Olive tree adivce

The Olive (Olea europaea is an evergreen tree or shrub native to the Mediterranean, Asia and parts of Africa.

It is short and squat and rarely exceeds 15 meters in height. The silvery green leaves are oblong in shape and the trunk is typically gnarled and twisted.

The Olive has been cultivated since ancient times as a source of oil, fine wood, leaves and fruit for consumption. The fruit is naturally bitter and must be fermented or cured with lye or brine to make it palatable. The trees we stock are capable of producing fruit and often do, but fruit production can be erratic and even mature trees seldom bear well two years in succession.

Olives prefer a calcareous (limey) soil but will grow well in any light soil however poor or dry.They will even thrive in clay as long as some gritty material can be incorporated and drainage is adequate.
To ensure you give your olive tree the best possible start in life, follow these basic instructions:

  • Site in the sunniest position possible, ideally south or west facing and with some protection from cold, drying winds.
  • Plant in free-draining soil and never allow roots to become waterlogged.
  • Olives can grow successfully in containers for many years. Use a mix of good quality multipurpose compost mixed 50/50 with John Innes No.3 and a few handfuls of grit to aid drainage. Never over-pot your olive and always re-pot just to a slightly larger pot than the one it is in. Raise the pot slightly off the surface it is sitting on so water can drain away freely.
  • Prune to maintain the required size and habit. Prune lightly in mid-spring, more heavily in early to mid summer. Never prune in autumn or winter as the wounds need some heat to heal over before the dormant winter period.
  • Feed with seaweed extract fortnightly between May and September. Olives can tolerate fairly cold winter temperatures, down to -7C in most cases, without needing protection. If it is likely that the temperature will drop below this level for more than 24 hours it is best to wrap the crown and trunk with several layers of horticultural fleece to protect from frost.

Olives in pots are always at risk of their roots freezing. This could lead to the plant suffering from drought through not being able to take up water or worse still, the roots will be damaged which can result in poor growth or death of the tree. In order to prevent the roots freezing, wrap several layers of bubble plastic around the pot and secure with twine.

If you would like further information, please don’t hesitate to Contact us.