of factors.
- Variety of Jujube trees. If grown on a dwarfing rootstock, the tree will grow proportionately less each year than a tree grown on a standard rootstock.
- Growing conditions include soil, water, food, and climate.
- Pruning can be used to limit the height of the tree, and if you made a heading cut when you planted your young Jujube, then it is likely to be smaller than if you didn’t.
As a rough guide, a young Jujube will usually grow at a rate of around 4 feet to 6 feet per year when it is young. It will take approximately 30 years to reach its mature height. So a two-year-old Jujube tree will generally be about 8 feet tall.
How To Train A Jujube Tree?
Training your Jujube fruit trees while they are young is essential if you want to achieve the right shape. Different forms include:
- Central leader – which has the main trunk growing up through the center of the tree with scaffolding branches coming off from it.
- Modified leader – where the central leader has been topped off above the main scaffolding branches.
- Open center – this is when the central leader is completely removed low down, and several scaffolding branches that are growing out at an open angle are selected as the main structure.
- Graduated open center – this is like the open center, only the scaffolding branches are further apart up the trunk of the tree, which makes them stronger and less likely to snap off when the tree gets a little older.
The natural growth habit of a young Jujube is to grow upward towards the stars! They can put on a lot of vertical growth from their central leader in one year.
They don’t usually grow many side branches.
If the central leader is cut, then another branch will usually grow from just below the cut in the next growing season. If this branch is then tipped, the tree is stimulated to develop a new strong branch from somewhere else on the tree.
This can be used to your advantage to stimulate new primary branches up the trunk. Be aware that they too will initially want to grow vertically, and this can form a very closed crotch angle to the trunk, which will make the branch weak as it grows, and break off.
Weighing Down Branches
When the branch is still young and flexible, it can be weighted down to encourage a more open crotch angle.
The best way to do this is to put something heavy on the ground and then, using twine, tie the branch down to the angle you want it to grow at.
Don’t wrap the twine tightly around the branch. Instead, make a loop in the twine, then put the end over the branch and tie this back to the loop.
Over several years, you can train your Jujube to the desired shape. This can include a central leader or may be in an open vase shape, which is ideal for Jujube if you want to keep them from growing too tall.
You want around four to six primary branches that come from the trunk in a spiral, so they are well spaced with no branch being directly over another. This allows lots of light to penetrate and air to circulate.
- Year one – when the tree is dormant, cut the central leader to about two to three feet. If there is a strong branch, or branches coming out below this that are at or can be trained to be at an open angle, leave them in place and remove everything else.
- Year two – In the winter, cut the end off the new primary branch that grew over the previous summer. Look at how other branches you left in place last year grew and decide if they are good enough to retain as a main scaffolding branch. If not, remove them.
- Year two – In the summer, look at the new branch growth. If the primary branch that is growing is at a closed angle, weigh it down.
- Year three – In winter cut the end off of the primary branch to again stimulate growth from elsewhere to develop in the spring.
- Year three – In summer, look at the established branches and new branches, remembering you are trying to grow them in a spiral around the trunk with an open vase shape. Remove any branches that are growing inwards or with very closed angles unless you can open them up by weighing them down.
- Continued pruning – Once you have your scaffolding branches in place, prune to maintain the open shape.
If you live in a slightly colder climate or if space is limited, you may opt to train your Jujube against a south-facing wall to increase warmth, which will help with fruiting. Alternatively, you may want to grow it along wires, so it can be kept very confined.
The most familiar shapes to train a Jujube in this way are Y, pillar, espalier, spindle, and dwarf pyramid.
The Jujube growth habit can be a little tricky to begin with, as it wants to grow straight upwards when it is young.
By spending time each year to get a good graduated open vase shape, you can keep the tree at a controlled height and ensure that light and air can penetrate and circulate. This is important for the health of the tree and the ripening of the fruits.
Once the shape of the tree is established, as it gets older, it will naturally take on an attractive weeping form.
If you’re interested in learning more about growing and taking care of Jujube trees, please refer to our other articles. We also have information on a huge range of interesting subjects available on our blog.