Pruning a lemon tree: when and how? Our advice

The lemon tree is a shrub very appreciated for the perfume of its flowers and for its fruits. But in some of our regions, production is not very abundant, even unlikely, because of the climate that is unsuited to this type of fruit tree. It is therefore as an ornamental shrub that it can be grown, but in any case, it must be pruned. Here are some tips to follow when pruning the lemon tree.

When to prune a lemon tree?

Because the lemon tree is busy about 8 months a year flowering and fruiting, the pruning period is relatively short, because even if this type of shrub supports very well to be pruned, it is important to wait for the best moment. It is possible to intervene:

  • Just before flowering,
  • At the end of winter,
  • As soon as the lemon harvest is completed.

It is advisable to observe your lemon trees to know when to prune them exactly because the flowering and fruiting periods can be shifted from one region to another. Size is beneficial since it promotes the next fruiting. In addition, the citrus fruit is assured of good growth, which is boosted by pruning.

When very young, the lemon tree purchased in a container generally has 3 or 4 main branches from which the main branches will then leave, which will gradually give its shape to the citrus fruit. During the first 3 years, it is therefore necessary to start by carrying out a training size so that the subject takes on a well-structured and perfectly balanced form. Then, from the age of 4 or 5 years, the lemon tree can be satisfied with a maintenance pruning annual.

Pruning a lemon tree: the different possible sizes

The lemon tree can be rod driven or wear the shape of a sphere. To do this, it is necessary to first perform a training size in order to drive the shrub. It should of course be operated when it is young to give it the desired shape, but the choice must be dictated by the space devoted to it. Thus, two solutions are available to the gardener:

  • Prune to allow the shrub to develop a fairly low spherical crown, which greatly facilitates the harvesting of lemons. In addition, the lemon tree is thus less exposed to strong winds since its height growth is limited. This pruning is not recommended if the lemon tree is grown in a very small garden because the shrub will gradually grow in width and take up quite a lot of ground space. This lowered sphere size involves reorganizing the foliage as soon as necessary, in particular lightening the center of the shrub by removing the less vigorous shoots in order to promote the growth of the main branches.
  • Perform a stem pruning lemon tree if you want to minimize the ground space occupied by the shrub and give it a particularly decorative. It is by far the most suitable for potted lemon trees but nothing prevents pruning in this way those grown in the ground if the climate allows it.

In the first case, the citrus fruit gradually takes on the appearance of a large ball. In the second case, it very quickly takes on the shape of a small tree with its well-cleared trunk. But whatever the form chosen, we think of systematically remove the shoots that appear under the grafting point.

Lemon Tree Fruiting Size

This is between mid-February and mid-April that the fruiting size is carried out. It takes place over two successive springs. It is essential to obtain a airy crownrenew the foliage, but also to very moderately reduce the length of the shoots that have developed during the previous year, knowing that this pruning must be undertaken after harvest and before vegetation resumes. Here is how to proceed to prune the fruiting of the lemon tree.

  • 1time year :

    • shorten the shoots that you want to keep by about a third of their length,
    • eliminate between 30 and 35% of old wood that produced no lemons last year.

  • 2th et 3th years, we lighten the antlers:

    • remove the rest of the old wood that has not fructified,
    • keep only the branches that have given lemons but shorten them by 30% of their length,
    • eliminate the branches that grow in the heart of the tree in order to ventilate it to facilitate the penetration of light within the branches.

This pruning reserved for young lemon trees is essential to prevent them from growing all the way up and the branches from developing haphazardly. This promotes ramifications.

Lemon tree rejuvenation pruning

As its name suggests, it is a size that is carried out on older subjects in order to give them a youthful look, or at least on a lemon tree whose foliage is withering. It is also the right size if the branches have been left to grow in all directions and the subject has lost its beautiful architecture…

It is recommended to cut low enough to encourage the formation of new shoots. We thus succeed in restoring vigor to a slightly tired lemon tree but also a nice shape. This rejuvenation size is quite severe and is best reserved for old lemon trees or a citrus fruit which, after a particularly difficult winter, does not seem to be showing signs of recovery. Anything that has frozen must be removed.

Lemon tree maintenance pruning

Some gardeners are content to carry out a maintenance pruning of their lemon tree, each year, or between the end of February and mid-April if it no longer bears any lemons and is not yet in bloom, either early fall. The goal then is simply:

  • Remove dry twigs, dead wood, damaged branches, unhealthy twigs (infestation of insect pests, fungal or cryptogamic disease),
  • To eliminate unwanted or intersecting ramifications,
  • To eliminate the branches which grow in excess towards the heart of the foliage because they prevent the lemons from developing and ripening properly, the interior of the foliage not benefiting from sufficient light and heat,
  • To remove the greedy ones because they exhaust the shrub unnecessarily.

Note thatduring the summerwe can pincer above the 4th or 5th leaves the small secondary shoots of the lemon tree.

Before carrying out a pruning, we start by equipping ourselves with protective gloves since these shrubs are more or less thorny. It is also absolutely necessary to have a pruner and a perfectly sharp branch cutter, because there is no question of tearing off the twigs and stems. The principle is the same for all trees and shrubs: we carry out straight and neat cuts. The better the tool cuts, the less risk of injury. And to avoid the transmission of diseases, pruning tools must be disinfected beforehand with alcohol or flame. Finally, a little healing putty may be essential.

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