Olive tree in a pot: how to maintain it?


The olive tree is the very symbol of regions bathed in sunshine. Nicknamed the tree of life, it displays a rare longevity and is extremely robust because it supports both drought and wind and can even withstand negative temperatures down to -10 ° C. This evergreen tree can easily be installed in a pot to be placed on the terrace or balcony. But it must be sheltered during harsh winters in colder regions. Although not very demanding in terms of maintenance, the olive tree must however be a little pampered to honor us with its beauty for many years and to feast us on its olives. Let’s take stock of its watering, pruning and fertilizer needs.

Olive tree in a pot: nature of the soil and exposure

In geographical areas benefiting from a mild climate where summers are particularly dry, the olive tree is grown in the ground, and even stony soil suits it. Elsewhere, it is highly preferable to install it in a pot, if only to be able to move it if necessary, or even to put it in shelters in order to protect it from extreme cold.

It needs to be installed in a large container (or large pot). It is undemanding in terms of substrate since it accommodates a earth even limestone as long as it is deep and well drained because it hates excess humidity, fatal for its roots. It is therefore placed in a very sunny place protected from the prevailing cold winds.

Olive tree in a pot: well-measured watering

There are nearly 2,000 species of olive trees. The most common variety isCommon olive tree (Olea europea). It belongs to the family of Oleaceae. Its height in adulthood is about 9 meters. This tree which symbolizes peace presents a very typical tortuous silhouette and a evergreen foliage composed of lanceolate gray-green to bluish-green leaves of the most beautiful effect.

It is between April and June that its White flowers very melliferous flourish and from the end of summer, we can have the good surprise of seeing its fleshy drupes, so much appreciated fruits. The olives are harvested from the end of the summer season until autumn.

Its growth is very slow since it takes only about fifteen centimeters at most each year provided that it is not forgotten in a corner of the terrace. Because even if it supports major droughts, it must benefit from a careful watering when grown in a container. Be careful though, the olive tree does not support any excess water this is why it must be planted in a permeable soil allowing a perfect flow of rainwater and watering.

To take root well during the period following its planting in a container, it must benefit from regular watering. Thereafter, two waterings per month are sufficient in summer. No need to have a heavy hand because the earth should never be soaked. Must therefore wait until the ground is dry before taking out the watering can. Likewise, care must be taken that water does not stagnate in the saucer. Once the hot weather has passed, watering must be restricted.

Vigilance is essential because in a container, the soil dries out much faster than in the garden. If you have to be away for a long time in summer, you can install a specific irrigation system or ask a neighbor to take care of the potted olive tree.

Olive tree in a pot: protect it from the cold

Despite its Mediterranean origins, this fruit and ornamental tree can be grown in all regions of France. But it’s all the same a little chilly. Precautions should therefore be taken where winter temperatures are below -9 or -10 ° C. The wisest thing is to protect both the container and the tree with a wintering veil if climatic rigors are to be feared. Better yet, it can be placed in a cold greenhouse or in an orangery with the citrus fruit in a pot. We can take it out again in the spring, when the risk of severe frost is no longer to be feared.

Olive tree in a pot: soft pruning is possible

The pruning of an olive tree cultivated in a container is far from being restrictive even for the inexperienced gardener. It is also recommended to be satisfied with a gentle pruning. Regularity prevents it from being too severe. This maintenance should simply serve to maintain the silhouette of the shrub. It consists at most of:

  • Remove suckers that develop at the foot of the trunk.
  • Remove dead branches.
  • Remove the feverish branches that lack vigor.
  • Ventilate the center of the branching (heart of the tree) by cutting the tangled branches and excess branches.
  • Cut back branches that have suffered from severe frost on living wood.

It is therefore a thinning pruning springtime. It is performed after a few years of container culture, when the subject has already grown. It takes place once a year if necessary, between March and mid-May. A well-sharpened pruner is sufficient to cut small branches, side suckers and unnecessary twigs. Larger diameter branches require the use of a delimber.

You can harvest fruit after fifteen years of cultivation. The olives develop on the wood of the previous year. It is therefore necessary to carry out a fruiting size every two or three years. It is a goblet pruning that can occur every two or three years, in the spring. She increases the quality of fruiting. It should be done after winter and before flowering. It consists of a shortening of about 30% of the vigorous branches which gave fruit the previous year. This helps to promote the production of olives closer to the trunk, which increases their taste quality.

Finally, the potted olive tree needs from time to time that we fertilize the earth so that it benefits from essential nutrients, namely the famous NPK, that is to say thenitrogen, the potassium and the phosphorus. You can opt for a mineral fertilizer marketed in garden centers or for an organic fertilizer, knowing that the latter improves the structure of the substrate and allows a regular distribution of nutrients. Organic fertilizer is economical and ecological since it is obtained by composting garden waste. We take the opportunity to hoe lightly the soil of the tank, being careful not to injure the roots of the olive tree.

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