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Evergreen Pistachio

Updated: Mar 18, 2020

Pistacia lentiscus

The Evergreen Pistachio or Mastic Tree can grow to a low spreading dense irregular evergreen shrub or tree. The tree’s resin is used for adhesives, chewing gum, in the photography and lithography and for medicinal purpose. Native to Mediterranean Europe, it grows on rocky outcrops and dry mountainsides. It has been harvested for 2400 years for its mastic and its berries which are used for making sweets or liqueurs.

Pistachio, Pistacia lentiscus, Bonsai
Pistachio, Pistacia lentiscus, Bonsai

Styles: It is grown as a medium to large branching, and often collected from the wild, they can be found in just about every style type and shape.

Position: The Pistacia love a full sun position and does the best in a hot, dryish local. It is very frost hardy but is best protected over winter. It has been grown successful indoor but requires copious amounts of light, so when grown indoors, additional lighting should be provided for it to survive.

Watering: Though drought tolerant, this species thrives on lots of water especially when it is flowering. It does not like being waterlogged. Water thoroughly early in the morning to ensure that the bonsai has the water when it needs it and is not sitting in water overnight.

Feeding: Feed with an organic fertiliser. If using a liquid nutrient feed every two weeks, if using a pelletised version feed every two months. It is tolerant of most Ph level, conditions, lime can be used to balance out any excessive acidity of the organic feed. Feed profusely during the flowering and fruiting periods.

Pistachio, Pistacia lentiscus, Bonsai
Pistachio, Pistacia lentiscus, Bonsai

Repotting: Repotting every year helps keep its fast-growing roots in control. Use a free-draining soil, of loam, sharp sand and well-mulched bark in equal parts. Alternatively, you can use Akadama and pumice in a ratio of 2:1 by volume.

Pruning: Prune back current year’s growth to leave 3 lateral shoots or three active nodes. Structural pruning and pruning of thick branches should only be undertaken in late winter or early spring. Stem pruning and pinching encourage smaller leaves and shorter internodes. With older trees pinch apical bud when the branch is still green.

Wiring: The Pistachio is best styled with the ‘clip and grow’ method. However, if wiring is required on some heavier branches then wire in autumn, and remove wire before bud break in spring. Leaving wire on longer may result in scaring off the branches.

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