Gallery of Espalier Forms

Gallery of Espalier Forms

Espalier is a beautiful and functional way to grow fruit trees. In our video, Tricia talks about the techniques needed to prune and train an espalier. This type of tree training dates back to ancient Egypt, and was also practiced by the Romans. The practice was refined into high art in 17th century Europe. Espalier is a French/Italian word for "something to lean against." In modern use, it means the tree, the trellis, and the act of training the tree. 

Espaliered fruit trees and plants may be time intensive to maintain, but they repay you in high fruit production in a fraction of space. If you're considering adding an espalier to your garden, the first step is planning! Choose a tree or shrub you find beautiful and appropriate for a wall or fence you'd like to fill. Typically, plants that are free standing, with side shoots and branches that produce fruit, vines or flowers. The area will need enough room and air circulation for horizontal branches to grow. For example, a pear tree can grow up to 10 feet tall, and 7 feet across.

Espalier forms are usually divided into two styles: formal and informal.

Informal Espalier

Informal espaliers are much more free form and can be bent to any shape as long as they are trained to height and width. Informal espaliers may not need a trellis to support them.
Informal Fan Informal Fan
Let your imagination grow wild! To make your work easier, choose naturally fanning branches. 
Gradually use branch bending techniques to fill out the overall plant shape.

Formal Espalier

Formal espaliers follow a very defined pattern, although each pattern has multiple names and variations. These shapes are sure to garner attention in any yard.Formal Fan Formal Fan
Big blank wall of a house? The formal fan is perfect. 
The formal fan creates beautiful leading lines to draw the eye to a 
focal point such as a fountain or statuary.
Palmette Oblique Palmette Oblique
The palmette oblique gives you the desirable leading 
lines of the formal fan in a taller, narrower package.
Belgian Fence Belgian Fence
Instead of an unsightly board fence, grow a Belgian fence 
for a privacy screen
Drapeau Marchand Drapeau Marchand
Forget the photinia and grow an attractive, productive 
hedge with the drapeau marchand espalier form.
Tiered Cordon Tiered Horizontal Cordon
This is an easy formal espalier form ideal for 
creating a living fence. There are many variations of horizontal cordons. 
Create a form with one, two, or three tiers of horizontal cordons.
Candelabra Candelabra
Imagine a single cordon with more vertical flare, and you have
this striking form. Use it along a fence where more vertical fill is desired than 
horizontal cordons can provide.
Palmette Verrier Palmette Verrier
Similar to the candelabra form, but more upright in form. 
Use the palmette verrier for those tricky, narrow areas, or for an alcove.
Triple U-Shape Triple U-Shape
Think of it as a cross between the upright palmette verrier 
and the spreading can. For the adventurous gardener.
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Unfortunately, peaches don’t form spurs (I’ve heard rare varieties might, but in general they don’t). All of the fruit will grow on 1-year-old wood. Candelabra is not a good firm for a peach, because you’re trying to keep l of the fruit close to the main scaffolds – they won’t grow like that. You need to constantly be refreshing the wood by cutting back hard, so you always have a good balance of new growth (next year’s fruit) and 1-year old wood (this year’s fruit).

Try notching (google if you don’t know what that is) at intervals all along your branches to get new shoots to grow. You’re going to have to leave them on and let them get kind of long to get fruit off of them. I would suggest heading them back during the growing season to promote branching – that will help you get more 1-year wood without letting them grow too long, which would spoil the candelabra. Once you’ve got shoots all over your main framework, you’ll have to maintain by refreshing a portion of them yearly. So maybe you cut 1/2 of the 1-year shots back to a single bud every winter and leave 1/2 unpruned or pruned back to about 8 inches (for fruit this year). If you’re keeping your candelabra highly restricted and neat by pruning all of the side shots off or cutting them really short, you won’t ever have peaches. That’s why only fans are recommended for espaliering a peach.


Ingrid, well if your tree is not setting blossoms you may need to fertilize with a high phosphorus fertilizer or if you are doing a lot of pruning on the tree to shape it you just may be cutting off the fruiting wood.


Hi, your espalier video really encouraged me to start my espalier journey. I have three peach trees trained into candelabra. They’re four years old but haven’t fruited yet. Last year the blossoms were taken out by a late frost. This year I didn’t see any blossoms at all. Would you offer advice how and when to prune to get fruiting spurs? Thanks!

Ingrid Lau

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