From the common lemon and limes to the rare Blood Orange, all are part of the Citrus genus.
These deciduous are known to grow vigorously during the spring and summer months. When the conditions are right, Citrus branches know no limits and can soon tangle with nearby plants if not pruned.
Pruning is essential for the productive and robust growth of Citrus trees.
If you own a Citrus tree, you should prune it at least once yearly. Here is how.
How to Prune Citrus Trees?
Use pruners that are sterile and sharp. Aim to prune no more than 20-30% of the foliage. Cut long branches protruding out of the foliage mass. Remove low-lying branches from the canopy. Prune of any dead wood and swollen stems or inverse taper. Remove any branches pointing in towards the trunk.
Tips for Pruning Citrus Trees
Prior to starting the pruning process itself, make sure to prepare the required tools that are in the right condition.
Use sharp and clean pruners. Dull pruners will only make the job difficult for you, but you are more likely to damage the plant with blunt blades.
Without a sharp pair of shears, a side of bark is usually left uncut, and a falling branch will peel off dangerously large patches of bark.
Other than that, you should prune your trees when there’s enough daylight so you can clearly see the branches under the foliage.
Use gloves and other protective clothing because Citrus trees are full of thorns. Be extra careful when cutting off large or high branches.
It is often a good idea to step back from the tree every five minutes in pruning sessions to get an overview of your work.
Taking frequent breaks to look at the tree will keep you from over-pruning it.
If you have a really old Citrus tree that is dropping its fruit yield, you can use a special pruning technique to invigorate the tree and make it increase its fruit yield.
For an old and under-performing tree, you can cut off all branches to reduce it to a single trunk only.
When the tree is entirely bare of all branches, this gives it a chance to revive its growth and produce more fruit.
Benefits of Pruning Citrus Trees
Deciduous fruit trees need pruning for better plant health and fruit yield.
Pruning helps stimulate the tree, improve the branch structure and prevent branches from breaking or hanging too low when there’s a heavy fruit set.
Pruning also helps improve the production of fruits with good quality. Well-pruned Citrus trees give larger and juicy fruits compared to trees that are not maintained.
Other than fruit production, pruning also improves the general look of your trees as it restores their canopy to a dense and round shape.
Pruning also protects the foliage from catching diseases by improving aeration and light availability.
The Best Time to Prune Citrus Trees
Pruning your Citrus tree at the right time is important for your tree. This is because you won’t have the next season’s fruit yield to enjoy if you prune at the wrong time.
Ideally, Citrus plants should be pruned after they have supplied fruit in the fall. This gives the plant enough time to re-establish itself before the next blooming season.
If you live in a warmer climate, you have the winter to early spring to prune your citrus tree. If you live somewhere in colder weather and there is a danger of frost, you should wait for early to mid-spring to prune.
What to Prune and What Not to
Before you start using the sharp shears on the foliage, take a good look at the tree to plan the pruning session.
Your goal should be to prune no more than 20-30% of the tree, so make an image in your mind of how you expect the tree to look after 20-30% of it is pruned.
It is very easy for one to get carried away when pruning trees, so take special care to know when to stop.
Cutting back hastily will prevent the tree from fruiting in the next fruiting season.
As you look at the tree, focus on the long stems that are dangling out of the body of the tree. Target similar branches that come in the way when you walk around the tree.
At the top of the tree, cut branches that bend back down towards the ground.
Branches that are lying too low also need to be removed. Some Citrus varieties can have a lot of low-lying branches that are almost touching the ground.
These branches are susceptible to insect infestations. Moreover, they block airflow around the trunk, increasing the risk of fungal infections.
If you find any swollen stems on your Citrus tree, it may be a sign of a Wasp infestation.
Wasps usually lay eggs inside new Citrus growth, and as the larvae grow over time, the stem swells up. Remove all such branches and dispose of them by burning them.
Deadwood also must be removed as it exposes your tree to many other pests or fungal infections.
You will need to take a close look by pulling the foliage aside to scan the tree’s interior for dead or rotting wood.
If you see any shoots springing up from the lower parts of tree trunks or where the trunk joins the ground, they must be removed ASAP.
These vigorously growing watershoots suck plenty of nutrients from the tree and can reduce the fruit yield.
Frequently Asked Questions about How to Prune Citrus Tree
Can Citrus trees be pruned when they are blooming?
Citrus trees can be pruned throughout the blooming season. The blooming season is even the best time for pruning your citrus trees.
How long should I wait before pruning a newly planted Citrus tree?
You must let a Citrus tree get established before pruning. Trees should be left to grow in the ground for at least a year before you prune them.
Marcel runs the place around here. He has a deep passion for houseplants & gardening and is constantly on the lookout for yet another special plant to add to his arsenal of houseplants, succulents & cacti.
Marcel is also the founder of Iseli International Commerce, a sole proprietorship company that publishes a variety of websites and online magazines.