The olive tree, scientific name Olea europaea, is a tree that has practically become a symbol of the Mediterranean environment thanks to its more than recognizable appearance and the so-called liquid gold that is extracted from its fruits, the olives. This small evergreen tree can live for thousands of years, as demonstrated by Al-Badawi himself, which is the name given to the oldest olive tree in the world, over 4,000 years old and located south of Jerusalem.
However, maintaining these beautiful trees may not be as easy as it seems, and in this article we are going to focus on when and how to prune an olive tree garden to keep it as healthy and beautiful as possible.
When to prune an olive tree
There are two suitable seasons to prune an olive tree: either at the end of the harvest, when the tree is already going into vegetative rest, or at the beginning of spring, when the tree is waking up.
Both moments offer their pros and cons, although if we refer to the olive tree as an ornamental tree and not in an agricultural exploitation, it is quite indifferent which of the two to choose. In any case, you should always avoid pruning it before frost arrives, just as it happens with any other tree.
Benefits of pruning for the olive tree
Several are distinguished forms of pruning in the olive tree. One of the main ones is training, whose objective is to give the desired shape to the olive tree in its first years of life, and that has the benefits of producing a tree with the characteristics we need, without branches that harm each other.
Production pruning is practiced on already formed trees, and its objective is the healthy development of olive branchesso that they grow properly and giving the more fruit possible.
Finally, there is also renewal pruning, which is only applied to olive trees that are beginning to age, and seeks to stimulate the production of young and stronger branches.
How to prune an olive tree step by step
These are the instructions to follow according to the type of olive pruning you want to practice:
Training pruning of the olive tree
The formation pruning of the olive tree is carried out during its first years of life, and what you must do is, in the first years, leave only the main branches of the tree and prune their secondary shoots, so that you give it the base structure on which the tree will later grow. The first year it is advisable to leave only one main branch, the one that is more robust and strong, and from then on guide it each season.
Olive production pruning
Production pruning is not so important in an ornamental tree, and what we will seek is simply to eliminate the branches that harm each other, so that the leaves of the olive tree on the upper branches do not deprive the lower main branches of the sun. Prune here leaving room for the young branches, trying to clear the densest areas. It is important too remove suckers that may have appeared.
Obviously, if it is a large tree, you will need a ladder and appropriate tools. Remember to disinfect gardening tools for pruning always and keep them as sharp as possible.
How to prune a potted olive tree
If you have planted your olive tree in a potyour priority when pruning it will be to keep it in a suitable size for its container. Prune it once a year in the same way that it should be done with outdoor olive trees, but try here to keep the growth of its branches under control.
In addition, the balance of weight between its different branches is especially important with a potted olive tree, since when it bears fruit it could become unbalanced and fall in extreme cases. Maintain a training pruning that gives it the shape you are looking for to decorate your home. Production pruning should be more oriented towards maintaining the health of the tree than seeking a large amount of olive production.
More advice on olive tree pruning
To finish, we give you some tips for pruning olive trees:
- The olive tree is a slow growing tree and, therefore, you should not practice training pruning before its third year of life.
- Pruning it beforehand could greatly slow down its development and also expose it to diseases or parasite attacks. In this other EcologíaVerde article we talk about olive pests and their natural treatment.
- It is advisable to use healing products after pruning your olive tree, especially in his early years. You will thus ensure that the pruning wounds do not cause complications.
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