Olive trees in the pot - so you care for it properly

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Olive tree - Olea europaea

The olive tree, also known as a true olive tree, grows in its natural habitat as an evergreen, well-branched tree or shrub and can live to hundreds of years. In the age he impressed with bony, deeply furrowed trunks, which is of course not so pronounced in the bucket. Here they stay much smaller, which does not detract from their attractiveness. In the trade, olive trees are offered as a high stem or as a shrub. Both variants conjure a Mediterranean flair on the terrace, balcony or in the conservatory.


Everywhere in Germany, where cold frosty nights are to be expected, it is advisable to keep the olive trees exclusively in the bucket. These attractive and sun-hungry plants want to be sunny all year round. A year-round outdoor posture is not possible due to limited frost hardiness. Short-term temperatures of up to minus 5 degrees are tolerated without damage.
Depending on the weather conditions, from about the end of March / beginning of April to autumn, the olive can stand outdoors in a sheltered and draft-free place with a constant sun. If one side of the plant receives more and longer sun than others, it is advisable to turn it occasionally so that it grows more regularly. Keeping olive trees outside for as long as possible makes it easier to hibernate, as they are much more robust and resistant.


As far as the soil conditions are concerned, olives are relatively undemanding. Just be careful that the substrate is not too wet. Recommended are loose, well-drained, sandy and not too nutrient-rich soils. You can mix them from two-thirds of commercially available potting soil and at least one-third gravel, lava rock or coarse sand itself but also use special citrus soil or high-quality potting soil.


In their country of origin, these plants are a common sight, where you can admire there sometimes millennium-old specimens. Also in this country, they would like to stand in the open air and are completely unsuitable for a room attitude. While young olive trees need a little more care, they are limited with age. They do not forgive every care mistake by far, why one should observe some basic rules.

to water

The olive tree should be watered neither too much nor too little but still regularly. Especially in summer it needs a lot of water. Even young plants and freshly planted specimens should be poured a little more in the first two years of existence. This is even more true for plants in container culture, because here the substrate dries out faster. Basically more must be poured in warm, dry and windy weather than in cool and damp weather.
  • Pour so much that the substrate is moistened to the bottom of the pot
  • Before each casting, allow the substrate to dry well on the surface
  • Casting frequency and casting quantities to match the natural rainfall
  • Occasionally spray with water
  • Waterlogging is the biggest problem of these plants
  • It can lead to root rot and dying of the tree
  • Even dryness should not last longer than a few days
Tip: To protect against waterlogging attention should be paid to a drainage layer of about 10 cm thick, and there is no need for pots and saucers, because this is where they can accumulate irrigation water.


Olive tree - Olea europaea

In order to meet the nutrient requirements, potted plants must be supplied with fertilizer once a week during the growing season, for example from April to September. Special fertilizers for citrus plants are suitable because the nutrient requirements of citrus plants are very similar to those of olive trees. Of course, other high-quality fertilizer can be used for potted plants.


Proper hibernation can be crucial for maintaining and thriving these magnificent plants for many years to come. If they then bloom and produce fruit, they did everything right. First, it is about finding a suitable winter quarters. This should be bright and cool, with temperatures between 5 and 10 degrees. Have proven to u.a. non-heated but frost-free greenhouses, conservatories and adjoining rooms. Heated living rooms are completely unsuitable for wintering an olive tree. Here it is too warm, too dark and the air too dry.
In trade, so-called wintering tents are offered, which may be suitable for wintering on the balcony in connection with a frost guard. Here the bucket should be protected against freezing. In such tents is essential to ensure proper ventilation. If ventilation is insufficient, leaf loss and rot are inevitable.
Basically, these plants should stay outdoors as long as possible and not be brought into the house too early.If the temperatures in winter quarters are below 12 degrees, the olive tree reduces its metabolism so that it can cope with less light. At temperatures around 5 degrees, the plant falls into a kind of hibernation. Even now, the substrate should not dry out completely and be poured sparingly from time to time. Too much moisture is to be avoided, especially during the hibernation. It is not fertilized in winter.

Repot before putting out

The better the wintering, the easier the change from winter quarters to the outdoors. When an olive tree grows well, the roots also grow and thrive, making them soon too tight in the pot. In addition, the substrate is eventually leached, so it is time to repot into fresh soil.
  • If the desired final size is reached, the same pot can be used again
  • If the olive tree continues to grow, the new pot should be slightly larger
  • In the diameter about 4 cm more are sufficient
  • Pot must have enough vent holes
  • Material of the planter does not matter
  • Fill the pot one-third with coarse gravel or crushed stone
  • On the substrate, which is also mixed with drainage material
  • This ensures the best possible permeability and ventilation
  • Then take the plant out of the old pot
  • Check root for possible damage
  • Remove dead and rotten spots on the root ball
  • The best place to lay the tree
For plants that are used again in the old pot, shorten the roots by about 2 cm. If you use a larger pot, use the plant as usual and fill it up with fresh soil. Then they are squeezed tight and watered abundantly and penetrating. You do not need to be fertilized in the following 6 weeks.
Tip: After watering directly after transplanting, renewed watering can be dispensed with in the next few weeks. At this time of year, it is still quite cool, so that the olive tree evaporates only a little water.

After hibernation cut

Olive tree - Olea europaea

In addition to repot cutting measures include the first care measures in early spring. Anyone who wants a well-grown, healthy olive tree that may even flower and produce fruit, can not avoid regular cutting. These ensure that the plants are given a beautiful shape or will be preserved and for optimal ventilation inside the crown.
If you stick to some basic rules, it is not as difficult as many fear. For cutting, only sharp cutting tools should be used to prevent pinching and tearing of the interfaces. The disinfection of tools is useful, which can prevent the transmission of pathogens. Now it can start, with the so-called conservation cut.

preservation section

The conservation cut is relatively unspectacular. Above all, it serves to remove or correct minor damage and blemishes. A conservation cut can be made directly after hibernation from the end of February to the beginning of March. Measures of a conservation cut can also be made later in the spring or in the summer. Start with the crown and cut out all dead and sick branches and, if necessary, whole branches. In addition, regrowing shoots on the trunk can be removed. It should not be cut back too much, because then a new release is not guaranteed.
Tip: Whether a branch or branch has died, can be seen on the meridians, which are located directly under the bark. A small piece of bark is removed, beginning at the top of the crown. If it is fresh green below, the branch or branch is still alive. In contrast, a brownish color indicates that it is already dead and can be removed. In order not to unnecessarily taint the plant, one should only remove there bark, where there is a suspicion that this area has died.

education section

The upbringing should be well considered, because wrongly removed branches or branches leave many years gaps that the plant can hardly compensate. The aim of the educational cut is to build the crown framework with leading and secondary branches, to shape the crown and make corrections inside the crown.
  • From intersecting shoots in the crown inside the weaker cut out
  • Shoots that protrude from the crown shorten, so that the outer shape is preserved
  • If necessary, remove larger side branches to refurbish or build up the crown
  • Optimal crown consists of a strong, central main drive and several secondary drives
  • Competitive drives are not desirable and should be cut out
  • So again enough light and air gets into the interior of the crown
Tip: Although these plants are relatively cut compatible, should always be cut with restraint, because here is less in any case more. If you cut too much or in an unfavorable place, it can sometimes take a long time for this gap to be filled again.Especially healthy olive trees should not be radically cut back.

When to go outside?

Basically, the duration of the hibernation should be as short as possible and the olive tree as early as possible back to the outdoors. Crucial here are the prevailing and expected temperatures in the respective region, especially at night and in the early morning hours. Long-term weather forecasts of German weather services can be a small help. However, you should not rely solely on it. In general, the plants can get out as soon as the temperatures are permanently above minus 5 degrees. In the first few days you should still choose a location without direct sunlight to avoid burns of the leaves.



Commercially offered olives are usually prepared, so they are not suitable for sowing. If you have an olive tree, which ideally bore fruits, then fresh seeds are no problem. Corresponding seeds are also available from specialist retailers. Neither the fruits nor the kernels should be damaged. It is best to sow more than one seed, because not all are germinable.
  • First, remove the kernels of fresh olives from the pulp
  • Wash off small pieces under running water
  • First soak seeds from the market for about 24 hours in lukewarm water
  • Change the water several times during this time
  • Carefully scrape or file seeds to accelerate germination
  • Place seeds with the tip up in germ-free soil
  • Seed soil should be loose, well drained and nutrient poor
  • Cover the cores with earth at most half a centimeter
  • Moisten the substrate and keep it moist
  • Place the culture container in a light and warm place without direct sunlight
At temperatures of at least 20 - 25 degrees and depending on the soil temperature, germination can take between 4 and 12 weeks. As soon as the small seedlings are visible, they need a lot of light, otherwise they would shoot too fast and hurry up. The best is now a protected and bright place in the garden, initially again without direct sunlight. After another two months, some liquid fertilizer can be given.
Tip: An olive tree grown from seed is to be assigned to the wild olives, which produce only very small fruits and that after approx. 10 years at the earliest. However, it is possible to use exactly these plants, if they are a bit older, as a so-called base for a noble olive, if one comes to a corresponding cutting.


Olive tree - Olea europaea

Something more promising than a sowing is the Verfestung by means of cuttings. Again, the substrate used should be germ-free again. One cuts from an existing plant several young, not lignified and about 5-10 cm long shoots, each of which should have at least three eyes. The cut should be set at an angle, which makes it easier for the cutting to absorb water.
The lower leaves are removed and the cuttings are placed in small pots with sprouting soil. The earth is pressed all around and moistened. Then put it in a bright and warm place at temperatures between 20 and 30 degrees. A spray bottle keeps the substrate evenly moist. If after a few weeks, the first shoot shows, the propagation was successful and the cuttings can be further cultivated accordingly.

Pests and diseases

spider mites
Spider mite infestation occurs especially under unfavorable conditions during wintering. One recognizes him u.a. on fine white webs, preferably on the undersides of the leaves. If one detects an infestation, it can be combated by spraying it with a broth from the seeds of the neem tree or stinging nettles, which can also strengthen the plants.
root rot
Root rot is usually the result of too much wetness. The leaves wither, fall off and in the worst case, the olive tree enters. If it is detected early, you can save the plants by immediate repot at best. In the future, however, one should make sure to pour as needed.
leaf drop
If the olive tree loses leaves, this is usually due to unfavorable wintering conditions. This can be a lack of light, too warm or too cold hibernation and too much or too little water. To counteract this, attention should be paid to optimal conditions. In addition, one should already pay attention to high-quality plants when buying. For example, the crown, stem and root system should have no damage or interfaces. Growth on the trunk and branches or spots on the leaves may indicate an illness or fungal attack. You should definitely refrain from buying such plants.
In Mediterranean gardens, the olive tree is the star. His care is comparatively demanding and he forgives only a few care mistakes. Still, he finds more and more lovers. Under optimal conditions, even an olive tree in the pot can become very old.He is a symbol of peace, love and permanence, making him the perfect gift for special people.

Video Board: All you need to know about Olive tree (Olea europea).

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