A lemon tree grows relatively slowly, but you should still prune it to get a nice growth. In this article you will learn what to look for when pruning.
The lemon tree actually grows in warmer areas, for example in the Mediterranean, India and Asia. Nevertheless, the plant can also thrive in your garden. Because it’s a bit colder here, lemon trees don’t grow quite as much as they do in their native land. You should still prune your lemon tree from time to time, as this will help it to survive the winter and ensure a dense growth and lots of fruit.
Pruning lemon tree: The right time
You should prune a lemon tree very sparingly, as it does not grow as quickly as a native apple tree, for example. It’s best to prune your plant only when you want to remove dead branches (maintenance pruning) or slightly shape the crown (educational pruning).
Maintenance pruning: Old, dry branches on your lemon tree can be cut off all year round. This relieves the tree and supports the growth of new shoots.
Educational pruning: If your tree crown is getting out of shape, you can prune wild branches at the beginning of spring, preferably in March or February. At this time, your tree is still in winter dormancy and can regrow vigorously with the first rays of sunlight.
Pruning lemon tree: Maintenance pruning
Sometimes individual branches of your lemon tree die or are damaged by pests. You can then cut off these branches at any time. This is how you perform a maintenance pruning:
Cut the damaged branch as close to the trunk as possible. This allows the lemon tree to close the cut again.
If an entire branch has died to the next branch, it is best to cut it as close as possible to the next largest branch.
Be sure to always cut the branch vertically so that water does not collect on the cut. This will prevent your plant from being attacked by bacteria or other pathogens.
Pruning lemon tree: Education pruning
To give your lemon tree a nice, round crown, you can remove all cross-growing branches in March or February until you like the shape. In the case of very large plants, you can also ensure that branches further inwards also get enough sunlight. It is best to prune your lemon tree into a semicircular shape. This is how you perform a pruning:
First, place your lemon tree in front of a light-colored wall so you can easily see the crown.
Trim any branches that don’t fit the shape to the same length.
Cut off branches that grow into the interior of the crown.
If branches cross, remove the thinner branch.
Thin out the crown a bit by removing leafless and transverse branches. This way all your shoots will get enough light again and grow better.
General tips on pruning technique
- Use only sharp pruning shears and always make a smooth cut with them.
- Avoid stumps and always cut the branches at an angle and close to the trunk or other branches. This way you can avoid rainwater collecting at the cut and fungus growing there.
- Sometimes your lemon tree develops so-called “water shoots”. You should remove these long-growing shoots, as they do not bear fruit and do not promote the development of your plant. It is best to cut them off in the summer so that the large leaves of the shoots do not block the other branches from the sun.
- Larger cuts should be treated with a wound wax suitable for the tree (e.g. from **Amazon). This will prevent the cut from being attacked by fungi.