If you are growing olive trees indoors, you must have many questions about the care and maintenance of olive trees. Without a doubt, regular pruning is a necessary part of caring for olive trees in pots. Because by pruning olive trees in pots correctly, you control not only its height and functionality but as well encourage vigorous growth for better olive fruit production.

So how to prune olive trees in pots correctly? There are some basic olive trees in pots pruning requirements you should know as not to damage their natural growth process. First, you must remove cracked, diseased, or dead branches. Then, clip off root suckers or water shoots. After this, you can start shaping your potted olive trees by eliminating crossing branches and controlling new growths. It is fine to cut off 1/3 branches but most important is to know when to stop. Cause over-pruning olive trees in pots may overstimulate the tree and cause stress.

For this reason, I explained the whole process of how to prune olive trees in pots in this guide.  Even if you are a beginner grower, you will learn fundamental olive tree pruning skills in no time. These pruning tips do an amazing job and help to boost your olive tree growth significantly. Well, you must prune regularly by following this guide step by step to achieve the best results.

How to Prune Olive Trees in Pots?

1.     Disinfect Your Pruning Tools

Before getting started to prune olive trees in pots, you should plan and prepare everything. Collect your pruning tools and gloves.

In order to avoid any transferable tree diseases, always disinfect your pruning tools. For this matter, 10 percent bleach that contains 1 part bleach and 9 parts water is a perfect solution. Leave your tools for 5-10 minutes in bleach mixture.

  • Bypass pruners labor fine for trimming small olive tree branches less than 1/2 inch = 1.2 cm in diameter
  • Lopping shears prune 1/2- to 1-1/2 inch (1.2 cm to 2.5 cm) diameter branches
  • Pruning saw is a great tool for larger branches of your olive tree

Mainly, bypass pruners are enough to prune olive trees in pots.  Tough, if the olive tree is bigger, lopping shears or pruning saw could be beneficial to use.ir?t=oliviadaolive 20&l=am2&o=1&a=B01HHK9JG6

2.     Remove root suckers

Before any pruning cuts are made, start with removing any root suckers that grow up from the ground in order to stop them from using your tree nutrients and water.

Cut them with bypass pruners as far down below soil level as possible. For instance, these root suckers can be clipped off at any time throughout the growing season.

3.     Cut off deadwood or diseased branches

Olive tree branches develop throughout the year so make sure you observe your potted olive tree and remove diseased, cracked, or dead branches. The purpose of removing diseased or dead branches is to maintain good olive tree hygiene. As well, to prevent diseases from spreading further and killing the olive tree, or infecting other plants in your house.

For a fact, after pruning diseased branches, always disinfect your pruning tools immediately to avoid spreading disease elsewhere.

How to cut off deadwood or diseased branches?

Simply cut back to at least 6 inches (= 15 cm) inside healthy wood. Importantly, any cuts you make should be at a 45-degree angle in order not to damage the main stalk.

4.     Clip off any water shoots

Clip off any water shoots back to the parent branch of your olive tree. Because water shoots are forceful young branches that commonly sprout straight up from stronger branches. In order not to suck nutrients and crowd other healthy and productive branches, it’s better to clip water shoots off.

Since water shoots appear during tree growth throughout the year, so they can be pruned on a spot at any time.

5.     Eliminate crossing or rubbing branches

In order to encourage healthy olive tree growth with sunlight reaching all the branches and avoid wounds from rubbing into each other, it is beneficial to eliminate any crossing or rubbing branches. As well, crossing branches cutting ensures air circulation which protects from bugs and parasites.

Just cut these branches back to 1/4 inch (= 0.6 cm) above the branch collar. For such olive tree branches, pruning is always good timing late winter, after the tree has finished the fruiting season, but before the new growing season begins.

6.     Clip any long, straight branches

After the first 5 steps done, clip any long, straight branches 1/4 inch (= 0.6 cm) above an outward-facing bud to encourage branching. Basically, a potted olive tree will produce more olive fruits and have a better shape if it has many average length branches versus to a few long, straight branches.

7.     Control overgrowing branches

In order to shape a potted olive tree, cut back any overgrowing branches to 1/4 inch (= 0.6 cm) above a healthy bud to preserve a uniform shape. Such pruning olive tree for shape type is done in late winter after olive fruit harvest but before new growth begins.

Remember, don’t over prune olive trees in pots! Part of the olive tree pruning process is to know when to stop. For instance, it is absolutely ok to prune 1/3 of your tree branches, but don’t cut more. Because over-pruning can overstimulate your olive tree and cause stress.

prune olive trees in pots example

Above: this is my little potted olive tree and an example of how to prune new growths to shape and keep a crown head. Red stripes show the cut place

How to Shape your Olive Tree?

For instance, there are many varieties of olive trees, thus their look and shape depend on how you prune olive trees in pots. Remember you are the decision-maker how you want your olive tree to look like: wild or topiary tree look, so you choose the best shaping & pruning olive tree option for you. For this reason here are couple of tips for you on how to shape and prune olive trees in pots.

  • Topiary Tree Look

If you want your olive trees to look like topiary trees (a similar example in the image above),  clip them around through the leaves and shape the tree head as you want. Don’t be fussy about how you prune it and don’t worry too much. Just nip new growths and send all the growth energy inwards to cerate a dense crown head.

Basically, follow mandatory steps 1-4, then use your creativity and imagination and shape the head of your potted olive tree as you want.

  • Wild Tree Look

If you want to keep your olive tree look wild and open crown head, prune very little, and leave the branches to grow freely.

Follow all 7 pruning steps and keep a shrub-like look.

When is Best Time to Prune?

The best time to prune olive trees in pots is late winter after olive fruit harvest but before new growth begins. However, the regular maintenance and care of an olive tree should be done on a regular basis:

  • Young olive trees can be pruned as often as needed to form a shape
  • Pruning mature olive trees is best after every harvest, early spring
  • Bonsai olive tree pruning is done in spring, ideally early March. Leaves pinching can be done from April to October
  • Pruning neglected olive trees must be done immediately all year round except winter as to avoid the frost damage for cut branches
  • Thus, the root suckers and water shoots should be removed anytime during the growing season
  • Furthermore, deadwood and diseased or damaged branches should be cut on a spot

Things You Need to Prune Potted Olive Tree


Once you’ve followed all the steps, the potted olive tree has just the right amount of leaves and branches. Therefore, each branch has enough room to get thicker and the olive fruits can reach their full potential.

Without a doubt, the regular care and pruning is key for vigor olive trees in pots. You will see great results of your hard work and your olive tree will live happily and decorate your home environment. Then after the successful olive fruit harvest, you can make your own homemade olive oil and serve it proudly on a dining table.

In addition, if you are just enjoying a growing olive tree at home, but do not expect a fruitful year. You can always purchase our Oliviada premium quality Kalamata olive oil and enrich the taste and nutrition of your daily meal:

You might also like

Best Soil for Olive Trees in Pots

Best Fertilizer for Olive Trees in Pots

Problems with Olive Trees in Pots & Solutions

How to Grow Olive Trees Indoors?

How to Revive Olive Trees in Pots?

How do Olives Grow? Planting & Care