I need help with my citrus tree

Hi all,
I started this citrus from seed about 10 years ago, and put into this container in early spring of 2022.
I know it needs a lot more development and tweaking, and that’s where I need help.
I know it needs repotting because it is sitting too high but not sure if it’s to soon after the last repotting.
The third picture is the current front, not sure if there is another possibility. Also not sure how to redefine the silhouette , how far back is it safe to prune to improve ramification and when is the best time to do it.
Also not sure what is the best potting mixture.
I welcome and appreciate any and all feed back, critique and advice.
Thank you,


I have no experience with citrus as bonsai, but here are a couple of comments anyway.

  • I would treat as a broadleafed evergreen or perhaps a deciduous tree. Use an akadama heavy soil and repot every 2-3 years.
  • The tree is still in development so the added root mass due to the higher potting is probably good.
  • I think I like your first picture as the front, particularly if the left branches are wired down a bit, Regardless of the front, I think the branches could use a little wire to give more of an out and up movement than the current up and out. Not too flat, but get some spread.
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Hi Marty,
I like your suggestion on the mostly akadama mix repot. I put it into this current pot directly from an organic soil and other than just reducing the root ball from the bottom I didn’t replace much of its original soil. So I think a repot this spring might be in order.

Your suggestion on the front is interesting. I didn’t consider the first picture as the front because of the knot hole on the trunk. Do you see it as a feature rather than a flaw? Also the two branches on the left face back and are too rigid to bend back toward the viewer.

The trunk from base to first branch is 5 inch long and I always felt it is long for the current height of the tree. So I felt it needs more height to accommodate the height of the trunk. What do you think?

As far as the branching, I believe that most of the secondaries are too long in comparison to the primaries. So I wanted to prune back to fix that, then rebuild from there. Not sure if that’s the way to go or just restructure the tertiaries.



I did not see the knot hole as a major flaw. I do see the swelling in the third picture as a major flaw (it is related to the knot hole). Based upon what you said about the branching, what about the 4th image?

The tree looks like it will be some form of broom based upon the straight lower trunk. I agree the canopy of the tree should either be taller or wider to match with the length of the trunk. I would give some thought to wider and similar height.

I would keep the third pic as the front, that has the best base, you could cut back that bulge a bit and let it heal over over time.
I think it could go a bit wider regarding the canopy.
I don’t have a ton of experience with citrus either, I put minde in akadama pumice and lava as seedlings, now they are in full large grain akadama.
Still very young just 3 years or so.
What I found is total defoliation in early summer gives me really good backbudding and refined ramification.
Done it twice already with no dieback or any adverse effects.


I have been considering reducing the bulge. I need to learn the proper way to go about it, and when is the best time to do it.

I’ve done partial defoliation (not a lot, just on the very large leaves) but never considered full defoliation because it is an evergreen and it’s still in development. So at this point I’m not sure if its best to fully defoliate or prune back the tertiaries. I have a couple other 2 to 3 years old, or older, that I will try the full defoliation on this coming summer. If I get good results I’ll do it on this one too.

On the repot I’ll clean off as much organics as I can and use full akadama. What kind of fertilizer do you use?

Yeah, trying things on less important pieces is the way to go.
I use biogold as my main fertilizer.

I like picture 3 as well as the front. I wonder if the bulge will eventually disappear with a thickening trunk. Time would tell.
Like you I am fun with citrus seeds and have 6 that are a few years old.

If the bulge would disappear eventually that would be great. However I have a feeling it may not, on its own. I think the rim has been getting bigger. Anyone know where I can get some information to tackle this subject?

I have started a few date palms, here in NYS. They germinate easily and go dormant in late fall and winter. For a plant that grown in the desert, it wants a lot of water. The roots are strong and dive deed in search of water. You can get a small (8 to 10 inches) perfectly shaped desert palm in 3 to 4 years.

I can relate to wanting to experiment on less important material. I will tell you, that the ones the make it, become important!

Defoliation is a refinement technique, one thing that took me took long to do is ask myself what stage is this tree in and what am I trying to achieve.

As for the bulge there are several streams on deciduous wound healing. Fall is the best time of year to be doing. It’s a process that takes time but the premise is continuing to make sure there is live tissue on the 360° of the wound and not pithy wood right next to the live tissue. Definitely watch a few of the streams and I prefer an Xacto knife over the box cutter Ryan rolls with.

Thanks for the above suggestions. All too often I may have this information stuck some where in the back of my minds, and I need reminders to refocus. This winter I’m doing a lot of “studying” getting ready for the Spring rush. I’m going to search for the videos you suggest , so that by the time fall rolls around, hopefully the tree, and I, will be ready to start the process. I want to repot it this Spring and don’t want to do any pruning nor defoliation in hopes that the tree will have put on plenty of new growth to advance the branching and healing.

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I kind of like pic 1 as the front despite the knot hole. The movement in the trunk of pic 3 is more subtle near the base when compared to pic 1. Also the straight section of the trunk appears longer in pic 3 without the knot hole there.