To prune or not prune...that is the question. Back in September we moved into a new home which, to my delight, has a large lime tree in the back yard. Having fresh lime a few steps away from my kitchen has been wonderful! Fish tacos... guacamole... margaritas... need I say more? However, now that winter is here I’m left wondering how to care for the tree. Does it need to be pruned to insure healthy growth and fruit production? And if so, how? And when? I did a little research and here are the most important factors to consider when pruning:
Have a plan. Whether you want to prune your plant or tree to improve the quality of fruit, train it to grow in a certain direction or to improve the health by removing diseased foliage it's important to have a plan. If you start with your desired outcome in mind it will help you avoid making unnecessary cuts.
Remove dead or diseased limbs first. Trimming back limbs to a strong lateral branch or shoot is often the only pruning necessary.
Timing is everything. Although there are exceptions, typically the best time to prune most plants is during late winter or early spring. Pruning after new growth begins in the spring not recommended as it can weaken the plant and stunt growth.
Make the right cut. It's essential to make clean cuts using sharp shears when pruning to make sure the wound heals quickly. Jagged cuts or tears in the bark can encourage disease and insect infestation. It's best to cut limbs that intersect at no more than a 45 degree angle.
In short, do some research for your specific plant and situation before you pick up the shears. This page, here, is a great place to learn pruning terminology and view diagrams of various cuts.
Photo by Kari Burks
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