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Calamondin orange tree pruning (tips to get your plant in shape)

Citris mitis, the calamansi or calamondin orange tree, is an exotic hybrid of mandarin and kumquat perfectly suited to growing indoors. 

The citrus-scented plants produce clusters of small edible fruit that resemble dinky miniature oranges.

Though a little too sour to enjoy fresh from the tree (be warned!), the fruit are good for juicing, making zingy marmalades or slicing into drinks.  

While they’re relatively hardy and can be planted outside in milder climates, calamondin trees are usually grown in pots indoors. This naturally helps restrict their eventual size.

Do indoor calamondin orange trees need pruning?

Because potted indoor calamondins stay fairly small, you won’t usually need to prune them down to size. They usually top out at around a metre/3-4 feet tall.

But to maintain a nicely balanced, even shape, it’s useful to give them a light prune after repotting in spring.

You don’t need to remove much volume, just enough to stop the plant getting too leggy and keep it healthy and full.  

Choosing the right pruning tool

Pick a good sharp pair of pruning shears or secateurs, rather than snips which are better for cutting flowers and softer stems.

Even grown indoors, a calamondin is still a tree and will probably have some tough woody growth to tackle.

If you don’t already have some, it’s worth treating yourself to the best pair of pruners you can afford. A really good tool will last you a lifetime if well looked after.

Some premium brands, like Swiss-made Felco pruners, even have fully replaceable components so you can change worn or damaged parts to keep the tool like new.  

High carbon steel blades are best, and look for non-slip ergonomically shaped grips that feel light and comfortable in your hand. 

Before buying I’d always recommend getting your hands on a pair and seeing how it feels to use, rather than trusting reviews alone. 

Pruning your calamondin orange – how and when to chop it

The best time to prune your calamondin is when new growth starts in spring, to stop it getting too straggly. It’s quite natural for citrus trees to get unruly in the growing season.

Stand back for a good look at the plant all the way around before you start pruning. Decide on the basic shape you want to achieve before making the first cut.

Shaping your plant

Do you want it like an orange tree in miniature, with a tall trunk and wide canopy? Flat and fanned like an espalier? Or round and full like a bushy shrub?  

Keeping your preferred shape in mind, start pruning back any overlong stems. Snip them cleanly at an angle just after a leaf node (the point where a leaf joins the stem). 

Be quite conservative initially, and keep stepping back to check the shape as you go. You can fine tune it once you’re sure you’ve got the shape right.

Also keep an eye out for any crossing branches and remove one of the two, and prune away any dead or damaged growth.

Once you’re happy, give your pruner’s blades a good clean to remove any debris (soapy water is fine) and dry them well.

In time new growth will appear from just below the point of each cut, fleshing out the plant to produce a fuller, more compact look. 

As the plant will naturally grow toward the light, help it keep a well-balanced silhouette by regularly turning the plant. A 90 degree turn once a week should be enough to keep it nice and even.

Pruning a calamondin orange tree isn’t only good aesthetically. It’ll also help keep the plant vigorous, with more flowers and fruit and less risk of disease. Enjoy giving yours the chop – and check out some of these excellent uses for calamondin fruit too!

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