There are many types of orange trees that grow in the home landscape. No matter which kind you have, like most other citrus trees, orange trees usually do not need pruning to thrive. However, they must be pruned to repair damage caused by cold temperatures. Also, pruning can sometimes help rejuvenate mature orange trees that do not produce the harvest they once did. You do not need to seal the wounds after pruning mature orange trees.
Cut away suckers any time of the year. Suckers are sprouts that grow near or on the base of the tree and use up valuable water and nutrients that mature orange trees need to thrive. Hand clippers will work well to remove suckers.
Wait to prune other growth in the winter before new growth begins to grow, usually in January or February when the chance of freezing temperatures has passed. Use lopping shears or a saw to prune larger branches.
Choose which branches to prune. In general, only prune branches that shade out other plants, are damaged or diseased or are old and only produce smaller than average oranges. You can also prune mature orange trees to shape, if desired.
Prune branches about 1/2 to 1 inch from the parent branch. Cut in a downward and outward direction away from the parent branch. Do not cut into the parent branch.
Make three cuts to prune branches that are larger than 1 1/2 inches thick. Make the first cut 15 inches away from the parent branch in a straight upward direction from the bottom of the branch. Go as far as you can before the weight of the branch on the saw is too much. Make the second cut 3 inches farther out in a downward direction. During this cut, the branch will break off between the two cuts. Hold the last remaining bit of the branch and make the last prune 1/2 to 1 inch from the parent branch in a downward and outward cut.