How to Prune Pistachio Trees


Pistachio, known botanically as pistacia vera, are flowering and fruiting or nut bearing trees that thrive in dry, warm climates and deep, nutrient-rich soil. As dioecious trees, pistachio trees are male or female and need one another to cross pollinate and fertilize their flowers. Pruning regularly on young and middle age trees and less so on older trees as little new branching will result and nut harvest may be impacted. Conduct any significant pruning in the late fall or winter when the tree is dormant.

Step 1

Prune aggressively during the first five years of life to create an open center with three to five main branches well spaced or a single main branch emanating from the trunk with a secondary leader branch--think of an lopsided V-shape. Remove weaker, smaller branches and water sprouts as needed.

Step 2

Encourage vigorous and dense branching by making heading cuts deep on the branches to just above a lateral bud and leaf. Place the cut roughly 1/4 inch above the leaf node.

Step 3

Conduct a light spring pruning to remove any dying, damaged or disease branches that did not survive the winter. Place cuts back to the point of healthy wood and just 1/4 inch above a bud.

Things You'll Need

  • Secateurs
  • Pole saw
  • Long-handled loppers


  • University of Georgia: Pistachio
  • University of California Davis: Calendar of Operations for Home Gardeners
Keywords: pistachio nut tree, pruning a pistachio tree, cutting back pistacia vera tree

About this Author

An omni-curious communications professional, Dena Kane has more than 17 years of experience writing and editing content for online publications, corporate communications, business clients, industry journals, as well as film and broadcast media. Kane studied political science at the University of California, San Diego.