Our Xylella Statement
Xylella is a bacterium which restricts the flow of water and nutrients in specific plants (olive trees being one of them). This can unfortunately lead to the eventual death of the infected plant. Xylella is transmitted from tree to tree by insects, mostly Spittle bugs (Froghoppers) which live in nearby vegetation.
Some experts are of the opinion that far from being a recent disease, Xyella has been around for centuries and manifestations have been attributed to other factors. However, an outbreak occurred in Southern Italy in 2013 and made international headlines due to the Italian government’s slow reaction. The infected zone in Puglia has since been quarantined so no trees can be transported from that region. DEFRA (the Department for Environment, Food and Rural affairs) also ensures that there are a set of guidelines in place to stop plants from the area entering the UK.
DEFRA only allow imported olive trees from nurseries that carry a plant passport. To be issued a plant passport the site needs to have regular inspections which enable them to be classed as a disease free zone.
The Olive Grove only source trees from nurseries (with all correct passports) from main land Spain where to this day there has only been one olive tree found with the disease out of hundreds of millions.
The Spittle bug (Froghopper) is not suited to survive the UK winter and needs vegetation to live. All the Spanish nurseries we source our stock from are cleared of grass and weeds leaving the olive trees growing in their pots on gravel. In addition to this, over a year ago, the Olive Grove was the first importer of trees into the UK to have its own independent Xylella checks carried out in conjunction with the Spanish ministry.
We ONLY test plants whilst they are still in Spain.
These measures ensure we only import healthy disease free specimens and keep us in front in the fight to prevent the spread of this isolated disease.
Frequently Asked Questions
The answer is yes! Olive trees are incredibly adaptable and can cope well with intense sunlight, frost, drought and even fire. Being native to the Mediterranean, conditions can go from one extreme to the other. The oldest tree in Spain is 3,500 years old, so they can cope in these conditions. You do however have to be careful with extreme cold. If winters in your area often drop to -15°C for prolonged periods then you may want to avoid growing Olive Trees, however if you wrap or cover your Olive Tree in winter it will be fine in those conditions.
Yes, you can. They need a really bright position but regular water. They really need to be treated like a house plant as most of the moisture can evaporate. They will grow towards light, so they might need spinning monthly to keep the growth even. A saucer may be required if you have carpets or wooden flooring.
This is best done in late spring once the frosts have passed. If you have a natural head olive tree, it might need a hard prune. If it is becoming very spindly and branches have bolted, a hard prune back will be required. This depends on how tall the tree is, but a good 30% would need to be removed. This will encourage the tree to produce new shoots and bush out.
A healthy olive tree should be thick and hard to see through. A light prune on an olive tree in late spring will kickstart the tree into producing new leaves for the season. Clipped trees can be pruned through spring and summer. A cloud or pom pom tree may require two cuts a year to keep the shape tight and thick.
Olives will benefit from the application of a slow release fertilizer in the spring. This should provide nutrients throughout the growing season. Alternatively, our olive tree food can be applied two to three times through spring and summer. It will need watering in, however.
Lastly, a liquid feed like a seaweed extract can be used through summer. These products will help green up the tree’s leaves and mature the fruit.
This is obviously down to personal choice, but there are several deciding factors to consider. Olive trees in pots give you the option of easily relocating the tree if the position is not right or you decide to move house. Thanks to their elevated stance, they also have a more impactful appearance and create a stunning focal point. Watering will need to be frequent, however, and the tree may well need repotting in the future if it is outgrowing its container.
In the ground, an olive tree gives a fantastic natural stance to a border with its evergreen foliage and gnarled bark (on the older trees). It will also need less maintenance, with watering only required in the first few months after planting during periods of drought.
An olive tree is usually bought for its fantastic aged bark, so just bear in mind that once planted, the tree will lower by the height of its container. Some customers bury the tree’s root ball halfway into the ground and build up the soil around it.
When it comes to soil requirements, Olive trees will tolerate either acid or alkaline conditions but good drainage is extremely important. In fact, good drainage is the most important thing to consider when growing olive trees either in containers or in the ground!
We recommend a peat based compost as a general rule, however if the plant is top heavy we suggest using a loam based compost such as John Innes No 3 and the addition of about 20% grit will help a lot with drainage. This will also keep the pot more stable than using peat based compost which is less dense.
When potting up, the roots can be gently teased free of soil to help them establish but be careful not to damage them as this can prevent flowering and fruiting later.
We sell a small number of varieties of Olive Tree here at the olive grove, we have selected the best kind of Olive Trees that can thrive in the UK climate. These olive trees are:
- Arbequina – Self-fertile and a good pollinator for other cultivars. Starts fruiting early (4 years). Relatively cold hardy. Widely adaptable.
- Chemlali – Large, vigorous tree. Small fruit. Self-fertile.
- Picual – Short, bushy tree with particularly gray leaves. Large fruit. Self-fertile.
- Hojiblanca – The name “hojiblanca” translates as “white leaf” and this comes from the leaves’ silvery colour that produces a unique sheen in the sunlight.
We can deliver anywhere in mainland UK. The trees on our website that offer a ‘delivered price’ are sent via a third party. They arrive wrapped and strapped to a pallet within 4-5 days of ordering. This is the most cost effective way of delivery, and the trees are unloaded onto your driveway. The removal of the tree and positioning is then your responsibility.
As this is a pallet service, the company will send an email with a two hour ETA for delivery. Due to the time taken to unload pallets though, we recommend you are home on the day of your delivery, as being specific with times is much harder than for a parcel courier service.
All of our olive trees that do not offer free delivery can be personally delivered by us at an additional charge that can be quoted for you over the phone. Please note the quoted price will be subject to the information regarding access is correct and accurate.
The larger trees are delivered by our own team and vehicles. We need to discuss your access details in this instance, as we try to unload and place the tree in your desired position. Please note that we cannot take trees through houses and do not offer a planting service. We are happy to offer advice but a builder or landscaper would be required for this.
In regards to the heavy or ancient trees, we can provide alternative methods including HIAB lorries, trailers or tail lift vehicles. Given details, we can quote for this over the phone.
Olive Tree Care
If an olive tree starts to drop a lot of leaves, it’s dry. If you shake the trunk and lots fall, it’s a sign that the tree needs help. Typically, in this case, the root ball will have shrunk meaning that water just flies straight out the bottom when watered. A good soak will be needed so that the root ball can absorb moisture once again. We very rarely see over-watered olives.
Containers will need drainage for excess water and, if you plant your tree in the ground, soil will need to be free draining. Olive trees will only struggle in the ground if the area to be planted does not drain. Standing water in a heavy downpour is an obvious sign of this. The tree would in this case need to be raised or drainage would need to be built into the desired planting area.
Olives in pots, containers and raised beds need water all year round. The roots on an olive like to be moist, not soaking. They will take droughts, but it’s best to avoid leaving them for long periods of time like that. Our trees are Spanish but you rarely see olives in pots in Spain, as they would need to be watered 2-3 times a day due to the heat. The amount of water does depend on the time of year and the weather. Please note that when it rains, very little water actually escapes the canopy and finds its way into the rootball.
The amount of water also depends on what the tree is planted in. Our trees are planted in coir which helps them root quickly, but does mean that they dry out extremely fast in warm weather. If your tree is in a peat-based or coir compost, a good watering can three times a week will be needed through spring and summer. This obviously needs to be reduced as we go into autumn and then during winter; if we have little rain and mild weather, water your tree once every couple of weeks. Never water an olive tree when there are hard frosts, as you run the risk of damaging the roots.
If the tree is planted in a loam-based compost such as John Innes, grit will need to be added to help excess water drain. Watering will need to be less frequent in this case as John Innes holds moisture far better. The golden rule with watering olive trees is ‘little and often.’
Olives that are planted in the ground will also need plenty of water to get started. Please note that most olive groves in Spain get irrigation, and the trees in the wild will have deep root systems to find cool ground and moisture. It can take 3-10 months for an olive tree to root properly. This does depend on the size of the tree, but the principle is the same: as soon as the tree has rooted, it will be less dependent on you watering it. A really good soak with a hose once planted and a weekly soak will be perfect for the first two to three months.
When to do: Late spring or early summer
As olive trees grow slowly, you won’t need to prune them all that regularly.
During the first couple of years of your olive tree’s life you won’t need to prune, as the tree becomes more established, forming foliage on its own. Any pruning should be conducted after the last frost has passed, in late spring or early summer. This allows your tree to heal, so as not to leave ‘wounds’ open in the colder months which can be particularly damaging.
You should remove any dead, diseased or dying branches as these will affect how healthy your tree is. Branches which are obscuring the shape of your olive tree should also be pruned, with your aim to allow light to reach the centre of the tree where possible, as branches which rub together can affect growth.
It’s also recommended that you cut back shoots which grow from the base of the trunk upwards, as these can affect how much energy the tree puts into growing. Removing these encourages the tree to place its focus on growing the crown of the plant.
If you whish the tree to fruit do not prune the tree as olives will grow on the previous years growth.
When to do: Spring
While fertiliser isn’t essential, you are likely to see increased benefits if you undertake a nutrition regime – how often you do, is up to you, however it’s recommended that you conduct this each spring. If you plan on producing fruit from your tree, then a liquid fertiliser should be used as this will keep the soil moist – something which is essential for olive production.
Using an organic fertiliser will contain components such as manure and compost, which take a longer to decompose – providing your olive tree with benefits over a sustained period of time. Using a natural fertiliser will give your olive tree nutrients which it needs to survive, such as copper, zinc, calcium, magnesium and manganese. When using organic fertiliser, you should carry this out every other year to achieve maximum benefits.
Fertiliser should be applied to the ground but not in a position too close to the trunk. Once you have applied your fertiliser, you should water thoroughly to aid absorption of the nutrients. Avoid fertilising during winter months, as this is when your tree does the least growing so you won’t see any benefits.
Using a chemical solution, will address any immediate issues that your olive tree is facing, while an organic fertiliser will provide longer term benefits for overall tree health.
When to do: If temperatures are particularly low
While olive trees are known for being hardy, if temperatures drop below -10°C for an extended period of time the tree could become damaged.
All plants should be placed in a sheltered spot, so that if freezing winds do occur, your plant is relatively sheltered from these elements. You could also add layers of horticultural fleece to protect your tree.
Over the winter months watering is not essential as the tree is dormant, once the warm weather returns at the start of spring up the watering to encourage the tree to start growing.
Keeping Olive Trees is straight forward most of the time, however, like most plants they can be affected by pests and diseases. While for the most part your olive tree will be fine growing in the UK, Olive Tree Pests and Diseases can damage even the strongest Olive Trees. Here are our tips for preventing and treating Olive Tree Pests and Diseases.
- Keep your Olive Tree well fed
- Keep the soil moist
- Prune your olive tree
- Give it some sunshine
- Act quickly
- Remove diseased fruit
For more information follow this link.