The Q&A Archives: MY ORANGE TREE

Question: Help! I am not sure if my orange tree is still alive. I trimmed it last fall and the leaves dried up and the limbs are now dry and looks dead. It is over 25 yrs old. It is a dwarf tree. Should I wait to see if it will come back by winter? I live in N.CAL

Answer: Basic pruning should not kill an orange tree but if you removed major branches and most of the live wood when you pruned, you may have shocked the tree and retarded its growth. I would think a 25 year old tree would have an extensive and healthy root system full of reserve energy so even if your pruning was drastic, and all the leaves were pruned off, the roots should be able to muster up enough energy to help the branches leaf out. The general rule of thumb is never to remove more than one third of the foliage on a shrub or tree during any pruning session. More than that can stress a tree or shrub. I suspect that when you pruned it and then saw some of the leaves dry up that they became sunburned because you removed their protection and exposed them to sunlight that they normally would not receive. I think I'd wait to see how the tree recovers over the summer months. With any luck it will leaf out this winter. Let's hope so!

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