Cherry tree pruning
A few years ago I purchased a dwarf cherry tree, planted it and then misplaced the pruning directions. This tree started out as a 4' stick. Now, 4yrs later I looked up how to prune it and got my first whirl branches started BUT what I missed is that I was supposed to trim the trunk of the tree to 30" from the ground very early on. Now the trunk of my "dwarf" tree is about 8' tall and about 3"in diameter and the first branches are about 3'-4' longer and are the diameter of a pencil (roughly). The whole point of getting the dwarf is that it would be small and manageable for me to try a fruit tree. The original size was to be max 10-15'H. Is it too late to lope the trunk shorter? If I cut the trunk down, I will not have any branches is it young enough to recover? If I can prune it down, what is the best time to do so? I live in Albany NY, Zone 5. I feel terrible that I mishandled this tree. It's thriving but too big for me to handle. Since I haven't had but 1 cherry so far I figured it's worth a go before it gets even bigger. Many thanks, for any help you can provide!!!!
Certified GKH Gardening Expert
8 feet tall is not that big for a dwarf tree, since dwarf fruit trees are typically 6-10 feet tall at maturity. The early pruning cuts were probably intended to slow the tree's growth, but even after missing those it doesn't sound like your tree is too overgrown.
I wouldn't recommend cutting the main trunk down, but you can gently shorten the tree's height by removing or shortening the tallest branches. This should allow you to keep the tree to a manageable size, or even to gently reduce its size over time. You can remove about 1/3 of the tree's total size in a year as described in this article:
This article explains when to prune different types of cherry trees: