How to Prune Navel Orange Trees


The navel orange is one of the most popular eating oranges, with a thick, firm skin, no seeds and juicy flesh. Navel oranges have a tan button at the bottom (opposite the stem end), hence their name. Navel oranges ripen in the winter, so gardeners should wait until they have harvested all of the oranges to prune their trees.

Step 1

Inspect the navel orange tree for dead, diseased or damaged wood. Dead wood will be brittle and will not sway with the wind. Diseased and damaged wood will bear physical discoloration or deformity. This wood needs to be removed for the health of the tree.

Step 2

Prune away dead, diseased and damaged wood by cutting it off at the base or cutting it back to a Y-intersection, leaving only healthy wood. In between cuts, spritz your pruning tools with disinfectant spray to avoid spreading bacteria to other parts of the tree.

Step 3

Prune away large branches that cross from one side of the tree to the other. These branches can rub up against other limbs, stressing the tree. They also provide shade to the branches below, which is bad for fruit production.

Step 4

Thin the canopy by removing limbs from crowded areas to allow for better light penetration. Remove limbs that grow vertically and limbs that cross other branches. Snip these off at the base without cutting into the trunk or originating branch.

Step 5

Clip off green juvenile shoots that emerge from branches and the trunk of the navel orange tree.

Things You'll Need

  • Anvil pruners
  • Lopping shears
  • Disinfectant spray


  • Citrus Tree Source: Shedding Light on Pruning
  • Sunkist: Navel Oranges
  • Western Farm Press: Navel Orange Tree Pruning Discussed
Keywords: navel orange tree, prune orange trees, navel orange

About this Author

Based in Northern California, Elton Dunn is a freelance writer and nonprofit consultant with 14 years' experience. Dunn specializes in travel, food, business, gardening, education and the legal fields. His work has appeared in various print and online publications. Dunn holds a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing and a Bachelor of Arts in English.