Prune Citrus: [Importance, Season, Tools, Considerations and Steps]

Citrus fruits are part of one of the most important families of fruit trees that exist.

Their production tends to be numerous and of good quality when the most convenient measures are applied so that they are healthy.

Among the recommended actions is pruning and its correct administration, because otherwise it will cause more damage than benefits.

That is why it is so worthwhile to gather the most specialized information and it is just what we bring you on this occasion.

Why prune citrus?

Citrus pruning responds to different needs that adjust to the season in which the tree is found. These include:

Calamondin – indoor dwarf orange tree – edible citrus – ceramic pot 12 cm – live plant (white)
  1. Ensure an appropriate structure as it develops so that it can support the full weight of the branches and fruits when they begin to emerge.
  2. Organize the location of the branches so that the tree is balanced and, at the same time, ensure that the interior part has the appropriate light and aeration conditions.
  3. Verify that the branches exist in sufficient quantities to promote good fruit formation.
  4. Promote the formation and growth of fruits with the most optimal conditions of size and flavor.
  5. Improve the conditions of the tree by eliminating the parts that are in poor condition, sick, dry or withered.
  6. Make it easier for nutrients to be better distributed throughout the plant.

When is it better to carry out citrus pruning?

Citrus pruning must be carried out at the time when its annual vegetative activity is culminating.

When it comes to a developing tree, it is normal to apply the pruning at the times that are most convenient for its formation.

In all other cases, it is best to wait until the tree has stopped producing fruit and there is no risk of frost.

What tools should we use to prune citrus?

The selection of the best tools will depend on the thickness of the branches at the time of application.The most common is to use normal use pruning shears and a saw for the thickest parts, but if necessary it can also be an electric saw.

GRÜNTEK Anvil Pruning Shears with Ratchet. CONDOR Professional Lopper 20cm
AIRAJ 450mm Carpenter Saw, Wood Saw with 45º and 90º Stop, Carpenter Saw, Suitable for Sawing Garden Branches, Boards and Pressurized Boards-Heavy Duty Hand Saw

It is always recommended that the tools are well disinfected and sharp to achieve more exact and clean cuts and promote proper healing. It is also important to use personal safety mechanisms to prevent damage. Gloves, goggles and helmet are included here.

Amazon Basics Thorn Guard Leather Gardening Gloves with Forearm Protection, Brown, XL
Bosch – Garden safety glasses with case

What considerations should we take into account when pruning citrus?

The main thing is to define what pruning is going to be implemented since this can be of different types: training, production and rejuvenation.

Lemon tree 4 seasons – Pot 22cm. Overall height approx. 1’3m. – Live plant – (Shipments only to the Peninsula)

In some cases, the orange tree can exceed your height, so you will need the support of a ladder to cover the entire crown.

How to prune citrus without damaging the tree?

You can execute citrus pruning with three different objectives.

formation pruning

It is the first one that is carried out and it occurs just at the time when the tree begins to grow.

In this pruning, what is sought is that the tree develops an appropriate root structure to support the weight of the branches and fruits in a balanced way.

The idea here is to determine which will be the main branches and eliminate all those that are born next. The logical thing is that the selected branches have a good texture, are healthy and look solid to fulfill their purpose.

It is necessary to ensure that the branches do not grow excessively because later it will be difficult to collect the oranges at harvest time.

production pruning

In this case, pruning is aimed at improving the conditions of the tree as its life progresses.

In this pruning, branches that are in poor condition, colliding with each other or obstructing the passage of light and air must be eliminated.

When applied intensively, it seeks to renew the structure of the branches and thus ensure that the next harvest the fruits are better.

Here we must not forget the elimination of the suckers since they tend to consume energy that reduces the vitality of other parts of the orange tree.

rejuvenation pruning

In this case, the objective is that a tree that has already carried out the production of fruits for several periods, bears fruit again even though it is already old.To achieve this, it is necessary to apply a very severe pruning, so it is essential that the tree is in excellent health.

The idea is to free the tree of all branches, leaving only the basic structure of the main trunk and part of the buds that come out of it. If the tree is able to resist pruning, heal wounds and grow again, it will continue to produce fruit in due time.


Citrus fruits are among the most valuable trees that exist in society and this is reflected in the enormous consumption that is made of them in the world. In general, this pruning method is applicable to orange, mandarin and lemon trees since they all have a more or less similar structure.

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