There’s a good reason for painting the exposed bark of citrus. The bark is particularly sensitive to sunlight, and the paint reflects the ultraviolet rays that can cause sunburn resulting in cracking and peeling.

  • If you expose trunks or limbs during pruning, it is important to protect the exposed areas.
  • Citrus trees are actually shrubs and the branches naturally grow low to the ground shielding the bark. Homeowners like to prune them up, which, unfortunately, exposes the thin-skinned trunk and branches to the damaging rays of the sun.
  • When frost damage occurs some trees have been completely defoliated leaving trunks open to sunburn.  The canopies sometimes return, but usually not thick enough before the heat of summer returns.
  • Most smooth bark trees (such as Ash) growing in the low desert need protection from the hot sun as well, particularly with the afternoon sun.

We recommend painting with a whitewash or half-strength latex paint. Unfortunately, white trunks stick out like sore thumbs in the landscape. There is now an alternative. Go Natural paint was developed by Chuck Robbins, a former citrus-grower in Mesa, Arizona. Formulated to match the natural color of citrus bark, the paint provides the same ultraviolet protection as white latex but lasts longer. You can use it to coat other thin-barked fruit trees such as peaches, and it will also protect the bark of young landscape trees. Like any latex paint, you can apply it with a brush, roller, or sprayer, and it cleans up in water.

It is important to note that according to many tree experts, once a tree begins to compartmentalize it is too late to help.  Paint should be applied at planting or before damage occurs to prevent sunburn.

Trunks can also be wrapped with protective trunk wrap materials. One option for this is window screen material. It breaths, shades, and it does not store heat. It can be single or double wrapped.

Our CareScape ArborCare would be pleased to assist you with your tree needs.

Here’s a detailed reference: