why dose my orange tree look half dead?

by Noam

Hi again..
I would like to know what to do with my 4 years old Orange tree. It looks like it does not grow well - how should I prune it and when?

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Jan 16, 2017

by: Eyal

Hi Noam
Thank you for sharing.
Your orange tree looks great, even if you don't think so. It's clearly solid, the stems are in good shape, and although the leaves are quite small, they're green.

So, I'll get straight to the pruning issue you were asking about, and with your permission give you a little more insight to consider adopting later. You can definitely improve the look and health of your orange tree - here's how:

First of all I can see that the tree has two 'levels' or leaf clusters. It's interesting to see, there is a very large thorny stem rising from the center of the lower canopy. It goes straight up and splits into 4-5 thin branches. Problem is that at that height the tree can't provide enough energy.

Also, that large thorny stem will never produce fruit, in fact it isn't a stem, or a trunk, it just a shoot on steroids :-)) and it's steeling most of the tree's energy, which is one of the reasons your tree won't develop correctly.

So, what you need to do is get yourself a pair of loppers (because pruning shears won't be any good on that thick thorny shoot), and prune the shoot.
Don't think twice about it, I know it seems a little radical, but go for it! Remove the invader.

Where to cut? good question. 5 inches or so beneath the canopy. And this is important: from now on, every time you see new growth from the stump - prune it!

When to cut? wait until late winter, just before the season ends. Yes, citrus trees can be pruned throughout the year, but in your case I would calmer knowing you pruned closer to spring.

What will happen next? pruning the thorny stem will encourage the tree to grow vigorous new stems and leaves. It will allow itself to invest all its energy on the lower part of the tree, which is exactly what you want to achieve. Train your tree to invest most of its energy in one area.

What else? cultivate the soil - mix it (preferably with compost) around the trunk. Try to avoid damaging the tree's roots, as much as possible, though I assume you'll meet a few while cultivating the earth.

So, here it is again in summary:

1. remove the thorny shoot
2. cultivate the earth
3. send amazing new pictures in 3 months' time when you're seeing staggering results.

I hope that helps


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