Fan Trained Fruit Trees

12L Fan Trained Tree

Frank P Matthews Fan Trained Trees

Our Fan Trained trees are grown on semi-vigorous rootstocks: MM106 (Apples), Quince A (Pears), Colt (Cherries), St.Julian A and Wavit (Apricots, Damsons, Gages, Nectarines, Peaches, Plums).


Pre trained in the field or container for two years followed by a third year as a container grown complete with an ‘A’ frame cane support. Reasonably symmetrical in shape, fans will have a minimum of 5 shoots. Minimum height and width 1m x 1m.

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Fan trained trees are a great way to encourage light to the branches, making this an ideal choice for sun or heat loving plants, especially when trained against a south facing wall.

As well as the usual apple and pears you can fan train stone fruit, which are not suitable for espalier or other more restricted forms. This includes plum, gage, damson, cherries, peaches, nectarines and apricots. You can also utilize soft fruit including gooseberries and redcurrants.

The classic fan shape consists of a clear stem of 45cm with two arms radiating from the main trunk, creating a “Y” shape. We recommend growing trained trees on a semi-vigorous rootstock, as any form that requires regular pruning needs a more vigorous rootstock or growth habit in order to respond well.

Fan trained tree

How to Fan Train a Fruit Tree

If planting against a wall or fence, ensure there is 15-25cm space between the tree and wall.

Start with a 1 year maiden tree. Cut back hard the first spring (before end of March), above three buds at 40-45cm. Or if fixed to a lower horizontal wire this should be to the first bud just above this wire. This will encourage side shoots to form.

The following summer you should select two good side branches. These should be connected to a wire or cane support, initially at a 45-degree angle in either direction. Later in the summer tie these shoots further down to the horizontal.

In the second spring (by end of March) reduce the branches by two thirds, leaving up to 20 cm length if possible, to an upward facing bud. Remove any other growth from the main trunk.

Choose 4 shoots from each branch in summer, one of which will need to be at the tip to extend the current “arm”. Tie these in at 30 degrees to the main branch so they are evenly spaced.

The following spring cut each of the four branches back by one third, to an upward facing bud if possible.

Summer pruning

A light pruning of tips every mid-July to mid-August and tying shoots back against a frame is all that is needed. When growth appears in spring rub down any shoots which are growing towards the fence or wall.

General tips

It is advisable to discourage/remove any central leader in fan trained trees so that the tree vigour is evenly distributed on both sides of the central axis.

It helps to fix a symmetrical cane framework to the wall or trellis in advance of establishing the tree. This is a useful guide to tying branches and shaping the tree.