How to Prune a Citrus Tree


Citrus trees are an ideal addition to any home landscape or garden, and include grapefruit, lemon, lime and orange trees. It is important to prune these trees to promote new growth and maintain an attractive shape. The ideal time to prune is about every other year, between January and March right before citrus trees usually bloom.

Step 1

Examine the citrus tree to see where it needs pruning. Orange trees usually need to be pruned for shaping, whereas lime and lemon trees need it more for fruit production. Look for branches that seem dead, are broken or look possibly diseased. Even branches that are growing awkwardly need to be cut back.

Step 2

Put on the gloves and eye wear and bring out the ladder if you noticed you need to prune branches up high. You want to be eye level with what you are trimming. Use the smaller shears to trim off any lower branches. These are called "suckers" and occur on the lower part of the trunk. Trim off any that are less than eight inches long to the base of the trunk.

Step 3

Focus next on the middle part of the citrus tree. Prune off any branches that are overlapping or growing straight downwards or upwards. Use loppers for these larger branches. These branches are pruned out in order to provide more air circulation and sunlight to the lower parts of the citrus tree.

Step 4

Move on to the top part of the citrus tree, using the shears or loppers depending on the size of the branch. Up here, you will mostly want to focus on broken or dead branches, as these are the only things that should be pruned up in the top. Make sure your ladder is securely against the trunk before climbing up it.

Things You'll Need

  • Pruning shears
  • Heavy-duty work gloves
  • Loppers
  • Ladder, if necessary
  • Protective eye goggles


  • Pruning Citrus Trees
Keywords: caring for citrus trees, pruning orange trees, pruning citrus

About this Author

Lauren Wise has more than eight years' experience as a writer, editor, copywriter and columnist. She specializes in food, wine, music and pop culture. Her writing has appeared in various magazines, including "Runway," "A2Z," "Scottsdale Luxury Living" and "True West." Wise holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from Arizona State University.