When olive trees are left unpruned they grow quite large which makes it difficult to harvest the fruit. Try tidying up a tree that has been left unpruned for a number of years. “This will encourage more fruit and also highlight its beautiful natural form.” The aim is to have an even, balanced canopy.
Timing is important. Hard pruning an olive tree in late winter or early spring will encourage a flush of new growth which defeats the purpose of the prune. It’s better to give the hard prune when the tree has finished fruiting – at the end of autumn or in early winter. It’s even better to give the tree a light prune each year to keep the canopy in check. Most olive varieties produce a heavy crop every other year and this helps to even out the fruit production.
- Prune off suckers – as they rob the canopy of water and nutrients.
- Remove dead, damaged or crossing branches.
- If the tree is overgrown, reduce the main leaders by about a quarter. Branches may be removed entirely to allow in more air and light.