Pruning Lemon Trees

Guidelines for Pruning Lemon Trees

            Many trees require meticulous and frequent care, but that is not the case when pruning lemon trees.  As with most citrus, these tart fruit trees actually do best with just a little pruning every couple of years.

            Growing citrus such as lemons is a pleasurable experience on many levels.  The trees are very attractive, with a well formed shape with striking dark green and toothy leaves that are the perfect backdrop for the delicate white flowers and, later the bright yellow fruits.  During bloom season, the air is heavily perfumed with the lovely fragrance of the blossoms.  At harvest, high yields of the tart, juicy lemons will provide ample opportunity for tasty concoctions to delight the taste buds.  In other words, growing citrus is an all around wonderful experience.  Because lemon trees, like all citrus, are subtropical or tropical in nature, these trees are only able to be used as landscape plants in the warmest regions of the United States and other countries.  This doesn’t mean that those in the cooler areas need to be deprived of these gardening treasures, however, as they can easily be grown as container plants.  Either method of growing citrus will be all the more successful if the trees are properly cared for, so learning all about the techniques of growing, nurturing and pruning lemon trees is important.

             When discovering the best ways to prune trees, the first thing to know is the equipment that will be needed and how the tools will be used.   Because of the sharp, vicious thorns that are commonly found on citrus trees such as the lemon, you will definitely want to invest in a good pair of quality gloves with extended cuffs to protect your hands and arms.  Hand pruning shears to use on suckers and slender limbs, long handled loppers for thicker branches and a handsaw that will be capable of eliminating heavy branches will round out the gear needed for the pruning task. 

            Citrus trees, in general, are very easy to maintain through pruning.  In fact, they require very little work.  If you purchased a young tree, it has likely already had its first pruning experience by the nursery.  Small trees are generally trimmed in order to have 3 major growths, from which all smaller branches will emerge that eventually will serve as the fruit bearers.  Lemon trees do tend to grow a bit more quickly than other citrus types, and faster growing could mean an unruly tree.  The first thing to watch for is the potential for suckers that may pop out low on the tree, within around two feet of the tree.  Because the graft joint that bound the two root stocks together can be found a few feet up from the ground, any growths below will be rogue stems.  These will not be true to the lemon tree species and will serve to pull valuable energy from the tree; a feature that will detrimentally affect fruit production.  These suckers need to be removed by using the hand shears positioned as close as possible to the tree trunk. 

            It is important when pruning lemon trees to keep the center area of the tree open and airy, so prune away any branches that cross the center.  Identify and remove also any branches that are damaged from weather or rubbing as well as any that may have insect damage.  Although the tree should be inspected annually for these situations, any other pruning is unnecessary. 

            Lemon trees offer great benefits in their beautiful appearance, the heavenly aroma from the fragrant blossoms and the unusually delicious flavor of the sunny fruits, especially when they are well maintained through proper pruning.



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