How to prune orange trees

With pruning, different objectives are pursued in the tree, the results of which will be shown both in the short and medium-long term. In the orange tree, pruning is important, due to the disorderly growth of many of its varieties, achieving a balanced structure. We are going to discuss the types, frequency of pruning and especially when and how to prune.



With the pruning of orange trees we are going to achieve a series of advantages:

  • Greater light, insolation and aeration inside the foliar area.
  • Nutrients will be distributed and used more efficiently.
  • And with this greater use, an increase in the size and quality of the fruit
  • Less susceptibility to attack by pests and diseases, as it presents greater vigor and greater aeration in the tree.
  • Reduction in spending on phytosanitary products, as there is less foliage or branches, and therefore less need for nutrients.


 The action of pruning will depend on the age of the tree. Young orange trees , pruning can be done at any time of the year, always avoiding it in cold seasons, due to the risk of frost . In the case of pruning important branches, it must be done when there is less vegetative activity

In the case of adult orange trees, pruning is done after the frosty season (since after a felling, the tree is more susceptible to drop in temperatures.


The pruning frequency is not established and may vary. Pruning can be done several years apart (with which the branches will be more vigorous) or an annual pruning can be done (with finer branches).

The choice of pruning is yours. Personally I think that an annual pruning reduces the damage to citrus, the wounds will be smaller and the pruning the following year will be less intense.


Pruning is graduated according to the growth objective set for the orange tree. There are several intensity is pruning:

  • Light pruning: 10% of the plant material is removed.
  • Normal or generic pruning: 20% of the plant material is removed.
  • Strong or intense pruning: 30% of the plant material is removed.
  • Very strong or very intense pruning: 50% of the plant material is removed.

These prunings will be done according to the following objectives

In the case of light pruning , production is regulated, the tree is sanitized and the plant material is renewed. Recommended to do every year.

In normal or generic pruning , the tree is kept balanced by renewing plant material.

In the strong or intense pruning of orange trees , the entry of light into the interior of the foliar area is facilitated, the plant material is strongly renewed and production is regulated in years of abundant flowering.

In the case of very strong or very intense pruning , the crown is renewed (with or without a change of variety).


Formation pruning, when carried out in youthful periods, presents a great diversity of performance. We are going to comment on some training pruning in the pruning of orange trees:

  • Three-branch formation system: consists of leaving 3 branches (separated at an angle of 120º) 3 branches, the most vigorous, by which the rest of the tree will be formed. It is the main structure or skeleton of the future adult tree.
  • Dichotomous system: dichotomous pruning pursues the objective of leaving the trunk as dwarf as possible, to facilitate future tree operations (pruning, fruit collection, foliar phytosanitary treatments , etc.).
  • Free formation system: only the branches that in the future will hinder the aeration of the tree due to its foliage, crossed branches, etc.


If your citrus fruits are of advanced age, with vigorous branches and of great length, and it is exhausted, a regeneration pruning can be carried out, consisting of the elimination by means of a strong or intense pruning of branches, shortening them and altering the arrangement of the branches in the tree. Regeneration pruning will deepen the more depleted the tree is.

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