The Q&A Archives: Pruning Lemon Trees

Question: I have a lemon tree in my yard which has never been pruned correctly and therefore has some seemingly dead areas (bears fruit on the ends of what appear to dead branches)and is growing too big and looks terrible, what can I do?

Answer: Citrus trees generally bear on the ends of the lowest branches. You can prune your tree to shape this year, but expect to lose some fruit in the process. Try not to remove more than about a third of the live plant material, and remember that if you expose previously protected areas of limbs and trunk to direct sunlight, the bark may become sunburned. You can protect the bark with a white (or even brown-bark colored) latex paint. Just paint it on when you've finished pruning. Citrus trees are relatively forgiving, so if you prune poorly, it will recover. Plan to work toward an attractive tree - it make take two or three years of attention - and fruit production will improve when the tree recovers from the pruning.

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