Pruning Tangerine Trees

Let the sunshine in

Pruning tangerine trees - Meet my tangerine tree, it's quite small but gives us so much fruit that we feel like we own an orchard! These trees produces dozens of fruits, many of which, I must admit end up rotten on the ground. I could reduce the amount of fruit by pruning some of the blossoms as soon as they come out, but then I think about the way the trees look when they are covered with tons of fruits....and I give up the dilution idea.

Anyway, let's prune! 

Word of caution: When pruning tangerine trees please make sure to wear your work gloves. Otherwise your meeting with their long thorny stems and shoots will be less than pleasant.

Why does it need to be pruned? Well, it's looking like a bit of a mess.... you can see the density of the branches, the many cross branches. Those all need to be cleaned up. At the top of the tree you can see the long stems reaching out above the tree's canopy. Cleaning things up a little will serves you as well as the tree's health. And on the subject of your health.... yours is about to get better. Pruning fruit trees is so much fun that I've decided that it MUST be good for you! So let's prune!

When to prune? As is the case with all citrus trees, when pruning tangerine trees you need to wait until last fruits have dropped off the tree. (In my case as you can see the fruits are still hanging on the tree, but I pruned it for educational reasons ;) 
Citrus trees can be pruned year round, including at winter. No harm will come to it, especially in regions with a warmer climate and because we are not hard pruning. 

Where to begin? First, plan your pruning. See the orange colored line? that marks more or less how and where you should prune the canopy for easy care, fruit picking and for the tree's health. Begin by creating a path, yes that's right, prune your way inside the tree. It will give you with a better view from the inside - out.
It's bets to create your 'path' into the tree from trees north side. By opening the 'path' you'll create a natural hole into the tree which will allow fresh air, sunlight and better air circulation in the tree, that's also why it should be in the north. Citrus tree trunks don't like too many hours of direct sunlight, so avoid cutting your path to the tree's center from the south.

First, remove a few branches with one hand and search for the long thorny stems and shoots with the other. Some will have grown well through the season, and are very high, pocking up above the canopy. Choose one and follow it down until you reach the point where it leaves the main stem or trunk - cut as close as you can to the main stem. Once cut, you can just pull it out. Well done.

The pruning tangerine trees lesson continues - Next to be pruned are the dead branches, twigs and shoots. They can be pruned whenever you see them, cut and move them out of the way. Things should now start to get a little cleaner and clearer and you will now suddenly see new leading stems that where hidden only seconds ago - that's a sign your doing it right. 

The third cut should be the 1 or 2 branches that will allow light to penetrate the tree's center from above. I always make sure to open a kind of "window" at the top of the tree - don't be afraid, find at least one branch with a significant amount of leaves on it and cut it. (if the branch you cut is more than one inch in diameter, make sure to put pruning sealer on the stump to prevent diseases and fungus.

Pruning Tangerine Trees

The final cut!

What else needs to be pruned? Well that's obvious, we need to reduce the tree's general height. It will help you both train and care for your tree easily, and of course fruit picking will be easy and fun. Don't look for the right place to cut, just do it wherever feels right.

Remember not to prune when your tree is blooming, you'll lose future fruits. 

Pruning tangerine trees? It takes only 25 minutes, including a coffee break and only needs to be done once a year. Then throughout the year all you need to do is routine pruning, which means removing shoots, twigs, and dead or broken branches for a healthy happy tangerine tree. My tree's final look... seems happy don't you think? 

My personal recommendation

My preferred pruning shears  - As citruses are sometimes tough to prune (even the small dried twigs can give you a hard time) I suggest using bypass loppers. 

Providing general guidelines on 'how to prune' any kind of plant is important, but there are plants, and there is YOUR plant. So despite there being loads of information on this site, I also provide specific and personalized support. If something wasn't clear, or you're not sure of your plant's name, simply send me a picture with your question. Use the form below and I'll get back to you. In the mean time, see what others are asking. 

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