Wild Olive Pre-Bonsai First Styling Advice

Hi guys! This is my first time posting here, hope to learn a lot from the community. Right now, I need help with my new olive tree.

This here is a wild olive yamadori from the island of Crete (in Greece).

You’ll notice it’s not the kind of tree Ryan spoke about in his olive videos, this one does not bear fruit and has tiny leaves, and its form is the natural olive form (still very much twisted and gnarly and with tons of naturally occurring deadwood).

Here are a few more views, as well as a potting suggestion from the guy that gave it to me.

My main dilemma is:

  • Should I chop off the section of the trunk that currently forms the apex to force growth in the lateral direction to the right, or do I keep that growth and remove the growth/deadwood to the right of the apex?

Here’s how the first situation would look (roughly):

And here’s a rough look at the second situation:

Clearly, the second situation is far less invasive and dramatic, but I’m also not too sure on my feelings about how it looks. I feel like the first situation would give rise to some nice taper, but I’m unsure of how it would affect the health of the tree, what would be the appropriate time and method to perform the operation.

Thanks in advance to anyone who chimes in!


I don’t have answers for all your questions — I think any olive specific info I could add would just be parroting what Ryan says in the olive videos — but I think you have a really special tree here and would love to see you keep everything instead of chopping off various portions. For a start, I would just style the foliage bearing branches and see where the design takes you. I think the first or second picture is your best front but you get some good perspective in the movement of the dead wood in picture three so maybe somewhere between picture three and then either one or two.


I think you could create a masterpiece with your olive. You could have a cascading branch on the right (view 4) , nice compact apex and do some awesome carving on the main trunk. It will take a few years but would be well worth the effort. I did try to draw it for you but I’m no piccasso and it looked awful.

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WOW. Just WOW.
Welcome Aleksander. Nice tree. Hits all of the high notes of a outstanding olive bonsai… wild olive yamadori from the island of Crete…
I have killed two olive bonsai ( relative young & small nursery stock ); so , I have no help in design. However, you could post this to Ryan’s Forum Q A. It’s closed for this week. Hit it Monday AM (our time…)
I will be watching. Post the trees developement in the next year! (I like your forum name!)

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Thanks man, that sounds awesome. I tried to bring a couple branches down today, I feel like something needs to bring the eye down to the base on the right hand side, like you suggested. There’s a few years to go before this becomes a masterpiece!

Who knows, maybe when it’s time to repot, I’ll discover something interesting beneath the surface and it’ll take this into a new direction. Until then, it’s gonna look something like this:

That branch on the right really sucks but hopefully some serendipitous idea comes to me about what to do with that one.

BTW I would love to see your shitty Picasso drawing lol

Thanks! I’ll be sure to post it Monday for the Q&A, I’d love to get some live feedback.

I tried doing some preliminary wiring, just following how the branches wanted to go. There are a few suspicious branches but I feel like this is the direction I wanna take it for now though I don’t really know how to execute my vision lol.