How to Prune Lemon Trees in Southern California


Lemon trees are one of the easiest to grow of all fruit trees. They require sunshine, weekly deep watering and protection from frost. Lemon trees do not require heavy pruning but a light cleanup may be necessary every two years. Prune the lemon tree in March, or just before bloom for your area in Southern California.

Step 1

Cut off any suckers below the graft joint. Suckers are new shoots growing from the trunk of the lemon tree. The graft joint is the area of the trunk where the lemon tree was joined to the rooting stock. The graft joint looks like a swollen bump on the lower portion of the trunk. Cut the suckers to the trunk.

Step 2

Prune off any dead or dying branches. Thicker branches may require the use of the loppers.

Step 3

Cut any branches that are crossing over other branches. Cut them, at an angle, all the way back to their origin.

Step 4

Prune the height of the tree to below 8 feet. This will make it easier for you to harvest the lemons.

Step 5

Apply tree paint to all cut edges of the lemon tree. This will protect the exposed wood from the Southern California sun.

Tips and Warnings

  • Sharpen your shears, loppers and other pruning equipment before pruning . Damage caused by dull pruning implements has been shown to be a contributing factor of fungal disease in lemon trees in Southern California, according to the Citrus Research Board.

Things You'll Need

  • Hand pruning shears
  • Loppers
  • Tree paint


  • University of California Davis: Training, Pruning and Thinning
  • Citrus Research Board: Preliminary Survey of Southern California Desert Lemon Groves for Detection of Coniophora spp.
  • Orange County Register: Tips for Growing Citrus in Southern California
  • ‭"‬California Master Gardener Handbook";‭ ‬Dennis R.‭ ‬Pittenger‭; ‬2002
Keywords: prune lemon tree, prune lemons California, lemon Southern California

About this Author

Victoria Hunter, a former broadcaster and real estate agent, has provided audio and written services to both small businesses and large corporations, worldwide. Hunter is a freelance writer specializing in the real estate industry. She devotes her spare time to her other passions: gardening and cooking. Hunter holds a Bachelor of Arts in English/creative writing.