Choosing the right Olive Tree for you and your space.

First Things First

First things first. Do you want an Olive Tree because of its sculptural evergreen beauty, or you are keen to grow an Olive tree for its fruit? With over 800 cultivars of Olive Tree if it’s fruit you’re after then getting the right variety is essential. Not all Olive Trees are self-pollinating, so go for an ‘Arbequina’ or ‘Picual’ Olive, which are both solid fruiting trees.

Fruiting olive tree

Are you keen to grow an Olive tree for its fruit?

Measure Your Olive Tree

If you are buying your Olive Tree online make sure you get the tree’s measurements. Knowing the height of the tree from the bottom of the stem to the top of the tree is essential. Olive trees are slowing growing trees, so it’s important you find an Olive tree at the height you want NOW – not in five years’ time.

If you are keeping your Olive tree in a pot, make sure you know the height of the tree from the bottom of the pot. Keeping your tree in a pot is straightforward but you are containing its growth, so again knowing the tree’s measurements ensures no unpleasant surprises when it arrives.

Now you are armed with the variety of your Olive tree and its measurements, you can think about where you want to keep your Olive tree. Olive trees like free draining soil so if you have clay soil you will need to add grit and sand when planting out to ensure good drainage. If you are keeping your Olive tree in a pot then regular pruning and feeding will keep your potted Olive happy and healthy.

Shape and Form

Now, to shape and form. The Olive is incredibly architectural with its gnarled stem. Old Olive trees look wonderful as a centre piece underplanted with Convolvulus cneorum and variegated sage. The curry plant also has a silvery hue that compliments the foliage of the Olive Tree. Ancient Olive trees also work really well in a border adding height and interest to perennials like lavender and salvia.

Old Olive tree in a border

Old Olive trees look great in borders adding height and interest.

Small patio gardens also benefit from the evergreen presence of an Olive. Sculptural trees such as the cloud pruned Olive placed against a whitewashed wall give gardens an instant Mediterranean feel.

Cloud pruned Olive

Sculptural trees such as the cloud pruned Olive placed against a whitewashed wall give gardens an instant Mediterranean feel.

A client of ours recently purchased an Olive Tree for her cottage and chose a young smooth stemmed variety which contrasted beautifully with her Norfolk flint cottage.

This smooth stemmed Olive looks great against the Norfolk flint!

This smooth stemmed Olive looks great against the Norfolk flint!

Standard olive trees or twisted stems either side of the doorway create an inviting feel.

A presentable and well kept garden is proven to add value to your property. Olive trees signify peace, hope and longevity, a tree rich in meaning to add year long colour and interest to your garden!

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.

Exhibiting our Olive Bonsai at Gardeners’ World Live

Our week exhibiting at Gardeners’ World Live was a huge success. Our Olive tree bonsai at the heart of our garden design drew lots of attention by both the media and the public. We created a small Mediterranean garden with our olive bonsai set amongst companion garden plants such as Rhodanthemum ‘Casablanca’ and Salvia nemorosa ‘Caradonna’.  We also used in our design ‘Creeping Red’ thyme grown here in Norfolk by Norfolk Herbs. It really pulled the whole design together, creating a delightful small garden. The public loved it as it reminded them of Mediterranean holidays and people enjoyed telling us tales of their favourite Olive tree spotted whilst holidaying.

Thyme 'Creeping Red'

Thyme ‘Creeping Red’ – grown in Norfolk by Norfolk Herbs.

Talking Olive tree care

I gave talks every day in the VIP lounge on ‘Growing Olive trees’ and ‘Olive tree care’. I shared the same stage every day with the likes of Michel Roux Junior, Nadia Hussain and Antonio Carluccio. Guests loved tasting last year’s crop of preserved Arbequina olives.  With temperatures rising to 30 degrees both myself and the public struggled to ask and answer questions on pruning olive trees and what to do when planting Olive trees.

Sharing the stage with Nadia Hussain

Sharing the stage with Nadia Hussain.

Other Show Gardens

But it wasn’t all hard work, we got to visit the big show gardens early in the morning before the show opened and that felt wonderful being able to soak up the gardens before the crowds arrived!

My favourite was the Nostalgia Garden by Paul Stone it reminded me so much of my youth and visiting my grandmother that it made me weep. I spoke to many visitors and they all said they had the same physical and emotional reaction to it. Paul had created a village store from the 1960’s with an old mini parked up and old petrol pump and potted plants. He’d even built a humpback bridge with running stream, a bucolic rural scene from yesteryear.

The Nostalgia Garden

The Nostalgia Garden by Paul Stone.

There is always a buzz and great atmosphere in the floral marquee and we’re lucky to have such talented neighbours. John Cullen Gardens grows plants for pollinators and he had some wonderful perennials – my favourite was the Achillea ‘Moonshine’ and I think it’s a perennial that will prove very popular as Carol Klein was expounding its virtues on the BBC Gardeners’ World Live programme. Paul liked the Achillea so much he added it to our display at the last moment. The yellow really popped and looked great planted with the Rhodanthemum, giving more height and texture to the display.


Plants for pollinators – like this Bumblebee

Achillea 'Moonshine'

Achillea ‘Moonshine’.

Our bonsai olive tree in our Gardeners' World Live exhibit

Our bonsai olive tree in our Gardeners’ World Live exhibit.

Our Olive Trees getting some media attention from the BBC

Our Olive Trees getting some media attention from the BBC.

Just one day to build our exhibit- but we did it!

Just one day to build our exhibit- but we did it!

Very popular with everyone was the peony birthday cake that celebrated 50 years of Gardeners’ World. It took three days to build and I did not envy them as they meticulously placed each peony into the five foot tall cake. Alex from Primrose Hall Nursery (I know – confusing name for a nursery that specialises in peonies) spoke passionately on BBC Gardeners’ World Live about his love of peonies and how it was his grandfather who nurtured and inspired him to follow a path into horticulture – a circuitous route I believe after spending several years practising law!

Peony Cake

Peony Cake – celebrating 50 years of Gardeners’ World

At the other end of the floral marquee was the cactus couple Vicky and Stan from Craig House Cacti. Multi award winning medallists from Chelsea, Vicky and Stan are like the mum and dad of the floral marquee. With years of experience under their belt they are incredibly kind and supportive with lots of advice for novice exhibitors like ourselves.

We made a typical schoolboy error and didn’t take enough olive trees for our sales stand and had to rush back to Norwich (no mean feat from Birmingham) to stock up on the popular standard Olive tree.

Cactus display

Cactus display – Craig House Cacti.

Award winning Air Plants

Award winning Air Plants.

Air plants

More Air Plants

Back home to our Olive tree nursery

It feels so good to return to our Olive tree nursery. All the Olive trees are in flower and buzzing with life as hungry bees tuck into the Olive trees’ pollen. The arbequina Olive tree in particular is full of flower – they flower and fruit earlier than other Olive varieties so make them an excellent choice for growing Olives.

Our Olive tree sale continues

Our Olive tree sale continues until Sunday the 25th June. There’s also a selection of palms and yucca reduced by 15% –  some wonderful treats for garden lovers. We have some choice mature olive trees for sale including the Arbequina Olive tree from Catalonia and the classic standard olive tree, which is absolutely perfect for adorning doorways. So now is a good time if you want to buy an Olive tree.

All our Olive trees come with a care sheet and we’re more than happy to offer ongoing aftercare advice. We understand that when you buy trees you want a high level of customer service as these are significant investments and that expert information and advice on caring for Olive trees is of utmost importance. Here at the Norfolk Olive Tree company that’s what we do better than anyone else.

Next delivery to our Olive tree nursery

 Our next Olive tree shipment arrives this Friday. I’m particularly looking forward to seeing the Olive bonsai we hand picked – more beautiful Olive tree bonsai than you can shake a stick at!

We’ve picked some charming Arbequina olives, both young and old Olive trees, ranging from 3 to 300 years. In truth, there were so many we couldn’t resist, we had to have them.

So Friday night we are going to be flat on our face with exhaustion or propping up a bar somewhere…’s a hard life!

Celebrate Summer With an Olive Tree

I do love an ornamental Olive tree, something about their shape and architectural form that makes them so eye catching! Influenced by Japanese pruning and ‘niwaki’  which means ‘garden trees’. Topiary trees are growing in popularity as they create instant impact, ideal specimen olive trees to plant in your garden.

Our Trip to Spain

cloud olive tree

Cloud tree in Salou.

palm tres in Spain

Evening walk












On our recent trip to Spain to buy topiary trees, we were struck immediately by how many were used in planting in public spaces, roundabouts and promenades. We stayed in Salou and Paul fell in love with an ancient cloud tree minutes from our hotel. In the evening after visiting the tree nursery we walked the length and breadth of the promenade. Here we admired the Washingtonia robusta and date palms before finding a quiet restaurant to quench our thirst with a jug of sangria.

palm trees in Spain

Walking the length and breadth of the promenade.

I fell in love with an old Olive tree in the heart of Salou. It was so inviting and full of character I was tempted to climb inside and snooze.

old Olive tree in the heart of Salou

This old Olive tree in the heart of Salou was so inviting and full of character I was tempted to climb inside and snooze.

Our buying trip was a huge success. We hand picked a huge selection of Olive trees, ranging from standard olive trees in pots to mature Olive trees in pots. And of course the increasingly popular ornamental Olive tree – the cloud olive.

olive trees in pots

Trip to plant nursery.

Small olive trees

Small Olive trees











Back in England – Gardeners’ World Live

Now back in England we are busy preparing for Gardeners’ World Live. I’ve been asked to do daily talks on growing Olive trees and in addition I will be in the BBC Good Food tent talking about curing olives. I’m hoping for a chance meeting with Monty Don in the VIP lounge!

Gardeners' Wold LiveTree Sale

Back in Norwich we will be having a tree sale. There will be 15% off our Olive trees, figs and pomegranates. You can also buy trees online, safe in the knowledge that you will get them safely delivered to your garden.

Here in the U.K. people are such wonderful gardeners with a real feel for creating beautiful spaces. I’m just so pleased that they have taken to the Olive tree and realise how straightforward it is to grow them in the garden or keep them as potted olive trees.

Olive trees in pots

Olive trees in pots.

Many customers have moved into new build gardens and are always on the look out for full grown trees for sale. And why not? The Olive tree is ideal at giving new gardens maturity and character and for me the fact that they are an evergreen species means you can have year long colour in your garden; something to appreciate in the colder months.

The garden is a place to retreat to year round and olive trees make that possible… buckets!

Silver award for the ‘pin ups’ of the gardening world!

These have been heady and rewarding times for us. Our show garden ‘Live your Mediterranean dream’ won Silver at RHS Cardiff – a great result for our second ever RHS show garden.

visitors admiring our show garden

Visitors admiring our show garden at Cardiff.

RHS Cardiff is a wonderful spring event set in the beautiful Bute Park in the heart of Cardiff City. Cardiff’s reputation for hosting the friendliest Flower Show was highlighted in The weekend Telegraph’s Gardening Section, with Paul and I adorning the front cover! Our friends now tease us and call us the ‘pin ups of the gardening world’.

Pin up - Norfolk Olive Tree Company

As featured in The Telegraph’s Gardening Section. Photo courtesy of Andrew Crowley, photographer.

Spring has arrived!

Spring has finally sprung and here at The Norfolk Olive Tree Company everything is looking lush and verdant. We’re feeding all our Olive Trees liquid seaweed to improve vigour after the winter spell. The place is abuzz with bees feeding off the emerging flowers of our Arbequina Olive Trees.

I love Norfolk at this time of year and there is plenty to look forward to in the Gardening Calendar. My favourite event is Plant Lovers Day at Creake Abbey, now in its 10th Year. It’s the ideal place to meet specialist nurseries and find perennials, roses, alpines, herbs and of course Olive Trees! With delicious cakes on offer in a sumptuous setting, a warm welcome to dog owners and play area for children this plant fair is a ‘must’.

With Gardeners World Live at the NEC approaching, now is a busy time for us. We are selecting the right Olive Tree and Mediterranean plants for our exhibit. Building on the theme of our RHS silver award winning ‘Live your Mediterranean dream’ we plan to build a low maintenance garden with evergreen planting, sculptural architectural plants and trees something that offers year long colour and interest. We are very excited about exhibiting at BBC gardeners Live. Fingers crossed for a chance meeting with Monty Don!

More pictures from RHS Cardiff

Our Award Winning Olive trees at RHS Cardiff

Our award winning show garden at RHS Cardiff: ‘Live Your Mediterranean Dream’

Cardiff RHS 2017

Detail of our show garden (left) and the Floral Marquee (right).