With over 60 unique species, the Citrus genus is grown all over the globe for agricultural and beautification purposes.
But these fruiting trees can’t do very well agriculturally or aesthetically without maintenance.
Fruiting Citrus trees can be called domesticated plant species in the context that they aren’t very well-off if human help does not intervene every now and then.
One of the aids these plants need from us is frequent pruning to keep them invigorated and protected from diseases.
When to Prune Citrus Tree?
The best time to prune your Citrus trees is after the last frost date in your area. This early Spring window is when the tree comes out of its dormancy, and new growth starts to sprout. The window to prune your Citrus trees spans from early spring up to mid or late-Spring.
Pruning your Citrus Trees Too Early
Well, you can’t just go along cutting away foliage that a tree has worked hard to grow all year.
Like every other living being, Citrus trees need to be shown empathy for them to grow well and happy.
How do we show them empathy, you may ask.
By understanding the tree’s growth pattern, flowering, and fruiting behavior, you can make a better decision by pruning the tree at a specific time that is best for you and your Citrus tree.
Let’s start off with understanding why pruning your Citrus trees too early is not suitable for the plant.
Before Spring sets in and before the last frost date in your region, deciduous fruiting trees are at the risk of frost damage.
Citrus trees, in particular, have very thin and delicate bark and must be protected from frost.
The foliage the tree has grown over the last summer acts as a protective barrier between the tree’s core and the atmosphere.
It protects the trunk and primary branches of your Citrus tree from coming in contact with frost.
However, if you prune the foliage during the winter or before the last frost, you expose your tree to a lot of frost damage.
This can be fatal for young trees and lead to crippled growth and odd flowering in bigger trees.
Pruning your Citrus Trees Too Late
Pruning your Citrus trees too late in the Summer is as harmful or even more as pruning them too early.
After spring has passed, Citrus trees are growing vigorously and heading towards fruiting.
Leaves, collectively known as foliage, are the food-producing factories on a tree. They are actively producing food in the summer sun.
Removing a lot of foliage during the summer can lead to a severe lack of nutrition in a tree.
This can lead to a significant drop in the fruit yield as well as expose the fragile parts of your tree to the harsh sun, leading to sunburn.
When scorched by the sun, the bark on Citrus trees dries, blisters, shrivels and cracks up.
Moreover, if you prune the trees too late in the summer, you are practically cutting off the fruit.
The outer branches you are most likely to cut have already started the fruit-bearing process.
If you remove them at this time, you are only going to wash your hands off the year’s fruit from the tree.
Type of Pruning That you can do All-year Round
When we talk about only pruning your Citrus trees in early to mid-spring, we talk about seasonal pruning, wherein you remove 20-30% of your tree’s foliage.
However, you can do some pruning types outside the spring window.
For instance, suckers, which are vigorous shoots growing from the lower part of the tree trunks, and deadwood, that is, the dead, rotting wood on a tree, can be removed at any time of the year.
Suckers should be nibbed off as soon as they emerge to maintain a solid and healthy trunk. Similarly, remove all dead leaves, twigs, or branches from the tree.
Leaving dead plant matter on the tree increases the risk of the tree contracting a range of Citrus diseases.
When Not to Prune a Citrus Tree
Although we have talked about the general rules of timing your Citrus pruning sessions, we have to bear in mind that each tree is different.
Pruning is usually done once a year to keep Citrus trees in shape. However, there are specific cases in which they should be left alone to grow.
If you have planted a Citrus tree in the ground recently, let it grow for at least a year before bringing a pruner near it.
You must provide enough time for the citrus tree to develop its foliage and roots so it gets established. You can, however, prune any shoots springing up from beneath the graft level if you have a grafted tree.
If you think a tree is producing good-sized fruit and in healthy numbers, and it’s not looking messy or blocking any space, why not just let it grow?
We know the once-a-year pruning rule, but that’s not hard and fast law. You can skip pruning for a tree that’s already doing well and just let it be.
On rainy days, you must avoid pruning at all costs. Pruning trees on a rainy day or days can encourage microbes’ growth on the foliage.
Similarly, don’t head out pruning your trees when it’s too late in the day.
Pruning trees needs to be done during the bright hours so you can clearly see the branch structure and keep yourself safe from thorns or other dangers.
Frequently Asked Questions about When to Prune Citrus Tree
Can I prune my Citrus trees twice a year?
Pruning your Citrus trees only once in springtime is the recommended practice. Pruning done at any other time of the year will lead to a drop in fruit yield.
Should I wait to prune my Citrus tree if it has Gall Wasps?
If you have a Gall wasps problem, you’d have to remove the infected branch right away. Dispose of them by burning or sealing them in an airtight bag.
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.