How to Grow Boswellia

The boswellia tree, also commonly known as the frankincense tree due to its fragrant sap, is grown for ornamental and commercial purposes. The boswellia is a native of warmer climates such as India and the Middle East. Boswellia trees are relatively trees that can be grown in sunny regions that not subjected to frost or cold winters.

Things You'll Need

  • Boswellia sapling
  • Shovel
  • Tree fertilizer
  • Tree stake
  • Rope
  • Pruning shears

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Choose the spot you want to grow boswellia. Boswellia require full sun. It can be grown in all types of well-drained soil, but does best in drier, sandier soil. Remember that the tree branches from its base much like a shrub and requires up to 15 feet of open space around it.

Use the shovel to break up the ground where you want to plant the tree. Remove large rocks and pieces of debris, though the soil does not need to be fine. Wild boswellia often grow in rocky soil.

Mix a single application of tree starter fertilizer into the ground where you will plant the boswellia. While adult boswellia are hardy and can grow in nutrient-deficient soil, new saplings do best with an initial fertilizer application. Apply according to the fertilizer manufacturer's guidelines; different brands vary in their application methods. Tree starter fertilizer may be obtained online (see "Resources" below) or from your local garden supply store.

Use the shovel to dig a hole in the prepared, fertilized dirt. The hole should be the width and depth of the boswellia's root ball. Place the boswellia sapling into the hole to measure its size. The base of the boswellia sapling should be level with the sides of the hole. Place the tree in the hole and fill in the sides with soil. Push a stake into the earth near the sapling and rope the sapling to the stake. The stake will support the boswellia until it is established, when you can remove the stake and rope.

Water the boswellia twice daily until new growth emerges, signifying that the sapling has taken root. After the sapling has established itself, reduce watering to once every two to three days. Boswellia prefer dry soil. However, individual garden micro-environments vary and may require you to water more or less. Observe the boswellia tree to gauge your watering intervals. If the tree begins to turn brown, increase watering.

Trim back the boswellia tree annually using sharp pruning shears. Cut back a third of the tree's oldest branches during the spring when the tree emerges from its winter dormant state.

Tips & Warnings

  • Boswellia are drought-resistant and do well in xeriscapes.
  • The boswellia will die if grown in areas that experience frost.


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