pruning a tea olive - Knowledgebase Question

Salem, Al
Avatar for drochesterss
Question by drochesterss
February 8, 2011
How should I prune my 10 ft tea olive? It is bushy at the bottom and top with bare branches in the middle (diameter of a 1/2 dollar). Someone said I should wait until Feb. to prune it even though it is now blooming. I don't want to kill it with drastic pruning, but it grows close to my house wall and doesn't need to get much taller & the bare spots don't look nice.

Answer from NGA
February 8, 2011
Photo by purpleinopp
Tea olives flower on the new growth of the season and are typically prune in early fall or in late spring after they have finished blooming. Since yours is blooming now, wait until late spring or early summer to do any pruning. 

To keep them bushy, tea olives are traditionally pruned as you would a hedge. It sounds as though yours hasn't been pruned much and has been allowed to grow at will. You can renovate your tea olive with selective pruning over the next two or three years to help it grow into a more compact and bushier specimen. After flowering is finished start by removing any misplaced branches, right back to their point of origin. Then shorten the remaining branches by about one third. This will force new growth towards the center of the plant. After it finishes blooming next year, use hedge trimmers to even out the appearance. Then, each year after flowering has finished, prune it back by a few inches. Eventually you'll end up with an attractive full plant.

Irmo, SC
Avatar for gbryantjr
A comment from gbryantjr
January 19, 2021
We moved into a house with tea olives from 10 - 13 ft tall, in Irmo SC. When should I prune them and how much should I cut back?

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