How to Prune Young Citrus Trees

Written by kimberly johnson
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How to Prune Young Citrus Trees
Young citrus trees require pruning to train them. (orange tree image by bayu harsa from

Citrus trees, such as oranges, tangerines, lemons and limes are commonly found in warm-weather home landscapes as well as in commercial citrus orchards. Pruning is one of the important tasks to perform on young citrus trees to train them into the desired growth pattern. After the young trees are pruned for the first two to three years, they typically will maintain the desired growth pattern. Pruning young citrus trees is best done in the late winter just prior to the new spring growth.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Hand pruners
  • Hand spade
  • Loppers
  • Tree-sucker-prevention liquid

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  1. 1

    Cut off any small shoots on the trunk of the young citrus tree -- from the lowest true branch to the ground -- as close to the trunk as possible using hand pruners.

  2. 2

    Dig out any small shoots that are growing up out of the soil around the trunk with a hand spade. Dig around the shoot until you locate the root it is growing from, and cut the shoot off as close to the root as possible.

  3. 3

    Paint all cut areas with a tree liquid designed to stop sucker growth. This will prevent the shoots from growing back in the future.

  4. 4

    Prune off any diseased limbs using loppers and making the cut as close to the boot as possible. Signs of disease on branches and leaves include black spots or white growths.

  5. 5

    Cut off the last 3 to 6 inches of one-third of the branches with flower buds to prevent them from flowering and producing fruit. This encourages the young trees to produce leaves and branches, which creates a sturdier tree as it matures.

Tips and warnings

  • Repeat this pruning procedure until the tree is at least 3 years old.

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