The Q&A Archives: Pruning Olive Trees

Question: I have just bought a little Olive tree, or actually it's more shaped like a bush, at a mall here in Sweden. From the bottom of the tree there are two branches going up. One of these branches is not as thick as the other one, and doesn't have as many leaves on it. Can I cut this one off to make it look more like a tree? Could you also give me some general care tips? Like if the sun in Sweden in the winters is enough etc (I think it's about as much to the north as the middle part of Hudson Bay, but the climate is much warmer due to the Gulf Stream)

Answer: You can train your tree while it's young by cutting back the side branches. This will encourage a single trunk, instead of multiple trunks (which is what it sounds like your little tree is trying to accomplish!). Stake the tree to help it grow straight, and pinch out or cut off any shoots or suckers that form at the base of the plant. Olive trees are most lush when growing in deep, rich soil, but will tolerate poor, dry soil. They thrive in areas with hot, dry summers, and are hardy to temperatures down to 15F degrees. The trees withstand heavy pruning and appreciate full sunshine during the growing season (spring and summer). Olive trees don't need any special treatment, get along fine without fertilizer, and with very little water. Good luck with your tree!

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