Elaeagnus Angustifolia (Russian Olive)


(Dan Wiederrecht) #1

Hello everyone,
I have a few questions on this Elaeagnus, but I’ll give you the history first.

I collected this tree early this spring before the growing season, on about March 12th. I cut the main trunk and first large branch before collection, leaving no actual growing branches, only the trunk and a hope for back-budding. Before potting I completely washed the root mass, reducing large roots all the way around the trunk, and I also trimmed away the base/tap root until it was flush with the bulk of radial roots. I potted into an overly large box, knowing that it will take some time and serious growing to build branches that are in scale with this size of trunk. It’s planted in straight pumice.

June 14th, are the next set of photos. You can see several small branches, and new buds emerging in numerous locations.

Fast-forward to now, mid July, and the tree is growing like crazy. I only used liquid organic fertilizer up until about a week ago, when I finally got around to placing cakes near the base. The largest new branch is over 26" long, and nearing 1/2" thick. As you can see, there are multiple branches emerging from each budding point.

My intention has been to leave the tree alone for this entire year. And that is still my intention, unless it will be unwise to leave it until next year.

So here are my questions:

  1. It’s growing so strong, should I do any branch selection? I don’t think we’ll see any harmful bulging this year, but will it hurt to reduce the number of branches to the one’s I’d like to keep.

  2. With branches already becoming this thick, should I add any movement, or will they still be flexible next year? They are still soft and fleshy. How does that affect wiring?

  3. Anything else I should think of, or know about this species?

Thanks in advance!


(Dan Wiederrecht) #2


(Dan Wiederrecht) #3


(Dan Wiederrecht) #4


(Dan Wiederrecht) #5


(Jonas Dupuich) #6

Wow - nice tree! Looks like for now the trick will be finding a way to slow it down. I like your idea of letting it grow this year so the roots get established, and it looks like the tree will be ready for downsizing the pot and a more moist soil mix this coming winter.

As for the branches, if the tree still has reserve energy, cutting back hard will only stimulate more growth. If it makes sense to use some of the existing branches in the final design, now’s the time to get some curves in there before it’s too late, though you could also remove the overly large branches and work with the replacement shoots as long as the tree keeps budding back. It might also make sense to start thinking about the apex. At some point there will be a transition from the large cut at the top to a smaller branch and now could be a good time to think about how that might work.

One thing I’ve learned is that when trees are really vigorous it can make sense to leave branches longer than you need initially and reduce them over time. This helps avoid sending all of that vigor into the final branches which could quickly become too thick.

I’ll be curious to hear if there are specific tricks for this variety - it looks like a strong one!


(Dan Wiederrecht) #7

Thanks! Your thoughts all make sense, and several things I had not thought of; Especially leaving extra branches to absorb energy.

I’m thinking that in order to get branches thick enough to be in scale with the tree I’ll will need to let the tree grow very strong for a while, and then cut back each section as they get large enough. Am I wrong in this? – I’m really not a fan of huge trunks with just twig branches all the way up. But I obviously don’t want to over-grow them either. – There are several branches coming out in good locations, so I will select a few and put movement into them. :smile:


(Jonas Dupuich) #8

Sounds great to me. The trick is balancing vigor. Typically you’ll let the lower branches run longer so they can thicken and keep the higher branches shorter so they don’t thicken as much. The big exception to this is the trunk - whichever shoot becomes the new trunk will need to grow quite a bit to make a good transition.

Looking forward to seeing the progress!