The Q&A Archives: Citrus Tree Pruning

Question: We recently bought a home with numerous citrus trees. I've heard the best time to prune is Feb-March but there are already little flower buds and new sprigs growing. Is it still safe to prune? Also, I am new to tree care and don't want to harm or kill the trees. How much should I prune? I've done a bit of reading on the subject but any tips would be appreciated. Thanks in advance.

Answer: February through March are the recommended times to prune, but I usually prune my citrus trees immediately after harvesting the fruit, which is December or January. This gives the tree an opportunity to resume growth and to develop flower buds for the next flowering/fruiting cycle. Now that your tree is opening flowers, you will lose some of your harvest if your prune right now. Even when you do not see flower buds, they are there, in their undeveloped state. If losing some fruit is not important, go ahead and prune now. If you'd rather harvest a treeful of fruit, wait until after you have harvested to prune. You can safely remove up to one third of the canopy without harming the tree. Many commercial orchards shear their trees into short, round shapes to facilitate harvesting. I don't know how large your trees are so I don't know how much pruning you need to do. The above is just a guideline. Hope this information helps!

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