Spanish Bush Method of Pruning Cherry Trees 5

This cherry tree is on a full-sized rootstock. I’m using the Spanish bush method of pruning to keep it small and compact.

I usually advocate for planting fruit trees on dwarfing rootstock (with the exception of citrus). Until recent years, there were no dwarfing rootstocks available for cherries. Most cherry trees in backyard orchards have been planted on full sized rootstocks. These trees are likely to have vigorous growth and grow into very large trees. One of the traditional ways to keep these trees small is using a method called Spanish bush pruning. I recently pruned my cherry tree and created a short video to explain this method.

Essentially, you want to ensure that each branch is tipped pruned to around 30cm long. This may mean that you need to prune the tree several times per year. The ultimate aim is a small, very dense and bushy tree that will be very productive.

Check out my comprehensive fruit tree pruning guide for more information on pruning fruit trees, preventing disease and what are the best tools for pruning fruit trees.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

5 thoughts on “Spanish Bush Method of Pruning Cherry Trees

  • Pauline Webb

    Hello Duncan, we are removing a dwarf Cherry and a quince tree. Each has borer in the trunk and a pile of sawdust beneath the holes. I presume the ground will also be contaminated with pupae or grubs as they hatch. How long do we need to leave the soil with no tree before planting something else?

    Kind Regards,


    • Leaf, Root & Fruit Post author

      Hi Pauline,

      That’s a shame. It’s actually the larvae stage that does the damage to the tree. I’m just not sure if they drop into the soil to pupate or stay in the trunk to do this. Fortunately, I have no experience with with borers in fruit trees, so am not sure what to advise you. If you are in suburbia then chances they will come from elsewhere. Perhaps plant a different type of tree in their place?

      Good luck!


    • Leaf, Root & Fruit Post author

      Hi Catherine,

      you could try. However, cherries are prone to diseases caused by pruning. So I’d focus on great tool hygiene. A heavy prune at that stage in its life is likely to result in a tailspin of even more vigour, regardless of the pruning technique that follows. There’s quite a few other considerations to throw into the mix, but that worthy of a whole day workshop or rather lengthy blog post in itself!

      Happy gardening