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Olive Trees

Olive trees (Olea europaea) have become trendy fashionable in the last few years as they are easy to look after and offer a touch of the Mediterranean in the garden. They are grown for their ornamental value as they will not often produce fruit at least in any significant quantity. You can buy them as small trees or very old architectural plants which can still be grown in pots. Different cultivars will tolerate varied degrees of frost protection.

Olive trees require plenty of light so they should be placed in the sunniest position you can.

They will tolerate drought but they will respond to regular watering. The smaller and younger the tree is, the more sensitive it is to drought. How much water you use and how often you water depends on the size of the tree, the size of the pot and the weather. The growing medium should be moist during the growing season and watering should be reduced in the winter without allowing the growing medium to dry out completely.

Olive trees will respond to regular feeding. We recommend Olive Focus, a liquid fertiliser specifically formulated for olive trees based on our Growth Technology’s experience with olive groves in Australia. It is easy and simple convenient to use. Just dilute 10 ml per litre of water and use with every watering during the growing season. 

Olive trees will rarely need pruning in the UK as growth is not excessive and growth does not need to be steered towards fruits. However, it is beneficial to pinch young olive trees to encourage branching and a good shape, as well as to remove dead or diseased branches.

Olive trees should be planted in pots with plenty of drainage and a loam-based growing medium that drains well.  It is important they do not get waterlogged. Only repot them when they have overgrown their pots, in a slightly larger pot.

Leaf Drop

Leaf drop may occur even in older trees if temperatures drop below -10°C in the winter or if the plant gets too dry in the summer, so you will need to adjust the growing environment accordingly and frost-protect the tree or water regularly as applicable. This should not be confused with some natural leaf drop around April when new growth starts and the tree drops some of the old leaves.

Diseases

A free-draining growing medium is the best prevention for soil-borne fungal diseases such as Phytophthora and Verticilium.

Pests

The most common pests are mealybugs and scale insects which can be treated with SB Plant Invigorator, an environmentally-friendly pest killer. Use according to instructions.

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