Tropical Style

The way to Prune Dwarf Black Olive Bonsais

The dwarf black olive tree (Bucida spinosa) is widely used in bonsai. The flat-topped branches, horizontal leaf, and also twisted trunk make the dwarf black olive a natural match to the Chinese art. The tree branches generally depart the back at a 25 to 35 degree angle, which make the tree visually interesting and can be incorporated into its shape. The tree is considered an evergreen, but occasionally is semi-deciduous, so don’t worry if the leaves of the plant turn to fall colors and drop off the tree. This is a normal part of the dwarf black olive increase and does not mean that you damaged the tree through pruning.

Remove any dead or damaged branches from your dwarf dark olive tree. Remove any branches that grow vertically, cross across the back of the tree or cross on each other.

Cut away at least one of the branches at any point where two or more branches grow out from the back at the same height, to avoid symmetry. When there’s a weak place on the back, ignore this rule and depart as many branches there as you possibly can support growth until the back is stronger, at which stage branches growing directly opposite each other may be cut away.

Examine the width of the tree branches and remove any thick branches from the surface; the branches of the tree should be thickest at the bottom, gradually narrowing since the work their way up the back. Consistently use concave pruning shears when eliminating heavy divisions.

Trim any branches that have grown outside the shape you desire to your tree.

Pinch back new growth each spring or fall, before or after the growing season, gripping the tip of the shoot securely between your thumb and index finger and pulling it off with your other hand, permitting the shoot to break naturally at its weakest point. Shorten new development or remove it if you don’t like where it is, but never remove all the tree’s newest growth at once.

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