Unless you have the greenest of green thumbs, thinking about how to prune a lemon tree might well have you stumped. Most citrus trees are usually either bursting with fruit or covered in beautiful blossom, making the issue of when and how to prune a lemon tree very tricky indeed.
Luckily, we have the low-down on this sour puzzle!
But first things first: Why should you think about pruning a lemon tree at all?
Pruning a lemon tree is great for:
- Keeping your lemon tree the proper and manageable size
- Ensuring your lemon tree is easy to access
- Allowing light to reach the canopy
- Preventing branches from crowding
- Strengthening core branches
- Controlling water shoots
- Allowing the circulation of air
- Increasing the blossom quality
- Increasing the size and yield of the fruit
- Preventing the lemons from being damaged.
What is lemon tree pruning anyway?
Pruning a lemon tree is the fine art of removing certain branches for the benefit of the tree as a whole. Done right, it makes for lots and lots of delicious lemons and a very healthy lemon tree.
But if you botch that lemon pruning job, your tree could become diseased, decayed, ugly and even dangerous – and before long you’ll be sadly checking for the 7 signs of a dying tree.
So to maximise the delicious and minimise the decay, here’s how to prune a lemon true like a boss:
The first step for pruning a lemon tree is to get rid of any unhealthy branches, so they don’t carry any disease over to the next season. Damaged branches should also be removed, as they can easily become diseased or infested with insects.
2. Remove water sprouts
Water sprouts are what an arborist would call vigorous upright growth, and while these are potentially impressive, they won’t bear fruit. Not just that, water sprouts or water shoots can produce too much interior shade, which is not good for the branches or fruit.
3. Remove crossed-over branches
Next, look for any branches that criss-cross over other branches, and remove them too. Why? Because fruit that grows on these branches can become easily damaged, opening the door for disease and infestations. Also look out for branches that are growing in the direction of the centre of the tree, because they’ll also cause shading problems.
4. Consider removing more wood
Now, consider whether removing some more wood from the tree may open it up and improve the size and structure even more. As this is difficult to judge, you could always ask your friendly local arborist, who will be more than happy to give you great advice and even better tree pruning services.
5. Clear away the pruned wood
Finally, get rid of all the branches and wood you’ve removed from the tree, as there are a host of annoying insects and pests that would love to call that litter home.
How to prune a lemon tree – Conclusion
Wondering when to go about pruning a lemon tree? Unfortunately, it’s not a simple question because your tree is almost always either flowering or in fruit. It also depends on the particular tree, but as a general rule, you can prune whenever it is flowering. Late spring/early summer and autumn are typically best for light pruning in Australia, and late winter is good for heavier pruning.
Ready to prune your lemon tree, or do you need some extra help and advice? At JC Tree Services, we do lemon tree pruning to Australian, Queensland and Gold Coast City Council standards, so call 0418 451 814 for expert advice and services.