Training and pruning : Objectives, Principles & Advantages

In this post, we will discuss Training and pruning In Horticulture with their Objectives, Types, Principles, and advantages.

Training and pruning in horticulture crops play vital roles in plant growth and development as well as shape, size, and protection from disease and insect infection. Training and pruning also help to increase fruit yields and quality.

Training can be defined as the art of cutting off the plant portions to obtain the desired shape of a good framework. The structures and form of growth can be controlled by using chemical substances or by physical techniques.

Training is the technique used in agriculture to control the shape, size, and direction of plant growth. Training may involve trimming, bending, twisting, and fastening of the plant to the supporting structure.

Pruning is the science of removing a certain portion of a plant to improve the quality and quantity of fruits and involves cutting branches, roots, etc. Pruning is necessary for successful production of fruit and ornamental plants.

1. To control the shape, size, and form of a tree:

To get the desired tree, training, and pruning can be used to maintain the shape and size.

2. To improve the quality, color, and size of the fruit:

In some ornamental plants and fruit trees, many buds and fruits are produced at a time in a branch. If these are developed into flowers, the quality decreases.

3. To develop a strong and open framework:

For a better framework, a tree must have only one main stem and other several scaffold branches, and many secondary and tertiary branches. So the narrow Cached angle branches should be removed.

4. To rejuvenate old plants:

In some old unproductive orchard trees, severe pruning Encourages the development of vigorous shoot. Coffee, Rose, and Bougainvillea can be rejuvenated by severe pruning.

5. To facilitate cultivation, insect control, and easy harvesting of fruits.

6. To equal and uniform distribution of light to the plant.

7. To remove injured unnecessary, diseased, and infected plant parts.

Some differences between training and pruning are described as given below:


  • It is done in the initial stage of growth of plants.
  • It is done to develop a strong framework, shape, or size.
  • Training is more like art; to get fine and strong shape we should practice more.
  • The primary goal of training is to encourage desirable growth patterns, enhance sunlight exposure, and improve overall plant health and productivity.
  • Training practices are typically initiated early in a plant’s life and may continue throughout its development.
  • Training encompasses a range of techniques beyond pruning, including bending, tying, and staking.


  • It is done in the bearing stage.
  • It is done to improve the function of the plant.
  • Pruning is more science; we should know the physiology of plants.
  • The main purpose of pruning is to eliminate diseased or dead tissue, shape the plant, control its size, and stimulate the growth of new, healthy shoots.
  • Pruning can be carried out at various stages of a plant’s life cycle, depending on the specific objectives.
  • Pruning involves specific cutting techniques to remove unwanted parts of the plant.

Generally, there are 3 methods of top pruning in horticulture plants:

1. Heading back.

2. Thinning out

3. Pinching or disbudding

1 Heading back:

In this method, one-third or one-half of the terminal portion of the plant is removed. Heading back reduces apical dominance and encourages lateral buds. Thus it encourages bushy. compact, dense, or much branching type of growth. Eg: shearing of hedges.

2. Thinning out:

This is the removal of entire shoots or branches. Longer growth of terminal branches is encouraged by cutting lateral. Thinning of weakly grown branches results in greater height and even opening up the plant for better light penetration and aeration. Thus, bigger and better quality fruits can be produced.

3. Pinching or Disbudding:

When heading back is done in the wet season, growth in the herbaceous stem is called pinching or pinching back. If the bud is removed, it is called disbudding. Pinching or disbudding reduces food material and is used in fruit development.

Pruning can be done at any time during the dormant season in most temperate fruit species. For evergreen species, pruning may be done at any time of the year. However, it is better to do this during the suspended period (stop growth temporarily).

In Training, there are mainly three systems that are described as given below:

1. Central Leader System:

In this system, the trunk is allowed to grow without any hindrance and there will be less growth among the side branches. This method is occasionally found in nut-bearing trees and apples Narrow spaced and weak crotch branches are removed by pruning. At a developed stage, the tree looks like a pyramid. The trees maintained in this style are physiologically strong However, horticultural practices like pruning, spraying, harvesting, etc are difficult to carry out as the tree becomes tall. E.g.: apple, pear.

2 Open Centre System:

In this system, the main stem is cut off as headed back allowing the side branches to develop. It should be done 1 m above the ground. Cutting is done after 1 year of transplanting. Due to heading back, the tree becomes a spreading type with a central portion open. Light penetration is uniform and easy which helps in the development of fruits in inner branches. As the tree becomes low-headed, the horticultural practices, pruning, thinning, spraying, and harvesting become easy However tree becomes bushy and crowded. So crotches may break under severe stress and fruit load. Eg: plum, peach, apricot, cherry, etc.

3. Modified leader system:

It is an intermediate of the central leader and open center system. Here, the main stem is allowed to grow for 4-5 years and then cut off, leaving 3-4 branches below it. Cutting should be done at 2m above ground level. This is the most desirable and applied type since it has benefits for both the central leader and the open-center system.

Principles of training:

  1. Early Intervention: Initiate training practices early in the plant’s life to establish a strong foundation for desired growth patterns. Early intervention allows for better control over the plant’s formative stages.
  2. Systematic Guidance: Provide systematic guidance to the plant’s growth through techniques such as pruning, staking, and tying—direct branches and shoots to achieve a desired structure that maximizes sunlight exposure and promotes overall health.
  3. Adaptability to Space: Train plants to adapt to the available space, whether in a garden, orchard, or container. Proper training ensures efficient use of space, prevents overcrowding, and facilitates easier management.
  4. Continuous Maintenance: Implement ongoing maintenance to preserve the trained structure and address any deviations. Regular monitoring and adjustments help maintain the intended form, control size, and promote sustained plant vigor.
  5. Species-Specific Approaches: Recognize and apply training methods that are tailored to the specific needs and growth habits of each plant species. Different plants may require unique training approaches to achieve optimal results in terms of shape, productivity, and aesthetics.

Principles of pruning:

  1. Remove Dead or Diseased Material: Pruning involves the removal of dead or diseased branches to enhance overall plant health. This minimizes the risk of diseases spreading and promotes the allocation of resources to healthy growth.
  2. Shape and Structure: Pruning is used to shape the plant, controlling its form and structure. This helps achieve a desired aesthetic, encourages balanced growth, and improves air circulation within the canopy.
  3. Stimulate New Growth: Pruning stimulates the development of new shoots and branches. By removing certain parts of the plant, energy is redirected to promote the growth of fresh, vigorous foliage, leading to increased productivity and vitality.
  4. Control Size and Density: Controlling the size and density of a plant is a key pruning objective. This is achieved by selectively removing branches to manage the overall size of the plant, prevent overcrowding, and ensure adequate light penetration.
  5. Encourage Flowering and Fruit Production: Pruning can be tailored to enhance flowering and fruiting. The plant’s energy is directed towards reproductive structures by strategically pruning certain branches, resulting in improved flower and fruit development.

Advantages of Training in Horticulture:

  1. Desired Form and Structure: Training allows for the shaping of plants to achieve a desired form and structure, enhancing their aesthetic appeal and fitting them into specific spaces or designs.
  2. Improved Sunlight Exposure: Proper training methods can optimize sunlight exposure for all parts of the plant, promoting uniform growth and maximizing photosynthesis.
  3. Increased Air Circulation: Training helps create an open canopy, reducing the risk of diseases by improving air circulation. This is particularly important in preventing fungal infections and promoting overall plant health.
  4. Facilitates Harvesting: Well-trained plants are easier to manage during harvesting. They often have better accessibility, making it more efficient to harvest fruits, flowers, or other desired plant parts.
  5. Space Utilization: Training allows for efficient use of space, especially in confined or urban gardening settings, maximizing the number of plants that can be accommodated in a given area.

Disadvantages of Training in Horticulture:

  1. Time-Consuming: Training can be a time-intensive process, especially for plants that require frequent and intricate manipulation. This can be a drawback for gardeners with limited time or resources.
  2. Skill and Knowledge Required: Proper training techniques require a certain level of skill and knowledge. Inexperienced gardeners may inadvertently harm plants if they are not familiar with the specific requirements of each species.
  3. Plant Stress: Incorrect training practices or excessive manipulation can stress the plant, leading to reduced growth or even damage. Care must be taken to ensure that training methods are appropriate for the particular plant type.

Advantages of Pruning in Horticulture:

  1. Disease Control: Pruning removes dead or diseased branches, preventing the spread of diseases and contributing to the overall health of the plant.
  2. Enhanced Flowering and Fruiting: Proper pruning can stimulate the development of new branches and encourage the production of flowers and fruits, leading to increased yields and aesthetic appeal.
  3. Size Control: Pruning helps manage the size of plants, particularly important in confined spaces or for ornamental plants where size control is crucial for landscape design.
  4. Renewal of Growth: Rejuvenation pruning can revitalize older plants by promoting the growth of new, healthy shoots, extending the productive life of the plant.
  5. Improved Air Circulation: Similar to training, pruning improves air circulation within the canopy, reducing the risk of fungal diseases and promoting overall plant vigor.

Disadvantages of Pruning in Horticulture:

  1. Risk of Over-Pruning: Over-enthusiastic pruning can harm the plant, leading to stunted growth or even death. It is crucial to follow proper pruning techniques and guidelines for each plant species.
  2. Timing Challenges: Pruning at the wrong time of the year can negatively impact the plant. Some plants are sensitive to pruning during specific seasons, and improper timing may result in stress or reduced flowering.
  3. Aesthetic Impact: Pruning, if not done carefully, can affect the natural form of the plant and may not always achieve the desired aesthetic result. Careful consideration of the plant’s growth habits is necessary for successful pruning.

The natural forms of plants vary concerning the extent of their apical dominance. If the plant is allowed to grow controlled, the tree will be tall and bushy due to constant production or weak interlaced shoots that don’t bear flowers and fruits but harbor many insects and pests.

So, training and pruning are the most important garden operations. Training and pruning both are equally required for a plant to obtain a good framework.

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