Pruning an olive tree: when and how? Our advices


The olive tree can be the object of various types of pruning. It all depends on its use since it is grown either asornamental tree, either like fruit tree in order to harvest its delicious olives. In the latter case, it is better to live in a very sunny region, namely in the South. Let’s find out together when to prune an olive tree and how to proceed.

Olive tree ornament size

If you want to grow an olive tree for its beauty and not for its fruits, you can let it grow freely or prune it. in bush, in a ball or even Japanese style with a very artistic type of waist called waist cloud. What counts is to give a particular very decorative architecture to the Olive tree. Ornament pruning is carried out at the end of winter, exclusively during a frost-free period. It can be limited to the following actions:

  • Clear the base of the trunk,
  • Eliminate intersecting branches, dead, fragile or broken branches,
  • Remove low branches to facilitate movement around the olive tree,
  • Prune, keeping the end of the twigs lightly, to give the olive tree the shape you want.

Before starting an ornamental pruning session, it is necessary to take a good look at the tree from a sufficient distance. It’s all aboutbalance. We ensure keep the branches harmonious and those that feature a slightly drooping port for an aesthetic touch.

In the case of a cloud cut, the antlers are cut so as to form platforms at different levels (they are the clouds). The branches leaving the trunk and the carpenters and which are not useful are removed so that the structure that is cleared. During the first years, the Olive tree does not yet display the desired final shape since it can only be obtained after several sizes, the time necessary for each cloud to gain in density.

Olive tree maintenance pruning

Of end of March to mid-April, each year, we carry out a very light size of the olive tree cultivated as an ornamental specimen. This size is simply for balance its frame by removing frail or diseased branches and dead wood from the tree. It is only practiced on Olives that are at least 3 years old. whose framework is already in place. It’s a soft waist that can only be done every 2 years, or even less frequently. The method is simple since it suffices:

  • To eliminate superfluous rejections which enter into competition with the trunk,
  • To remove the branches which push towards the heart of the tree in order to keep only those which are well oriented. In Provence, where these emblematic trees are well known, the following adage is very evocative: “ A bird must be able to squeeze between the branches of the olive tree without its wings touching them. “.
  • To promote the circulation of air within the branches as well as the penetration of heat in the slightest sunshine.
  • To cut under the last branch which precedes the arch to remove the arches.

It is necessary to remove unnecessary greedy by cutting them flush with the carpenter branches, however taking care not to injure the latter by cutting them off with an unfortunate blow of the shears or arboricultural saw.

Cup pruning of the olive tree, a fruiting pruning

It is mainly in the southernmost regions that fruiting pruning is practiced. North of the Loire, where the climate is not as mild as in the Mediterranean areas, it is considered superfluous because even if the olive tree can produce fruit there, the maturity of the olives is not at all guaranteed in this region. geographical area.

This size, which can be annual or only intervene every 2 years, only applies if the olive tree is cultivated for its fruit. It does not dispense with having to carry out a maintenance pruning or a cup pruning beforehand, on the contrary since it simply complements these sizes. The traditional goblet pruning is the most practiced on olive trees since it allows to ventilate their crown, to give them a balanced shape but also to prevent the olive trees from becoming too large. It therefore consists of:

  • Remove the shoots developing during the first years on the main stem which will become the trunk of the tree,
  • Remove the central branch when the olive tree is 1.50 m high, i.e. when it is about 4 years old,
  • Form the goblet while keeping five carpenter branches,
  • Remove all the twigs that have already produced olives,
  • Shorten the longer branches.

This agricultural pruning is absolutely essential if you want to harvest a lot of olives. It is indeed capital in terms of production because it promotes the development of new twigs which will produce fruit after 2 years and results in much better quality olives because their maturity is facilitated. As the fruits that develop near the trunk are more qualitative than those farther away, the solution is to reduce the length of the branches.

Pruning an olive tree: some tips to follow

Care should be taken when pruning fruiting only every other year because it is necessarily more severe than an annual pruning. It therefore leads to a lower yield, the olive tree having to produce new branches to the detriment of the olives during the year following pruning and during the second year, it will spend its energy producing fruits but there will be less new twigs. Consequently, it may be judged to be more judicious to carry out fruiting pruning every year so that it is not too severe.

Whatever size you choose, you always take great care not to do it outside of frost periods as we have seen previously, but also when the sun is not too strong. And if it is strongly advised to prune the olive tree if possible before May, it is because during this spring month begins the flowering of this tree. In regions with harsh climates where late frosts can still be severe in May, if you still want to see a few olives develop, you have to be careful.

Pruning an olive tree grown for ornament or for its fruit requires a certain know how and do not forget to apply a antifungal treatment after pruning. Bordeaux mixture is quite suitable. Of healing putty may also be necessary. Amateur gardeners who have no experience in the field of pruning trees and shrubs therefore have every interest in entrusting this operation to a landscaper which will give them the benefit of his wonderful experience with plants.