How to Trim Citrus Trees That Froze


Save your citrus following a freeze by knowing how to care for it after the cold. Oranges, lemons, grapefruit, limes and tangerines do not tolerate deep freezes well without protection. Living in an area with only light freezes and growing cold-hardy varieties of citrus increase the chances that your trees will survive winter weather. How you trim the trees after the temperature rises above the freezing mark also determines whether your citrus tree will have the strength to bear fruit in the coming season. Improperly trimmed trees can die in subsequent freezes or prove barren when harvest time arrives. While leaving the deadwood on the tree throughout winter seems counterproductive, it will help to insulate and protect your citrus trees until May.

Step 1

Cover your citrus trees with water from a sprinkler to encase the tree in a protective layer of ice before the freeze.

Step 2

Wait until May before trimming any freeze damage off your citrus tree. Leave deadwood on the tree to protect it in subsequent freezes.

Step 3

Watch your citrus tree for an initial leaf growth in March, followed by a dieback in April.

Step 4

Check your citrus trees in April for freeze damage by scraping across ridges in the limbs formed from the intersection of the deadwood and live bark. Differentiate live bark by noting its green color as opposed to the brown of deadwood.

Step 5

Cut the dead limbs off below the deadwood so only live bark, indicated by a green ring on the inside of the cut end of the limb, remains. Do not treat the cut end of the branches with wound dressing, as the tree does not require it for healing.

Things You'll Need

  • Citrus trees
  • Sprinkler
  • Knife
  • Pruning shears


  • Texas A & M Horticulture: Citrus
Keywords: citrus tree, freeze damage, trim frozen tree

About this Author

Athena Hessong began her freelance writing career in 2004. She draws upon experiences and knowledge gained from teaching all high school subjects for seven years. Hessong earned a Bachelor's in Arts in history from the University of Houston and is a current member of the Society of Professional Journalists.