Limb bending WORKS

As many of you know but some of you may not, there is an often cited trick to get a fruit tree to bloom- or at least part of it- earlier than it otherwise would. This process is very simple and just involves tying down one or more limbs on the tree down below a horizontal level. You can tie a string to the end of the limb and then tie the other end of the string to a stake in the ground. I’ll leave it to others to explain the biological reasons why doing this causes the limb to bloom earlier than it otherwise might have, but the point is it is a great way to get a least a few fruit from a tree a year or more earlier than you otherwise would have. So if you have a tree that you are just dying to find out whether the fruit it produces will be good or not and you don’t want to wait until it reaches full maturity, this is a great way to sort of “cheat nature”.
If all this sounds too good to be true and you wonder if it really works, I offer the follow photo as evidence that it absolutely does!

This photo shows a 4 year old honey crisp apple tree. In spite of the large size and age of this tree, it just would not bloom for me so far. I was getting quite anxious to make sure it is a honey crisp apple and get a few fruit from it, so last year in early fall I tied a branch down pretty low. The results speak for themselves. The only limb on the whole tree that bloomed this spring is the one I tied down, and it is COVERED in blooms. So if anyone has any doubts about the effectiveness of this technique, I think this pretty much proves it works.


I had a similar experience. I tied down branches of my Apple tree. This year I see quite a few flowers on it. But I think it happens at the expense of vegitative growth. In your case you only tied down one branch so it probably didn’t make a big difference for the tree. But I tied down pretty much all the branches last year and the tree only had about 2 inches of growth for the entire year. This year looks promising though.


What time of the year did you do this?
Whoops, I see on this post you mentioned early fall.

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That’s what I did, but I’m not at all sure you need to do it that far ahead…I just don’t know. Mine was tied down so long that it sort of grew into that position- thats why it is still bent down even though the string isn’t visible.
But I’m curious to know the same thing you were trying to get at- how far head do you HAVE to do tie down to get these results?


Somewhere on this site I posted a study that indicated that such activities (bending) stress the tree into production, and are effective after the summer solstice when the trees start to get the message that days are shortening and its time to prep for next year, and set buds, …or not.


This has worked well for me too, on multiple apples, even when I bent the limbs late in the middle of the winter.

Terence Robinsons work at Cornell would also support that theory.

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Apical dominance, terminal bud, lateral bud…

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Flower initiation on Apple starts a month or so after bloom,
So for the most benefit from bending ,spreading,
This should be done in June -July here in Wv.
Often the weight of the leaves will bend the branch,
Strings get in my way.
I have used sticks as spreaders to bend branches to good effect .
60 deg angle seems best, any farther down and it wants to send up water sprouts


I’ve bent almost all my branches for several years now. I don’t have an issue with slowed growth like you experienced.

I bend those branches when I have time. I’ve found that early spring is the best time because most branches are pliable. If I wait too long, they tend to stiffen and become harder to bend.

Pear wood is more fragile than most. I know it because I have broken several good looking pear branches over the years.


A good way to start from scratch if you have new trees or new shoots coming in is to put a clothes pin just above a new shoot. Depending on the shoot you can often displace it enough to widen the crotch angle. If you get the clothespins on early enough in spring you can force the beach into having a nearly 90° crotch angle.


I was told I should repost this here from the What’s happening today thread. If anyone is looking for more info on this such as pruning and topping I can help.

I’ve done Low Stress Training with pepper plants to great effect. The number of bud sites are very high for this size of plant and the vigor is impressive. Spreading out the canopy really lets the plant use all of the leaves it has produced and is supporting. It also allows light down to the lower branches and promotes inner growth.

I’ve also used LST on my recently acquired Calamondin bush rather than pruning it. It was very compact and crowded in the centre with many of the inner branches beginning to be stunted. I’ve since opened it up and the plant has started to develop those branches again. Today I found that one branch has some small flowers developing on it which is exciting.

On either side of the Calamondin are some more LST plants, they definitely make the best of the window sill light that they get.


It might be unrelated. I’m not really sure. I’m hoping it will do better this year.

I always imagine that leaves and branches are like solar panels. They get the best efficiency when they’re perpendicular to the sun and are receiving the highest amount of photons to drive those chemical reactions. If they aren’t getting full light then they’re just costing the plant nutrients and water.

I have a Nadia plum x cherry tree that I’m going to train because it looks like it’s going to be a very crowded if I don’t.


Does pulling down branches to promote flowering apply to all types of fruit trees, or just certain types? I have a sweet cherry that is growing very upright, but one branch in particular that was pulled down a bit is the only branch with flowers


The only fruit tree I’ve noticed that can fruit abundantly with shoots stay rather vertical is peaches/nectarines. All my other fruit trees apples, pears, plums, cherry seems to set blooms faster with bended branches.