Before I get into the rules of citrus tree pruning, let me say that, by no means, is this everything there is to know on the subject. Nor do I claim that I have the best information on citrus pruning.
These are, however, some of the best basic rules. And it they're followed, they'll benefit 90 percent of home gardeners every time.
By the way, if you bought a citrus at any fruit tree sale during the past two months, please remove all the blooms and/or tiny fruit this year and next. You should only allow citrus trees to grow, baby, grow. Don't allow them to set fruit the first two years of life.
Since March 1 is the "jumping off" point for citrus pruning (most stone fruit should have been pruned by now), here are the top rules of engagement:
- It is best to prune any fruit (stone or citrus) before they flower. For citrus, that means March in Texas.
- Use really good, sharp pruning shears and loppers, and wear very tough gloves to protect yourself from trees with thorns
- The goal of pruning is to open up the tree so it's able to receive sunlight and good airflow throughout. That's important in our humid climate, because without sunshine and air circulation disease may ruin crops.
- Prune out any dead wood and little suckers/sprouts growing at the bottom or below the graft. If you allow sprouts to grow, they will take important nutrients from the tree for branches that, in most cases, won't ever produce.
- Thin out the center of the tree by removing weak or dead branches. It is also important to remove branches that are rubbing, crossing over each other, or touching in any way.
- On older citrus, prune down in height every few years to make the fruit easily accessible.
- While it's true that citrus trees don't need to be pruned every year, they should be pruned at least every two years, mostly for size control and dead wood removal. If you run across the recommendation that "citrus trees should never be pruned every year," that's almost always in reference to orchards.
- When you think you're done, stand back and reexamine your work to see if you've missed anything. Dispose of pruned wood and limbs. Don't leave them lying around, because they will invite insects and diseases.
If that's not enough to get you started, here are two websites dedicated to citrus and fruit tree pruning:
GardenLine Appearance Saturday
Buchanan's Native Plants, 611 E. 11th St. in The Heights
This Saturday's GardenLine appearance is at Buchanan's in The Heights at 611 East 11th St.
If you've never been to Buchanan's, let me entice with you with a few things. First, this is Houston's first and still best nursery/garden center dedicated to Texas natives. They also specialize in proven organic methods, and they are one of the top three herb nurseries in town. They have also been Houston Rose authorities since the day they opened in 1986, and they have a staff that not only loves what they do, but they understand what they are talking about. Simply put, Buchanan's is one of those nurseries that, instead of mass merchandisers, I would love to see replicated all over town. But the beauty is, they are so centrally located ... in The Heights ... that anyone can pay a visit.
Soil Menders is sponsoring my visit, so that means plenty of freebies from them. And roses will be the topic of the day. There will be rose seminars before, during and after my 11 a.m.-1 p.m. appearance. In fact, the two folks doing presentations are worth your visit, even if you couldn't care less about me and the freebies.
Donald Burger, past president of the Houston Rose Society will be doing classes on container roses at 10 a.m. and hybrid tea roses at 11:30. At 11, another of my favorite rose aficionados — and another past president of the Houston Rose Society — Gaye Hammond is doing a seminar on building rose beds. Both of these experts are fun and informative, so make an effort to catch at least one.
The new book "1001 GardenLine Questions" will also be available, and I'll see what else I can glean from the prize closet.
Randy Lemmon's GardenLine is heard 6-10 a.m. Saturdays and Sundays,
exclusively on NewsRadio 740 KTRH.
Visit the GardenLine Home Page: http://ktrh.com/pages/gardenline2.html
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