How to prune this menorah shaped apple tree

This dwarf Pink Lady tree belongs to a friend and has never been pruned. Without leaves you would see it is shaped like a menorah, the branches starting 1-2" off the ground and mostly curving upward. It’s more than 5 years old. The location is West Hills, Ca., at the west end of the San Fernando Valley. The first thing I thought of when I saw it was to cut the bottom branches off. But does that really matter at this point, I’ll be curious to know what to do with those low branches . And what about the rest of this bush like tree.

It’s really hard to see with all the leaves on it but I’m sure it would take a lot of pruning. find the best one above the graft union and get rid of the rest. my guess is that most are suckers coming from the rootstock. is it a seedling pink lady or a grafted tree?

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It was bought at a local nursery, I’m sure it’s grafted. I’ll look for the graft, but the branches are so identical in growth habit (they come out of the trunk horizontally for one or two inches, then make a 90 degree curve upwards) that it’s hard to imagine they are suckers.

I think that perhaps (notice how I’m hedging here!) one could identify the seven main stems that are supposed to be the menorah, and then thin everything else to emphasize those. So you should have one central leader and three shaped scaffold branch on each side, with nothing pointing out front or rear. Would that (maybe, perhaps, possibly) work? (There is also the nine-branch version, so it’s possible that there are four main branches one either side instead of three.)

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i would find the central most leader and cut evefything else. the tree looks relatively small so starting from scratch would be my personal option. heading cut at knee heighth on a central leader then let it grow some scaffolds. fun project actually, its not like its a productive tree anyway.

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Suppose you didn’t want to turn this into a central leader shaped tree, but just make a bush like apple tree that produced fruit. How then would you prune it, and what would be the downside of a bush like shape? Would the fruit that was shaded lack sweetness?

My thought is it might all be rootstock.


that would not even b an option but someone with more experience may chime in on that one. fruit needs sun. prune it up asap so you can see if it is even worth keeping at this point.

I am not sure how this happens unless the original planter tried to do an espalier against the wall and then gave up or some animal kept nipping it off.

I am no expert by far but I have learned that when faced with any situation with multiple choices that leave me unsure I first remove what I know cannot stay, crossed branches etc. One by one I eliminate the worst and then at some point it will become clearer. It is possible that this could be turned into an espalier even a menorah one, but it is a muddle at this point.