Main forms of cultivation of fruit plants

During the first four or five years after the planting of fruit plants, pruning interventions aim to orient the plants towards the desired adult forms, and for this reason we speak of breeding pruning. In the following years, with the production size, the established form will be constantly maintained.

For different species of fruit trees, there are different ways to reproduce. A common distinction is between bulk and flattened shapes. In the first, the plant develops in all directions: height, width and uniform thickness; in the second, the height and the width are privileged, and the thickness is limited to the maximum.

The choice of cultivation method must take into account several factors: first, the type of rootstock chosen, which determines the volume of the plant. Second, the convenience of the grower: in the commercial orchard, the most functional form is sought for the work to be done, thus facilitating the harvest. The aesthetic aspect is rather an important criterion for those who have a small allotment garden, or simply a few fruit trees in the garden.

Contents [Ocultar]

  • volume forms

  • brooch and brooch

  • Long tail for the apple tree

  • Vase

  • Ball

  • flattened shapes

  • Palmette

  • String

  • Pergola, awning and double pergola


volume forms

brooch and brooch

the pruned plant It has a single central stem from which emerge many side branches with a height of 50 cm. The side branches have a decreasing length from the base upwards, so that the plant takes on a conical shape. This is the mode of cultivation generally used for apple and pear trees, which in these cases reach heights of around 2 to 3 meters, making cultivation operations easily manageable from the ground. In the intensive commercial honey house, the plants are grown on a spindle or “spinel” , an even more contained form, which involves the use of dwarf rootstocks that give the plant a reduced size and an early entry into production. The plants grow very densely, spaced about 2 meters apart in rows 3 or 4 meters apart. The limit of this form of cultivation is that the apple trees grafted on these fragile rootstocks with a superficial root system are weakly anchored to the ground and require a support system made up of concrete posts and metal wires. For the same reason they are not suitable for cultivation in dry areas or where a fixed irrigation system cannot be established. This choice is not recommended in organic farming, where the largest sestids are also preferred to limit the transmission of diseases from one plant to another. The fusiform form can also concern the cherry, with similar advantages compared to the apple (small size and early entry into production) and disadvantages (dependence of the plants on the irrigation system and guards).

Long pruning for the apple tree

It is a suitable means of raising apple trees, freer than the spindle. It maintains a central axis into which are inserted the fertile branches that have remained intact. The branches, not shortened but only thinned, bend under the weight of the fruits at the ends and thus adopt a weeping posture. The apical dominance of the branches is limited by the weight of the fruits, which therefore controls the vegetative load, keeping the plant within manageable dimensions even if the rootstock is more vigorous than the thorn.


The pot is the most widespread form of cultivation for stone fruits (cherries, apricots, peaches, almonds, plums) but also for persimmons and olive trees. In an adult plant, the appearance of this form is very open and allows good illumination of all vegetation. This form of cultivation is best suited to mountainous environments, which are most conducive to growing stone fruits. The main trunk is cut at a height of about 70 cm from the ground, which allows the development of three long and equidistant main branches (selected during pruning) inclined at about 35-40° in relation to the vertical of the trunk. On the branches are the branches, decreasing in length from the base to the top of the branch. The branches in turn carry the productive branches of the harvest: mixed branches, toads and darts. Usually this form does not require a stake, since they are often grafted on loose or, in any case, quite vigorous rootstocks, with good root anchorage. With pruning, however, the plants are kept at a height of around 2.5 meters and operations such as harvesting and treatments can be carried out mainly from the ground, without the need for ladders. The pot can have variants like the delayed pot in which the cutting of the central stem is done later than the classic pot, and the low pot, in which the main branches start even lower than the ground.


It is the most suitable form of cultivation for growing citrus fruits and olives in the south, where the sun is strong. The shape is obtained similar to that of the pot, except that the branches grow at different heights from each other, and the vegetation is also kept inside the foliage. For mandarin trees, the first scaffolding starts at about 30 cm from the ground, while for other species even from 100 cm.

flattened shapes

Flattened reproduction forms were very common in the 1700s and 1800s, when they were chosen mainly for aesthetic purposes, to embellish walls and trellises with plants. Today they are mainly used in flat environments.


The palm is a form of flattened formation in which the skeleton of the plant has a central axis and 2 or 3 tiers of primary branches, which are selected from those which form in the direction of the width and not of the thickness (in the orchard they must not go to the line spacing but stay along the row). Secondary branches and productive branches are inserted into it. The branches are held open by means of rods and weights. There are many picturesque variations of palm trees, such as the “chandelier” or the “fan” or the “tricoissilon”. Carefully managed palms are long-lived and bear good quality fruit, but due to their tall development they are subject to the use of special ladders or carts for harvesting.


It is another flattened shape used for apple and pear trees, in which there is a single vertical axis with short side branches. For the vines, on the other hand, the “spurred cord” is widely used, which involves a system of posts and reinforcing wires.

Pergola, awning and double pergola

They are forms of horizontal culture widely used for vines, especially in the south, and for actinidia. Both species, which are climbers, grow on sturdy structures to form a green roof. A variant can be the arch, where vines or actinidia, grown in two opposite rows, form beautiful tunnels.

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