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Growing Olive Trees in Containers or Pots

Growing Olive Trees in Containers is a great way to keep olive trees! Even the smallest garden or balcony can accommodate a pot grown olive tree. The ability to place your plant in the best possible location regardless of soil conditions is perhaps the greatest advantage of pot growing. There is the upside of being able to take it with you when you move! So here are our top tips for growing Olive Trees in Containers.

Tips for Growing Olive Trees in Containers

1) Position your Olive Tree Carefully

Positioning is everything when it comes to Growing Olive Trees in Containers. An olive tree needs the sunniest spot available in your garden. It can cope with a bit of shade but too much and your tree will start to degrade. Similarly, it will tolerate a breezy site but it will not thrive if exposed to constant northerly or easterly winds.

2) Choose your tree wisely

There are quite a few different varieties of Olive Tree available. Depending on your needs, it may be better to choose one of the more compact varieties for growth. These will be easier to move if necessary and may suit a smaller space. Look carefully at the different types of Olive Trees we have available. If you’re adding an olive to a balcony garden, we recommend one of the smaller lollipop varieties. Just be aware that you will need to prune your tree occasionally to keep it’s shape.

3) Give it the right compost

When it comes to soil requirements, olive trees will tolerate either acid or alkaline conditions. Good drainage is extremely important. In fact, good drainage is the most important thing to consider when growing olive trees either in pots or in the ground! Using a loam based compost such as John Innes No 3 is best 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. Though you need to be careful not to damage them as this can prevent flowering and fruiting later.

4) Pick a good pot for your Olive Tree

Terracotta or wood is a preferable choice when growing olive trees in pots or containers. This is because they are more ‘breathable’ options and will help with drainage and insulation. A good quality plastic pot however, has the benefit of being more lightweight and less prone to breakage. As with most pot grown plants, olive trees do not like frozen roots. It’s a good idea to insulate the inside of the pot with bubble insulation before you plant. Raising the pot on ‘feet’ will also ensure water can freely drain away.

5) Change your pot

When growing-on a young olive tree it is a good idea to transfer it to a slightly larger pot each spring as it grows to refresh the compost. Ultimately there is really no limit to the size of container you use other than the ability to move it if needed. Planted containers can be very heavy so take care to prevent injuring yourself when moving them. Use of a pot-mover can be a great help with this and there are some very good ones available now.

6) Be careful in Winter

While Olive Trees are very hardy (and almost indestructible) Olive Trees need to be ready for life in the British climate. Planting in spring will give your olive tree plenty of time to establish before next winter. Though it may be a good idea to bring the tree inside during prolonged cold spells. An unheated greenhouse or light porch is ideal! Just remember to re-acclimatise the plant to outdoor conditions again in spring. Alternatively, if left outside, we recommend that you wrap extra bubble insulation around the pot. Breathable fleece can also be used to protect the canopy. However, Olive Trees should still cope well in the cold.

7) Keep the soil moist

Although drought tolerant, the restriction of roots growing in a pot means olive trees must be watered regularly. You should also not allow the compost to dry out. A fortnightly feed with liquid seaweed extract will help keep your olive tree healthy. An annual springtime top-dressing with a slow release fertiliser will also help with this. Keep the compost surface weed-free to cut out competition for water and nutrients.