Best way to encourage spindly thin trunk to thicken

cfox248(3)July 4, 2014


I'm not sure if this is the correct forum, but it IS a tree, so...

i recently bought an olive tree from an online nursery. They are grown from branch cuttings. It arrived, it's about a foot and a half tall with all the branches coming off the main trunk at the top. The branch that was cut to create the tree has a nice root system started, but it's THIN! Spindly thin, and has a sharp bend in the middle where it forked at one point and the other branch cut off. It can't support its own weight, it came to me staked on a heavy rod of bamboo.

What is the best way to get the trunk to thicken?! I've always been of the mind that staking a tree will not help it, as it's being completely supported then and has no need to grow a thicker trunk. But it HAS to be staked. How can I encourage thickening? It is outside in a big pot right now.

I would also like it to be a bit straighter. I was thinking of tying it tightly to a straight stake while the trunk is still young and whippy and bendable, and in a few months when it has trained into the straighter shape, untie it and stake it similar to the image linked below to allow some movement (I've heard trunk flexation and wind will thicken it) but not allow it to fall over. Here are some pics:


Here is a link that might be useful:

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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

first thing to do...IMHO ...

is get it potted into a media specific to trees ... yours looks way to peaty for a plant that would prefer a drink of water.. and then near total draining ...

and since you will be doing that... you can plant it in the pot... so that the root flare is at the soil surface ...

and after that.. i suggest you leave it alone for about two years... before you go all pruning and training on it...

you have a lot of goals and expectations.. on a plant you have had.. for mere hours...

i presume that 3 by your name is zone??? .. and you have it potted to be an indoor plant for half the year???

if so.. i bet you can get a lot of help in the houseplant or container forums ... if not the fruit forum in regard to olives ... presuming its an eating olive ....

its a tree.. you are going to have to have a lot of patience.. on how fast things happen with trees... and try not to kill it with too much love in the mean time...

good luck


    Bookmark   July 4, 2014 at 4:12PM
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Yep, zone 3! I just planted it - Olive trees need really really well draining soil, so I bought a bag of soil from the local garden center (none of that Miracle Gro stuff, it's good stuff) and cut it with pine park and perlite to make it drain well. it's what I use for my citrus as well. It does like just as much water as the next plant but they're very prone to root rot from what I've heard.... Is that not a good mix?

It will be inside with me half the year., in a nice bright sunny window with supplemental light and humidity.

My main plan is to leave it alone! I know you can't prune a tree and expect the trunk to thicken. I dabble in Bonsai as well and so know something about trunk training, and olives are oft used as Bonsai - so, for now I staked it to a takk straight piece of bamboo so the trunk will straighten, and I'm just going to let it be. It will be removed once the trunk is straight and just staked so it can stand, and then it'll be free to grow as it wants.

I will plant it a bit closer to the surface for sure. I'd planted it pretty deep, hoping for more stability....

"its a tree.. you are going to have to have a lot of patience." thanks for this. I have lofty goals and aspirations for this little guy, and you're right, I've only had him a few hours. I will raise him a bit, and then just let it be!

    Bookmark   July 4, 2014 at 7:55PM
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I've heard the same about wind helping trees (tomato plants etc) I used a fan on tomato seedlings in the past. Maybe once yours gets a bit more thickness, put a fan by it for a bit each day, or hopefully you can get a breeze in summer. If it thickens before fall, that is. My 2 cents.

    Bookmark   July 5, 2014 at 8:47PM
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