Pruning Cuts Explained + How To Prune Feijoas

Before you prune anything, I want you to understand two types of pruning cuts. What a difference to your fruit trees when you give up heading and get thinning!

Excerpt from ” Pruning Fruit Trees: A Beginners Guide

types of cuts

Two Types of Pruning Cuts

Thinning is the removal of a whole shoot or branch, taking it back to its point of origin. The majority of your cuts should be thinning cuts, which makes for a lovely open tree – light pours in, and air flows.

Light thinning invigorates a tree, encouraging plenty of gentle new shoots and buds. A regular supply of new shoots provides options for renewal, a fruit tree’s version of insurance in future fruits.

Heading is to shorten a shoot, a branch or a leader. Use this type of cut to stop growth (e.g., the branch is too high or in the way of the mower), or redirect growth (e.g.,to send a branch outward) or to stimulate spurs on laterals.

Understand this − a headed back shoot will fork. Heavy-handed heading can stunt your tree and make it twiggy.

How To Prune Feijoas


A well pruned Feijoa – compact and you can see through the canopy.

If you prune your feijoa annually – you’ll find there’s not much to do. A lovely, feet on the ground job. I like to prune my feijoa’s right after harvest.

Don’t remove more than a quarter of the canopy. Stack up your pruning’s beside the tree so you can keep it real about how much you’ve taken off.

Clean Up First

Remove dead, damaged, crossing and vertical wood.

Remove all the low wood to give your feijoa a clear trunk, for healthy airflow and easy access to the fallen fruits which are so much better than the picked ones.

Mostly Thinning Cuts

Use mostly thinning cuts to produce an open canopy for good light penetration and access for bird and bee pollinators. You should be able to kind of see through the canopy to the other side, for a vague idea of whats behind.

Thinning cuts stimulate a heap of replacement wood – important because feijoas fruit on the base of the new wood. A cycle of fresh wood coming on each season means you can keep your tree compact yet productive.

When choosing which shoots to thin, take the tallest shoots. This makes you a bit of a smarty pants – thinning and height/ width management all in one go! Remove also the leggy ones that have miles of bare wood before the foliage starts. The bare wood is unproductive and the fruits too far away.

Leave plenty of young new shoots for next years fruits.

A Little Heading

Finish off with a few heading cuts for height and width management. Take it easy on those heading cuts to avoid
losing too many fruits next year.

Feijoa Restoration

To bring those wild, crazy trees back to ground, you’ve got two possible roads before you.

The slow, careful, considered one – which on the whole is the way I go – of bringing the tree back over a few years. Only remove about 1/4 of the canopy at a time, to keep the tree calm and steady and fruiting.

Or go for the more direct approach and chop off the top of the feijoa to a height that’s reachable. (Pretty much my golden rule, all my fruit trees are as tall as my reach with the loppers). That’s it for now, that one dramatic chop. Do more and you’ll really freak the tree out. Then in late spring/ early summer, do your thinning work.

Big bold moves with fruit trees, result in big bold reactions. Light crops and a lot of shoots the following season are highly likely reactions here.

Both ways work. Which one suits your mood is the thing.

Like what you saw?

Jump on over to check out details on Pruning Fruit Trees: A Beginners Guide and grab yourself a copy.


  1. keryn morten says:

    You are great, I loved your session on Kim’s programme this morning and have read your work here, all the best to you. Keryn Morten – The Garden Planning Company

  2. Sharon Wickham says:

    Thank you Kath,
    I am in the middle of pruning my feijoa,the lower branches only and was not sure what to do next.
    Your information has been very helpful.

  3. Thank you Kath,
    The book looks fantastic! I have a Monty’s Surprise apple tree planted last winter. Its grown three equal, strong shoots from hip height. They are practically vertical and are now 7 foot high. Thanks to you I’ve just learned that I should have pulled two of them horizontal to start a single leader / scaffold shape. Oh well! Could I still do this in June? It seems supple to me, its still growing new leaves!. (I’m in Auckland); Should I wait till spring? Or is it too late to change them and I’ll have to cut them off? Appreciate your comments – thanks again,

    • Never too late Maggie! Yes you definately want to pull them horizontal or close too – and yes you are right Montys keeps her flexibility year round – feel it and trust your instincts here. If you need to remove one of them because they are too close to each other then be brave and do it!

  4. Hey Kath, just wondering: I’ve just planted a couple of feijoa trees, should I leave any pruning until next year, give them a chance to get their roots in the ground this year? They are about 6″ tall and both propagates from cuttings by the look of them.
    Thanks in advance,

    • Hey Will, yes no need to prune them this year. The only reason to prune at this stage is to balance things out a bit – say if one side is out of beat with the other for instance. Depending on pace of growth it may be year 3 until they need a prune. Hope this helps! Kath

  5. Kathy Cambridge says:

    Hi Kath, Many thanks for your great posts.. Jason Ross is a great believer in summer pruning of pip fruit as he thinks winter pruning causes a lot of vegetative growth. What is your view please? thanks, Kathy