How to Prune Sweet Olive Trees

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Always make clean cuts and remove limbs and branches at their point of origin. Do not remove more than one-third of the foliage at one time unless pruning to stimulate new growth on old or misshapen trees.


There are two spring-blooming varieties of sweet olive, Osmanthus delavayi and Osmanthus americanus, which should be pruned as soon as the blooms have faded in mid-spring or early summer. Sweet olive trees that are pruned heavily may take a few years to bloom again.

Sweet olive trees, also called tea olives, are evergreens that can reach heights of up to 30 feet, depending upon the variety. In fall the trees produce small white flowers that are incredibly fragrant. Sweet olive trees do not require extensive pruning, but look best when trimmed regularly to control their shape. They can also be cut back to the desired size, making them a good choice for gardeners with limited space. Most varieties of sweet olive should be pruned in early spring, before new growth begins.


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Step 1

Prune to control shape and size in early spring. Remove the branches back to their point of origin and follow the natural shape of the tree.

Step 2

Clip off any branches that are crossed or rubbing against one another. This will allow more light to reach the center of the tree and will increase the number of blooms that develop.

Step 3

Remove dead, diseased or damaged foliage as necessary.

Step 4

Trim back to a height of 6 to 8 inches if many branches begin to die or if the tree has developed an unattractive shape.



Annita Lawson

Annita Lawson has been working as a freelance writer since 2004. Her work has been published in various Web and print outlets, including The Dabbling Mum, A Virtuous Woman and Pediatrics for Parents. Lawson is pursuing an Associate of Arts degree at Southeast Kentucky Community College. She enjoys sharing all that she has learned about parenting, healthy eating and living a frugal lifestyle.