When And How To Prune A Tea Olive Osmanthus Shrub or Tree
Tea Olives, what many gardeners call "sweet olive," scientifically known as Osmanthus, can be grown as a shrub or "limbed up' to form a very attractive, small evergreen tree, which makes a fine specimen anywhere in the sunny to partially shaded landscape. As a shrub, Tea Olive are perfect for use as a fragrant hedge or privacy screen, as a corner plant on homes and other structures, or as a specimen shrub. Some are smaller shrubs and useful in the landscape as hedges or in home foundation plantings.

Pruning Tea Olive

Tea Olive do not require pruning, however respond well to it for shaping purposes; to form hedges or very attractive small trees.

When To Prune Tea Olive

Light pruning of Tea Olive to remove a stray or damaged branch can be performed any time of year. Shearing of Tea Olive can be performed any time of year, however, to avoid damaging new growth that emerges after pruning, I recommend ceasing pruning two months prior to the average first frost date in your area. Heavy pruning to reduce the size or to tree form your Tea Olive should be performed in late winter, while the plant is dormant.

Selective Pruning Of Ligustrum

Use a sharp pair of bypass hand pruners to selectively remove stray or damaged branches. Make your cut at a point along the branch just above the main form of the plant. 

Pruning Tea Olive For Hedges

When using hedge trimmers or clippers for a formal shaped hedge, lightly shear the plant to desired shape several times throughout the growing season. 

Tree Forming A Tea Olive

Tea Olive are very easy to tree form. It's best to wait until your shrub is about 4 feet tall to begin the tree forming process. At that time, select a trunk(s) you want to keep. Then remove unwanted trunks (main branches that emerge from the base of the shrub), making sure that removing them will not harm the look and shape of the canopy. When removing a trunk make your cut as close to the ground or to the base of the plant as possible, without cutting into the wood of an intersecting trunk.

After removing any trunks, start your tree-forming at the base of the plant by removing the lateral branches growing from the remaining trunk(s). Continue removing branches until you've reached the desired height and are satisfied with the appearance. Before making your cuts, make sure the removal of a specific branch will not spoil the shape of the canopy. Also, between each cut take a few steps back to take a look at your plant. 

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