Olive tree care tips
The Olive Tree is an evergreen plant. The olive tree only blossoms at low winter temperatures and many hours of sunshine in spring. The flowers of the olive tree are cream-colored and appear at the end of May, beginning of June. If the temperature is high enough and the summer-long enough, there is a chance of fruiting and ripening.
The (olive tree) feels best at home in a sunny place in well-drained clay soil, but this can also be sandy soil.
It is safest to keep an olive tree as a tub plant, but the older olive trees can remain outside and develop new shoots after frost damage.
Olives are at their juiciest when they grow in deep and nourishing soil. The ideal soil for an olive tree in clay soil, but olive trees thrive on any type of soil, even sand. The soil should not be too wet and ideally never dry out, although if deeply rooted olive trees can withstand drought for a long time.
If necessary, mix the garden soil with clay granules or compost to make the soil airier. As olive trees in the field, from the moment the small white flowers open, fertilize the soil every month with a granule fertilizer (formula 10-10-10) or dried cow manure pellets. Do not fertilize the olive tree after October.
In the hot climate zones, it is necessary to water your olive tree 2 to 3 times a week, especially in light and sandy soils. Do not keep the soil too wet, and make sure the soil is at least 75% dry before watering the olive tree again, as the roots are prone to rot. Drip irrigation is used in many olive groves, but this reduces the depth of the roots and makes them more susceptible to drought. The olive tree must catch on.
Pruning Olive tree
In itself, it is not necessary to prune an olive tree, but form pruning can be applied. For example, one can prune the tops of the longest branches (3-4-year-old twigs) of the olive tree to promote growth from the crown, so that one gets a full tree. Leave branches of the olive tree at least 20 cm long. Preferably in spring prune, the olive tree so that the pruning wound can close during the growing season.
Olive trees in tub or planter
If you want to leave your olive tree (only the older olive trees) in a tub or planter in winter, it is wise to transplant the olive tree in a tub or container that is 1/3 larger than the tub in which the olive tree is delivered. It is advisable to cover the inside of the container with temper or bubble wrap to prevent the root ball from freezing.
If necessary, you can cover the top of the soil in the container with 5 cm of French bark, also to prevent the root ball from freezing. An olive tree in a tub or planter is always more vulnerable than an olive tree in the ground. That is why it is wise to keep a close eye on the following points:
Water the olive tree after a period of frost if the soil has dried out due to frost.
In the event of extreme frost, the olive tree can, if desired, be temporarily wrapped in fleece and heat cable or light hose.
When the soil in the pot feels dry about 3 cm from the surface, water the olive tree extensively.
Olive trees in winter
It is safest to keep an olive tree as a tub plant, but the older olive trees (with a trunk circumference of more than 20-30 cm) can remain outside in the open ground and endure up to 15 degrees of short-lived frost, and develop new shoots after any frost damage. In case of severe prolonged frost below -8/-10 degrees, wrap the crown and trunk of the olive tree with e.g.
light hose or heat cable which you turn on with severe frost, pull fleece or jute (breathable material) over it to protect the olive tree from easterly winds. Remove the protection from time to time and allow the olive tree to vent. Remove snow from the leaves. In a wet winter, you can cover the root ball of the olive tree with e.g.
a piece of plastic or board to prevent the root ball from getting too wet during the winter. It is essential that the excess water can be drained off sufficiently quickly; this can be achieved by applying a layer of gravel or hydro grains at the bottom of the planting hole. With a potted olive tree, there must be sufficient holes at the bottom of the pot so that the water can drain out quickly. It is also wise to first apply a layer of gravel or hydro grains to an olive tree in a pot for optimal drainage.
During a wet winter with a prolonged period of frost, an olive tree can lose some or all of its leaves. After the winter, you can use your nail to scratch away a piece of bark from the twig. If the area below is green, the olive tree will produce new leaves on these twigs. You can fertilize your olive tree in March so that the tree will quickly produce fresh leaves.
Olive trees inside
If you place an olive tree inside, choose a spot in the room where it is directly exposed to daylight (at least 6 hours of sunlight per day). A sunny, south-facing window is ideal. Or place the olive tree under a skylight or a UV lamp (e.g., in an office building). Make sure that the olive tree is not too close to vents, radiators, and too close to the window, which can act as a kind of magnifying glass and fry the leaves.
The olive tree can drop all its leaves after it has been put inside. This is a kind of shock reaction. If you continue to water and take care of the olive tree, the olive tree will start to form new leaves after just a few weeks when the soil in the pot feels dry about 3 cm from the surface, water the olive tree extensively.
The olive tree will need less water in autumn and winter. These are the seasons in which the olive trees usually rest, but do not let the soil dry out completely. Olive trees indoors are more susceptible to spider mites (whitish lint in the tree) and aphids. Check the olive tree once every two weeks for these symptoms. If there is a red spider mite or aphid in the olive tree, you can buy a remedy at your garden center to treat the tree. Follow the instructions on the packaging.
Problems with olive trees
When the olive leaves start to curl and fall off, the olive tree is too moist. If the leaves turn yellow and fall off, the olive tree does not get enough water. Shield or aphids can also occur in the olive tree (often only in the smaller trees). If there is spider mite or aphid in the tree, you can buy a remedy at your garden center to treat the tree. To do so, follow the instructions on the packaging.
How to take care of an olive tree in a pot
Planting an olive tree in a pot. How do you go about it? For proper drainage, first, apply a significant layer of hydro grains to the bottom of the pot. Then apply a large layer of Mediterranean soil. Then place the olive tree with a root ball and all in the pot. Fill the space between the root ball and the pot wall with Mediterranean soil.
Press the soil firmly as well. Make sure that you end about 3 to 5 cm below the edge of the pot with the soil so that the water does not flow over the pot during watering. Finally, water everything well.
Fertilize the olive tree in the pot
Nutrients in a plant pot run out fairly quickly. Therefore, fertilize an olive tree during the growing season. You can fertilize an olive tree in a pot in two ways. You can apply fertilizer tablets with a slow-acting fertilizer from March around the trunk in the soil. Such a tablet is sufficient for an entire growing season. Or you can feed the olive tree every month from March to October with a liquid fertilizer for olives, figs, and citrus. In the dormant period from late autumn to March, you should not fertilize an olive tree in a pot anymore.
When repotting an olive tree
The best time to repot an olive tree in early spring. The roots then have the whole summer to produce new growth. Take a pot that is one size bigger than the old one. It is also undoubtedly wise to use only new, fresh Mediterranean soil for repotting. If you cannot put an olive tree in a larger pot due to its size, remove the top layer of soil and then apply a new layer of soil.
When pruning an olive tree
Early spring, March/April, is the best time to prune an olive tree in a pot or in the field. Even during the growing season, you can still apply to form pruning, but not much later than the beginning of September. If you prune the tree after September, new growth will not have enough time to harden off before the first frost. How far can you prune an olive tree? Shoots or branches that have grown too long can be pruned back to about 25 cm, but certainly not shorter.
Olive tree overwintering in pots
For the care of a potted olive tree in winter. See frost protection olive tree.