Lemon trees come in all sizes. They range from the dwarf lemon tree, which can grow 2 to 8 feet (.61 to 2.44 m), to standard trees that can reach 15 feet (4.6 m) or higher. The Meyer lemon can be grown in a pot and still produce regular-sized lemons for its owner. Regardless of the size of your tree, you should learn how to prune a lemon tree to a suitable shape. Pruning lemon trees opens up the center of the tree, allowing easy access when spraying, and creates a large fruit-bearing surface area than can be reached by the sun and the harvester. Pruning also creates sturdy branches that are strong enough to support the fruit they produce.
1 Choose the proper time to prune lemon trees. Lemon trees are evergreen trees that do not demonstrate a true dormancy, such as the loss of leaves. However, the growth and metabolism of the trees slow down after the fruit harvest. Lemon trees in cooler climates show slower activity just before the rapid spring growth. Pruning should occur during this period of dormancy or right when the new spring growth appears.
2 Remove all fruit from the tree.
3 Prune any branches that are damaged or diseased all the way back to the base.
4 Cut any branches that are smaller than the diameter of a pencil.
5 Prune suckers as they appear at any time. Lemon trees are made by grafting normal-sized fruit-bearing branches on smaller tree stock (for dwarf trees) or more hardy stock. Suckers are shoots from the rootstock that will reduce fruit yield and adversely affect the health of the lemon tree. They often surpass the height of the main plant in a couple of months if left unchecked, “sucking” the nutrients from the bearing part of the tree.
Suckers that are green and newly formed can be gently broken off at the base.
Suckers with woody stems should be cut with pruning shears flush with the trunk of the lemon tree.
6 Decide if you want an open, compact, or hedge type tree look. This will also depend on the type of lemon tree that you have. A small potted lemon tree may produce better with and open look, whereas some people may want a bushier plant.
Traditional lemon pruning results in a tree that is bigger at the bottom than the top. This allows for equal sunlight to all parts of the tree.
7 Look at the overall shape and balance of the tree. If the tree has more branches on one side, remove some on the heavier side until the tree balances out.
8 Remove the lower branches to give the tree a single, sturdy trunk.
9 Choose 2 or 3 branches to be the main scaffold branches that you will train to bear the fruit.
10 Cut the center stem off, which will open up the center of the tree.
11 Cut off the tips of the main branches. This will force the branches to grow thicker and sturdier. Over the next several growing seasons, concentrate on the main branches that you have chosen, cut them back as needed, and allow secondary branches to grow out from them. Cut back anything that is not strong or that blocks the light from entering the tree.
12 Thin the fruit by plucking it off. It will produce larger fruit and to allow the canopy to grow in young trees. Trees should not be allowed to bear fruit until they are mature, which is between 3 and 4 years old.
- Date 18 November 2015
- Source WikiHow.com