The mastic tree (Pistacia lentiscus), also known as the evergreen pistache, is a drought-tolerant member of this Ancardiacea family that can thrive in poor soil conditions. Historically developed for medicinal purposes, mastics generate a leaf sap still utilized in the current food and makeup products. This native of the Mediterranean area grows aggressively in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 9 to 11, and is often planted as an ornamental tree in gardens at the southeastern United States. A commonly low-maintenance plant, the tree grows overlarge, and requires regular pruning to keep an attractive shape.
Prune the tree in the winter, during the season, to avoid causing damage. Between cuts, disinfect the pruning shears by spraying them with a solution of 1 part bleach to 3 parts water.
Remove any dead or diseased branches and clean out all leaves and brush from around the base of the tree.
Thin out crowding in the inside of the mastic tree to improve sun and atmosphere access. Eliminate branches that rub against one another by cutting away the weakest.
Prune back flames which harvest around the base of this tree. Mastic trees can form multiple trunks from these shoots, so keep just the amount of shoots required to form the desirable number of tree trunks.
Work on the total shape of this tree. Mastic trees are like bonsai trees, and can be trimmed into a number of shapes. Ornamental mastics are generally rounded or vase-shaped.
Prune the buds on the outer branches to boost side growth, giving the tree a fuller appearance. Cut growth on the lower part of the tree to stretch the trunks and create the tree look less like a bush.