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How to Prune a Honeybell Orange Tree

Honeybell orange trees are also known as Mineola tangelos. They are members of the Rutaceae family and are a cross between a tangerine and grapefruit. Honeybell is an early season orange tree, producing fruit between October and January. As with all citrus trees, prune only to remove limbs growing incorrectly, dead wood or those damaged in a freeze. For proper growth and fruit production, allow the Honeybell orange tree to grow naturally.

Sterilize and sharpen your pruning tools before you use them. Wash your blades off in a 50 percent solution of water and bleach to kill any diseases remaining on the blades. Sharpen your blades so your cuts will be clean and not open the orange tree up to sickness.

Wait until late March or early April to prune off any damaged wood due to a frost or freeze. Orange tree branches that look dead have a habit of resprouting in the spring. Cut off only the dead sections of the honeybell tree.

Prune large limbs by starting your first cut on top of the branch approximately 14 to 15 inches from the trunk. Saw almost through the entire branch. Start your next cut underneath the branch several inches out from where you started the first cut. Saw at an angle toward the first cut and the branch will snap off the tree.

Saw the remaining nub off the tree. Start at the top of the nub next to the trunk and saw at an angle down and away from the trunk section.

Remove any branches that are crossing each other. Select the branch you want to remain on the honeybell tree and remove the other. Cut the branch off where it attaches to the branch you want to remain on the tree.

Prune off any suckers that are growing below the graft. Cut the suckers off with pruning shears or loppers, as they are from the rootstock and not the honeybell tree.

Prune any dead wood from the tree. Cut the wood off right above the live growth area.

Cut away an entire third of the orange tree only if the tree is old and not producing fruit or foliage, as this is a technique used to revitalize honeybell orange trees.


Rootstocks used for many sweet orange trees are that of sour orange trees. If branches are allowed to grow below the graft, the product will be sour oranges and not sweet.

Honeybell orange trees allowed to develop their natural canopies will be the healthiest and produce the most fruit.

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