Caring for your potted Olive tree

“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.” – Chinese Proverb

I love this proverb with its ‘it’s never too late’ philosophy! Indeed Paul and I get so much pleasure from trees that we planted in our garden ‘way back when’. A family tradition of ours was to plant a tree on the birth of our children or to mark a new chapter in our lives. Our daughter’s corkscrew hazel and our son’s peach tree reign supreme over our garden rivalled only by the Olive Tree that we planted when we moved into our house in 2006. Now our Olive stands 12 feet tall and is visible from the road as we approach the house, a sign to us that we have arrived home.

Many of our customers however want to keep their olive trees in pots. There are many reasons why people might want a potted Olive tree rather than planting it out.

Often people are aware that they will outgrow their current house as their children grow bigger- or the empty nesters who are seeking smaller homes to enjoy. They want to change houses but keep there Olive Tree. And why not. So keeping an Olive tree in a pot does make sense.

The Olive tree is a small tree so it has a small root system. The root system of the Olive Tree is supporting and feeding the canopy of the Olive tree. So here are some tips for keeping your potted Olive tree happy and healthy.

Growing Olive trees in pots

  1. Top dress your potted Olive tree every spring with fresh compost. Scoop out a good handful of the old soil and top dress with John Innes no 3. John Innes no 3 is ideal as it’s perfect for mature specimens – so good for mature and ancient Olive trees. Younger specimens or standard olive trees in pots should be top dressed too- use any but good quality compost.
  2. Feed your olive tree regularly throughout the growing season with a mixture of fast and slow release feeds. We use miracle grow to kick start the season in Spring followed by liquid seaweed- then we top dress our potted Olive trees with a slow release that we have created, a blend of dried seaweed, guano bat pooh and Epsom salts. Olive trees love seaweed as they are a coastal tree and Epsom salts stop potted olive trees from becoming deficient in magnesium. Your potted Olive tree will display signs of magnesium deficiency if the leaves become increasingly yellow. Guano is an all round good fertiliser due to its exceptionally high content of nitrogen, phosphate and potassium: nutrients essential for tree-growth.
  3. Water well! Yes, Olive Trees are drought resistant in the ground but anything in a pot needs watering, otherwise your potted Olive tree will dry out- resulting in leaf drop. So, water well particularly through the summer months. A watering-can full every other day will keep your tree healthy and if your Olive tree has produced fruit, a good watering will help swell the fruit.
  4. Prune your potted Olive Tree in the spring. Keep your Olive Tree pruned. If you are keeping your Olive Tree in a pot the root system has to be able to send nutrients to the tree canopy- if you don’t prune your olive tree the canopy will grow too big for the pot size- the result is leaf drop,die back, straggly branches and pale magnesium deficient leaves. If you have olive tree topiary such as the niwaki inspired cloud olive then cloud pruning is essential to keep the cloud shape. Trim annually with secateurs or shears in early or late summer to keep cloud olives in shape. The same is true of the corkscrew olive tree, keep their ball heads regularly trimmed to keep their striking topiary shape.

We don’t sell large pots for trees but we have plenty of ideas how to decorate your potted Olive tree. Wrapping in hessian is simple but fetching, a client of ours wrapped her large pot in chandlery rope and I love the rustic effect.

So when keeping your Olive tree in a pot be sure to keep them watered, fed and pruned!

We have plenty of large Olive trees for sale online and here in our Norwich show garden. So fear not – you can keep old olive trees in a pot providing you with year long colour and interest for each chapter of your life and house move. You will always have your potted Olive tree.

olive trees in pots for sale uk

Scooping off the top layer of soil.

Top dressing

Top dressing.

Pruning back the canopy

Pruning back the canopy.

A potted Olve tree

A potted Olve tree.

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