Espalier Trees and Plants

What is an espalier?

It is a plant that has been trained by special pruning to grow all in one plane, against a wall or fence. The old-world practice is now returning as a popular hobby and is an easy way of making dull, monotonous walls look most interesting.

What are some plants that can be espaliered?

Pyracantha, forsythia, Cotoneaster horizontalis, fruit trees, crab apples, yews, mock-oranges, Japanese quince, Jasminum species, magnolias, and Tamarix species.

Is training espaliers time-consuming?

Not necessarily. A shearing or clipping to the right form at the start, then about twice a year, is all that is necessary. Bending and tying young twigs in place should be done when they are young and pliable – in the spring. They should be tied to wires firmly, but not so tight the wires will girdle the twigs. Such wires should be loosened or changed periodically.

What are some of the forms used in training espaliers?

Fan shapes with 3 – 7 main leaders from the base; horizontal branches on either side of one central-leader; curved fan types; horizontal cordon, oblique cordon, U-shaped forms, and gridirons of various shapes.

What is more important in pruning espaliers, the time of pruning or the shape?

Always the shape must be kept in mind. Even taking off a single wrong bud may retard the final shaping for a year or more. Never prune off any buds or twigs without having a mental picture of the final shape desired.