Painting the Citrus Trees

Have you ever noticed the trunks of citrus trees – lemon, grapefruit, oranges are painted white?  Well, I decided to give our grapefruit trees a new fresh coat of tree trunk paint!

So, why do people paint the trunks white you ask?

No, it’s not for bugs.  Basically it’s to prevent your trees from getting a sunburn, especially when they are young.  They will get a sunburn, and it’s no doubt about that in this Arizona sun! The reason is because the leaves/branches aren’t long enough to shade the trunks.

The paint is basically non-toxic latex paint but you can buy special tree trunk paint anywhere. I bought two quarts of Arizona’s Best Tree Trunk Paint at Home Depot in the garden department.  One quart of paint is enough for one tree trunk and is $6.  It will take you maybe 45 minutes to slap on the paint if there’s already paint on there, adding another coat doesn’t take long.

Now, our trees are 50+ years old, actually a neighbor told me they were closer to 80 years old.  Woah. My neighborhood sits on a former citrus grove, so almost all of our neighbors have a citrus tree on their land.  So right now painting really isn’t necessary since they are mature trees, but it definitely looks great and so people still paint them for that reason.  And you all know I like to keep things pretty around here!

Before the front yard grapefruit tree:

Before, backyard grapefruit tree:

I’m not sure when the last time it was the trees got painted, but since I moved in almost a year ago I haven’t thought about the tree trunks until now.  So, off to paint I went!

After, the front yard tree:

And, the backyard tree (I also did some pruning afterwards):

Yes, I decided to paint our baby orange tree too since he definitely needs to make sure he doesn’t get sunburnt! After all, that was the real purpose of the paint, right?

Diana Elizabeth did wear her orange straw Anthropologie garden hat as she did this.

Diana Elizabeth is an author, photographer, and obsessive antique shopper. You can typically find her in her garden wrist deep in dirt, at a local estate sale or planning her next epic party.


  • Saru Poch

    Hi Diana,

    How have the trees done since you painted the bark? I just recently pruned my citrus trees (lemon, lime, grapefruit) as the previous owner of the house let them grow wild. I’m thinking about giving the paint a shot but wanted to make sure it wasn’t going to hurt the trees any.

    • Diana Elizabeth

      Hi Saru, the trees are fine, and painting citrus trunks is a typical procedure, especially when young. The reason why we paint the citrus is so the trunks don’t get sunburn. Most of the citrus grows in a bush rather than a tree (I’m hoping to leave our new citrus bushier). We paint the trunks when they are young and just upkeep it, the trees tend to not need it as much when they are mature and their branches help shade their trunks but since it’s already on there a fresh coat always looks great and adorable. We live on a former citrus farm so neighborhood trees are already painted and we love the look!

      If you don’t have a need for it (your trees are mature), you don’t need to. Otherwise it’s a nice look to your citrus and just fun! You can use 1 part latex paint (avoid oil-based) and 1 part water.

  • Irv Smith

    I live in Houston and want to paint the bottom of my large crepe myrtle a deep indigo color. (As was done on a bunch of trees in a Houston park by an artist.) Any ideas on how best to color my Tree Trunk White paint? Food coloring, RIT dye, get some colorant from local paint store?(This paint apparently not available in Houston area so I bought on Internet.)

    • Diana Elizabeth

      Hi Irv – the white paint for tree trunks I heard is 1 part latex house paint, 1 part water. So I would suggest if you want the purple, I would go in and get a latex purple household paint and add the same amount of water to it to get the consistency of most white tree trunk paint.

  • amy

    the baby tree looks so adorable with the tiny coat of paint!! aww!


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