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Straggly olive trees

I HAVE a grove of olive trees that are over 2m tall but have not yet filled out. Should I be topping them?


YOUNG olive trees can sometimes grow rather tall and rangy. Different varieties have different growth habits, but factors like soil conditions and exposure to sun and wind can also have an effect.

If you did nothing, the trees would probably eventually bush out, but, personally, I like olive trees to look well-branched right from the start, so I would prune them back at an early age to force new growth.

Start by removing the top of the main shoots, bearing in mind the point where you cut them is where the new shoots are most likely to arise. Another point worth remembering is pruning encourages growth - cutting back a weak shoot can often result is fresh growth that is much stronger than the original shoot. Don't be afraid to cut them back hard. You can cut old olive trees right back to stumps and they'll still shoot away.

Weekend Gardener, Issue 165, 2005, Page 24

Reproduced with permission from the former Weekend Gardener magazine. The views expressed here are not necessarily those of the RNZIH.

Andrew Maloy Weekend Gardener

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Last updated: October 25, 2005