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Fruitless Olive Trees Santa Barbara County, CA
European Olive trees have been planted in many California landscapes because of their beauty, the ease with which they can be transplanted, and the instantly mature appearance they can give to a site. These are the positive attributes of European Olive trees, but European Olive trees have one major downfall. European Olive fruit can make a landscape messy and when planted next to a sidewalk or driveway the mess can be tracked into your house.
Controlling European Olive fruit can be accomplished in three ways, and each method of controlling European Olive fruit has pros and cons.
The easiest, and least expensive, way to control fruit production in European Olive trees is to spray the open blossoms with a high pressure stream of water. Knocking off the blossoms in the spring will reduce olive fruit production later in the year. This technique needs to be done throughout the blooming period and is most effective on shorter European Olive trees.
Another method to control European Olive fruit is to apply a couple acid sprays while the trees are blooming. The drawback of acid sprays is making sure to time the treatments for maximum effectiveness and limiting spray drift onto non-target plants. More than one acid spray is necessary because all the blooms do not open at the same time. Yellowing of the foliage may occur when spraying a European Olive to control fruit production, but this does not cause significant harm to the tree.
Lastly, a growth retardant can be sprayed on European Olive trees before the blossoms form. Although effective, this type of olive tree spray can have a negative impact on the health of the olive tree. A growth retardant olive tree spray will cause leaves to be thinner than normal. Repeated olive tree spraying with growth retardants may cause the tree to gradually decline because it cannot produce enough food for itself because of the reduced leaf size.
All of these olive tree sprays are designed to reduce the blossoms, which will lead to reduced fruit reduction. The most effective method, the growth retardant olive tree spray, is also the most harmful, so it should not be repeated year after year. To minimize negative impacts on tree health a homeowner may want to consider rotating each year between the three different olive tree spray methods.