Things You'll Need
Sharp pruning shears or pruning saw
Tangerine trees growing in a home landscape do not normally require pruning. Citrus trees usually have an aesthetically pleasant growth habit and stay fairly compact. Pruning may be needed when the tree is damaged by cold and frost. Pruning may invigorate a tree that consistently produces small fruit or is not vigorous. Homeowners may wish to prune a tangerine tree to maintain its appearance in the landscape. Pruning may also help produce more consistent yearly crops, as some tangerines tend to bear heavily one year, then sparsely the next. Dancy tangerines have a tendency to bloom in alternate years.
Determine when to prune. Pruning to restore vigor to a tree should be done before the spring growth flush. Severe pruning should be done when danger of frost has passed. Removing suckers and shoots should be done after the first flush of new growth.
Sterilize the pruning shears with bleach or bleach-infused wipes. Sterilize again before pruning another tree to prevent carrying disease between trees. Use bypass pruners, like scissors, or a pruning saw.
Remove suckers. Remove any green shoots that appear at the base of the tree near ground level by cutting with sharp, clean pruning shears even with the base. Remove any soft green (not woody) branch that is significantly longer than the surrounding branches by cutting them flush with the branch from which they are growing.
Remove branches damaged by cold weather. Inspect the tree for branches with dead tips that have not produced any new leaves. Prune these branches back to the healthy wood. Inspect all branches for cracked bark whether they have leaves or not. Prune away branches with cracked bark or prune back to healthy bark. Prune with clean, straight cuts to avoid damaging the bark.
Evaluate the tree's shape. Remove any branches that detract from the tree's appearance. Make three cuts to remove large branches. Measure 15 inches from the trunk and cut upward until the saw binds. Measure 18 inches from the trunk and cut downward. Make the final cut a few inches from the trunk on an angle. Never cut flush to the trunk.
The University of Florida Extension service does not recommend using paint or other materials to cover pruning wounds.
Avoid anvil type pruning shears which can crush wood and leave damage.