What Do Olive Trees Need To Grow?

Olive tree growing in sunlight

In this no-frills guide, we’re listing everything that olive trees need to grow and thrive. If you’re investing in an olive tree or two, you’ll want to keep them looking their best for years to come. As olive tree specialists, we’re imparting our knowledge to help your tree grow happy and healthy in its new home. Especially if you want your tree to fruit, you’ll need to take extra good care of it.

Olive trees best-growing conditions:

Olive trees love the sun

You need to help your olive tree soak up as much sun as possible. Place them facing south or east to help them get more exposure to natural light. They also like to be sheltered from the wind, so make sure they’re in a sheltered, sunny spot.

They don’t like the cold

The cold, wet, windy months of winter are not an olive tree’s favourite time of year. But, you can make them feel a little happier by wrapping them in a horticultural fleece. These trees are hardy though, and have been known to survive temperatures as low as -15°C! But for optimum conditions, make sure you protect your tree against a cold snap or heavy rain.

Feed your tree the right nutrients

Applying slow-release fertiliser in the spring 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. 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.

Don’t overwater or underwater

Olive trees are hardy plants. They’re native to Mediterranean climes, meaning they can handle drier temperatures. You may have had house plants that required daily or weekly watering, but olive trees are a different kettle of fish. If the soil is moist, your tree doesn’t need watering.

For newly planted olive trees, give it a good soak with a hose. After that, you can do a weekly water for the first two to three months. The golden rule is to water little and often.

If your tree is in a peat-based or coir compost, you should water it three times a week through spring and summer. This can be reduced in autumn and winter. If the winter is mild with little rain, water your tree once every couple of weeks. Never water an olive tree when there are hard frosts, as you could damage the roots.

If the tree is planted in a loam-based compost, such as John Innes, watering should be less frequent as it holds moisture far better.

Soil should offer good drainage

To prevent your olive tree roots from becoming waterlogged, you need good drainage. The soil should be mineral-rich. If your soil is quite sandy, add a bit of compost or soil improver to ensure the tree has the nutrients it needs. With clay soil, an olive tree will benefit from a little extra grit to aid drainage.

Place them outside

This isn’t a strict rule, but, if you want an olive tree to last as long as possible, it’s best to place it in the great outdoors. However, this point isn’t designed to crush your dreams of having an indoor olive tree. They are also suitable for indoor spaces, such as atriums, conservatories and sunny apartments. The only point we’re making is that they won’t last quite as long as their outdoor counterparts.

Potted or planted – which is best?

For optimum growing conditions, olive trees need to be planted in the ground.

If you are having olive trees in pots, make sure to choose a breathable container to allow plenty of drainage. Wood or terracotta is recommended. You can use plastic pots, but the walls are thinner so insulation is needed for the winter months to protect the roots from freezing. Bubble wrap is suitable for this. You should also ensure there’s enough room for the roots to expand.

Speak to the olive tree experts at Olive Grove Oundle. Shop the UK’s largest range of olive trees online today. Or, you can visit our nursery near Peterborough.

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