Q: I would like my nine-foot-tall tea olives to fill in with leaves at the bottom
half. How can I make that happen?
A: This is tough. One option is to prune off the top half of your shrub, which
will force the dormant leaf buds to start growing below the pruning cut.
Dormant buds will not start growing if they are further than ten inches away
from the pruning cut. You can’t clip the top of the shrub and expect buds
several feet down to make leaves.
If you are unwilling to do severe pruning, another option is to simply hide the
bare branches with vertical plants nearby. I particularly like autumn fern,
nandina, and aucuba for this. They might require occasional pruning but that’s
easy to accomplish.