How to Prune Honey Mesquite


Mesquite shrubs and trees are common in the Southwestern part of the United States. They are part of the Legume (Fabaceae) family and grow in the desert, replacing nitrogen in the soil. Honey mesquite (prosopis glandulosa) is one of three common types of mesquite trees. It is a deciduous plant that has 8-inch bean pods which provide food to humans and animals alike. The tree grows up to 20-feet tall with a trunk that is up to 1 foot in diameter. It blooms in May with creamy yellow clusters of flowers. Prune honey mesquite to keep the plant healthy and improve its shape.

Step 1

Wait at least one year, preferably two years, after planting to prune honey mesquite trees to give them time to become established. Prune them in the summer months.

Step 2

Thin the canopy by pruning some of the tree's inner branches. Remove those that rub against or cross each other inside the bulk of the honey mesquite. This will allow air to circulate more freely, nourishing the tree and preventing wind damage.

Step 3

Selectively remove about 20 percent of the honey mesquite's live foliage every three to four weeks during the growing season. This will encourage proper root development. Cut branches that are growing in conflicting directions, along with those that do not contain live foliage growth.

Step 4

Keep the area around the base of the honey mesquite tree clear of undergrowth. Cut down any shoots that grow, along with weeds.

Step 5

Remove dead, damaged or diseased limbs. Cut them off where they meet healthy branches, making the cut on the healthy wood to prevent the spreading of disease.

Step 6

Raise the honey mesquite's canopy. Trim off the lower branches, especially those that are growing in a downward direction.

Tips and Warnings

  • Don't prune more than 20 percent of the honey mesquite canopy. Excessive pruning will slow down rooting and result in dense growth of leaves and branches.

Things You'll Need

  • Pruning shears
  • Gloves
  • Pruning saw


  • Desert USA: Mesquite
  • KNPR: Norm's Favorite Desert Trees
  • Online Tips: Pruning Mesquite Trees
Keywords: prune honey mesquite, honey mesquite, cut branches

About this Author

Kelly Shetsky has been a broadcast journalist for more than ten years, researching, writing, producing and reporting daily on many topics. In addition, she writes for several websites, specializing in medical, health and fitness, arts and entertainment, travel and business-related topics. Shetsky has a Bachelor of Arts degree in communications from Marist College.