How to Prune a Lemon Tree

by Alex Kountry
Updated on

If you have a lemon tree that’s starting to get a little out of control, it’s time to give it a good pruning. Read on for tips on how to prune a lemon tree for optimum health and fruit production.

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Pruning Basics

Pruning is an important part of keeping your lemon tree healthy and productive. It encourages new growth, helps the tree to bear fruit, and can even prevent disease. Although it may seem daunting, pruning your lemon tree is actually quite simple. With a few basic supplies and a little know-how, you’ll have your tree looking top-notch in no time.

Why prune a lemon tree

Several reasons exist for pruning a lemon tree. One is to thin out the lemon tree so that it produces larger lemons. Another is to remove any dead or diseased branches to improve the overall health of the tree. Additionally, pruning can help promote new growth and keep the lemon tree from becoming too overgrown.

When to prune a lemon tree

Pruning is essential to the health and beauty of your lemon tree, and should be done on a regular basis. The best time to prune is in the late winter or early spring, before the tree begins to produce new growth. This will give you a chance to shape the tree and encourage strong new growth.

You can also prune your lemon tree during the summer, if necessary, to remove any damaged or diseased branches. Just be sure not to remove more than one-third of the tree’s foliage at one time, as this could stress the tree and slow its growth.

Pruning Tools

Pruning shears are the most common type of pruning tool. They have long, straight blades and are used to cut branches up to 1/2 inch in diameter. Loppers are similar to pruning shears but have longer handles and can cut branches up to 1 1/2 inches in diameter.

What tools you need

Pruning shears are the most common tool used for pruning. They are also called hand pruners, garden shears or secateurs. There are two types of pruning shears: anvil and bypass. Anvil pruners have one sharpened blade that cuts against a flat surface on the other side (the anvil). Bypass pruners have two sharpened blades that slide past each other like scissors.

Pruning saws are used to cut thicker branches that can’t be cut with pruning shears. There are different types of pruning saws, but the most common type is the bow saw. It has a curved blade with large teeth that can quickly cut through branches up to about 4 inches in diameter.

Loppers are like giant pruning shears and are used to cut thicker branches (up to about 2 inches in diameter). There are two types of loppers: anvil and bypass. Anvil loppers have one sharpened blade that cuts against a flat surface on the other side (the anvil). Bypass loppers have two sharpened blades that slide past each other like scissors.

Pole pruners are long-handled tools with a cutting head at the end. The cutting head has either one or two blades (depending on the type) and is operated with a rope and pulley system. Pole pruners are used to reach high branches that can’t be reached with any of the other tools mentioned above.

How to sharpen your pruning tools

Use a file or whetstone to keep pruning shears, loppers and pruning saws razor-sharp. A sharp tool is not only easier to use, it makes cleaner cuts that heal quickly.

Here are four easy ways to sharpen your tools:

1. Use a file. For quick touch-ups, use a triangular file or pocket-size chain saw file. Draw the file across the beveled edge of the blade, using even strokes until you feel a burr on the other side of the blade. Turn the blade over and repeat on the other beveled edge. Wipe off any metal filings with a clean cloth.

2. Use a whetstone. If your blades are very dull, use a oilstone or waterstone (whetstone) to sharpen them. Soak the stone in water for 20 minutes before use (or pour oil on it if it’s an oilstone). To sharpen the blade, hold it at the correct angle (usually about 20 degrees) and stroke the blade along the stone away from you, using even pressure. Start with coarse grit and switch to finer grit until you feel a burr on the other side of the blade.
3. Use a honing rod. For extremely dull pruning shears, use a honing rod also called a honing steel, which looks like a large nail file. Place the tool’s blade flat against the honing rod so that one beveled side is facing up and holding the rod at about a 30-degree angle from horizontal rub the blade along the rod away from you using even pressure.(You can also buy electric knife sharpeners that will do this for you).
4. Get it sharpened professionally. You can also take your pruners (and other gardening tools) to be sharpened by a professional every few years or so to make sure they stay in good condition and are always ready to go when you need them

Pruning Techniques

Pruning is a horticultural and silvicultural practice involving the selective removal of certain parts of a plant, such as branches, buds, or roots.

How to prune a lemon tree

Pruning your lemon tree is an important part of keeping it healthy and productive. While you can prune your lemon tree at any time of year, late winter or early spring is the best time to do it. This will give the tree a chance to heal before the hot summer months when it will be actively growing and producing fruit.

There are a few different ways that you can prune your lemon tree, depending on what you are trying to achieve. If you are looking to simply remove dead or diseased branches, then you can do what is called ‘crown cleaning’. This involves carefully removing any dead or diseased wood from the main branches of the tree.

If you want to encourage your lemon tree to produce more fruit, then you can do what is called ‘fruit thinning’. This involves removing some of the small fruits that are developing on the branches. This may seem counter-intuitive, but by thinning out the fruits, you are actually increasing the size and quality of the remaining fruits.

Whatever type of pruning you are doing, it is important to use sharp, clean pruning shears. This will help to prevent disease from spreading into the cut wounds. Also, be sure to sterilize your shears between cuts if you are working on more than one plant.

How to prune a dwarf lemon tree

Pruning is necessary to maintain the dwarf lemon tree’s shape and to remove any damaged or diseased branches. The best time to prune your lemon tree is in late winter or early spring, before new growth begins.

To prune your lemon tree, you will need a sharp pair of pruning shears. Start by removing any dead or diseased branches, as well as any branches that are crossing or rubbing against each other. Once you have removed the damaged and diseased branches, you can shape the lemon tree by trimming back the remaining branches.

When shaping the lemon tree, make sure to leave enough leaves on the branches so that the tree can continue to photosynthesize and produce fruit. If you remove too many leaves, it will stress the lemon tree and reduce fruit production.

After Pruning

The lemon tree should be pruned in late winter before the new growth begins. Pruning will stimulate new growth and encourage the tree to produce more fruit. It is important to remove any dead or diseased branches, and to thin out the crown to allow light and air to reach the inner branches.

What to do with the pruned branches

Don’t throw away or compost those pruned branches! Re-purpose them by turning them into homemade toothpicks. Lemon tree pruning is essential to the health of your tree, and it’s also a great way to get free toothpicks.

To make your own lemon tree toothpicks, start by sterilizing a mason jar and its lid. Place the pruned branches into the jar, and cover them with boiling water. Let the branches sit in the hot water for at least 30 minutes, then remove them and allow them to cool.

Once the branches have cooled, use a sharp knife to cut them into 2-inch long pieces. Sharpen one end of each piece with a toothpick sharpener or a knife, and your lemon tree toothpicks are ready to use!

How to care for your lemon tree

Watering:
Lemon trees need regular watering, especially when the fruit is ripening. The soil should be kept moist but not soggy. Mulching with organic material will help to retain moisture in the soil and keep the roots cool.

Fertilizing:
Lemon trees need to be fertilized every 3-4 months with a balanced fertilizer such as 8-8-8. If you are using a granular fertilizer, apply it around the drip line of the tree (the outer edge of the branches) and water it in well.

Pruning:
Pruning is important for two reasons: to shape the tree and to encourage fruit production. Trees that are not pruned will produce fewer and smaller lemons. Pruning also helps to keep the tree healthy by removing dead or diseased branches.

To prune your lemon tree, start by trimming off any dead or diseased branches. Then, cut back any branches that are growing outward instead of upward. Finally, cut back any branches that are crossing over each other or rubbing against each other.

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About the author

Alex Kountry

Alex Kountry is the founder of HayFarmGuy and has been a backyard farmer for over 10 years. Since then he has decided to write helpful articles that will help you become a better backyard farmer and know what to do. He also loves to play tennis and read books

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