Olive tree loses leaves - causes of yellow leaves + the solution

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Olive tree - Olea europaea

If an olive tree puzzles its gardener, it is mostly loss of leaves. Especially in winter, the leaves turn yellow and fall off. This reaction results from various causes that disrupt the Mediterranean tree, leading to this drastic survival strategy. Consequently, such a damage image should be perceived as an alarm signal, which requires immediate action. The following analysis highlights common causes of yellow leaves and provides helpful guidance for solving the problem.

lack of light

Solution: Relocate or illuminate with plant lamps
In their natural ranges along the Mediterranean, olive trees can enjoy the sun for 12 hours or more. Then the plants have adapted to their growth. This claim remains unchanged for Olea europaea from local nurseries. North of the Alps, the reduced hours of sunshine are thus a common problem for the Mediterranean ornamental and fruit trees. As long as they are on the south-facing summer balcony, the evergreen leaves remain in place. At the latest in light-poor winter quarters, the leaves turn yellow and fall off. The higher the temperatures around room, the more drastic the leaf fall. To correct the problem:
  • Place the bucket in a sunny spot with temperatures between 5 and 10 degrees Celsius
  • Under the influence of temperatures of more than 10 degrees to compensate for the increased light requirements with plant lamps
  • Light the olive tree daily for at least 8 to 10 hours
Conventional lamps are not ideal for the desired effect. Therefore, access special lights with a red-blue light spectrum and a power of 14 to 15 watts. Optimum light output is provided by a lampshade with reflector coating. If there is uncertainty as to whether the amount of light is sufficient to stop the leaf fall, investing in a light meter makes sense. This device calculates the amount of light per square meter in lux. For your olive tree, this value should be at least 2,000 lux during a cool winter.
Tip: Leafless olive branches do not automatically mean that the shoot has died. Before you reach for the scissors in the spring, please carry out a vitality test. From the bare branch a piece of bark is scraped off. If there is green tissue underneath, the young leaves will not be long in coming.

An excess of wetness

Solution: Repot and style-conform
In the late winter and early spring, the complaints about leaf fall on the olive tree are piling up in the Mediterranean garden. Now is punished to abundant watering in winter quarters. Under certain circumstances, the temperatures already allowed the Auswinterung, however, comes spring with massive rains therefore. While the flood of water can seep through the well-drained real olive tree in the permeable soil, it does not run off in the bucket or not quickly enough. The sun is not intense enough at this time of the year, so that an excess of moisture can evaporate quickly. Under these conditions, yellow, deciduous leaves are preprogrammed. In two stages, you help your olive tree return to its evergreen leaves dress:

First stage: Repot

If the olive tree has not fully rooted the bucket, you can use the container again. In this case, please check exactly if there are sufficiently large openings in the floor as drainage. A new pot should be no larger than 4 to 6 cm in diameter. As a substrate, we recommend a loose mixture of 3 parts of compost, 2 parts of coconut or wood fibers and 1 part of vital lime. Adding a few handfuls of sand optimizes the permeability of the earth. Here's how to make a good pot:
  • Pull out the soaked root ball to completely remove the soil
  • Soften, cut off rotten root cuttings
  • The bottom opening in the pot cover with a drainage of potsherds, chippings or expanded clay balls
  • Cover the water-bearing layer with an air- and water-permeable fleece

Olive tree - Olea europaea

Now fill in the bucket with enough substrate so that the root disk is at the end about 3 cm below the edge of the vessel. Then put the root ball and fill the cavities with soil. First, place the olive tree in a partially shaded place for one week, where it can regenerate. Then choose a sunny and rain sheltered place to prevent waterlogging due to too much rain.

Second stage: pour properly using a moisture meter

If waterlogging has triggered yellow leaves and loss of leaves, the pimping action in this special case does not end in an abundant casting. Since the crown stands without leaves, there is hardly any evaporation. At least during the regeneration phase, the water requirement in the olive tree is still covered.Use this time to purchase a simple moisture meter. This device now makes it easy to decide when and how much to water your olive tree. The probe is inserted into the substrate. The integrated scale indicates whether the soil is wet, semi-dry or dehydrated. How to water conform:
  • The moisture meter signals dry substrate, is poured
  • Slowly pour the normal tap water onto the root disk
  • When the first drops trickle out from under the bucket, the pouring is stopped
In summer, an olive tree is cast much more often than during the winter season. If there is any doubt about whether or not to pour, leave the watering can. Short-term dryness endures a real olive tree easily without it immediately loses its leaves.

nutrient deficiency

Solution: Nitrogen-stressed fertilize
If you cultivate your olive tree planted in the garden, you can exclude this point within the root cause analysis for yellow leaves and leaf fall. Since an Olea europaea rooted up to 7 meters deep in the soil, it gets in normal garden soil at any time under nutrient deficiency. In contrast, keeping in the bucket requires regular nutrient supply since the available substrate volume is very limited. At the following indications, limit nutrient deficiency from cause:
  • The leaves turn flat yellow
  • There are no other changes, such as necrosis or crippling
  • It is a container plant that is not fertilized
  • The affected olive tree has not been repotted for a long time
If these criteria are met, the plant suffers from a lack of nitrogen. This macronutrient is also referred to as the motor of growth because it significantly drives the vegetation of the leaves. A shortage of nitrogen affects the entire metabolism, resulting in yellow leaves that die and fall to the ground. How to solve the problem:
  • Immediately administer a liquid fertilizer for Mediterranean plants
  • Ideally repot the leafless olive tree into fresh substrate
  • In future, fertilize regularly from March to September according to the manufacturer's instructions
  • Optionally, in March and June administer a slow-release fertilizer
Common nitrogen suppliers for native garden plants, such as blue-grain or Entec, do not meet the special requirements of a true olive tree. Therefore, please use special fertilizer for Mediterranean plants, such as the olive liquid fertilizer from Cuxin, olive fertilizer HIGH-TECH Olea from Green24 or Chrystal fertilizer Mediterranean plants with a duration of 3 months.

Summer drought stress

Solution: diving
The frequent plea to pour only sparingly an olive tree, often lead to drought. In an effort to prevent waterlogging, worried olive growers spend too little in summer. In response, the leaves turn yellow, dry and fall off. If you suspect this cause of the problem, take a close look at the root ball. In doubt, spit out the tree to examine the condition of the earth. If the suspicion proves to be justified, proceed as follows:
  • Fill a bucket or tub with normal tap water
  • Immerse the parched root ball in it until no more air bubbles rise
  • Water a planted olive tree with the garden hose for at least 10 minutes

Olive tree - Olea europaea

Immediately modify the water supply so that you water the olive tree in a well-dried soil in a timely manner. A moisture meter ideally replaces the thumb sample with more reliable results.

fungal diseases

Solution: Remove sick leaves and treat with fungicides
If an olive tree suffers from too much moisture, fungal diseases are not far away. In particular, the spores of ophthalmopathy, Spilocaea oleaginea, lurk on weakened Olea europaea. This infection is the most common cause of the one leaf fall in the summer. Characteristic symptoms are round, bright spots with dark margins that spread on the yellowing foliage. If this disease is not stopped, the tree stands there in a short time in the middle of the summer. How to proceed professionally:
  • All of the infected leaves should be picked off and disposed of in the household waste
  • Collect already fallen leaves to prevent further spreading
  • Treat the olive tree with a copper preparation, such as Atempo Copper-Mushroom-Free from Neudorff
The fungus infection Mycocentrospora cladosporioides, which makes life difficult for farmers in many olive plantations, has similar symptoms. Sometimes the pathogens are introduced via import into nurseries, so that especially young olive trees lose their leaves due to this. Here the experience has shown that the removal of the infected, yellow leaves can already stop the disease process, without you having to resort to fungicides. This is at least true if less than 30 percent of the leaves have the disease symptoms.
Tip: Growth with evergreen foliage does not imply that the individual leaves of the olive tree have leased eternal life. Rather, their life is limited to 2 to 3 years. If individual leaves turn yellow and fall off, this is a natural process that requires no countermeasures.
If your olive tree loses its leaves, this is a legitimate cause for concern. This alarm signal indicates that the Mediterranean characters are fighting for their survival. Since there are manifold causes behind the damage pattern, it is only a decided analysis that shows what countermeasures are required. Most common triggers for the dilemma are lack of light, waterlogging, nutrient deficiency, drought stress and disease. Immediate solutions to these problems can be found here. If the rescue operation leads to a kind-appropriate care, your afflicted olive tree regenerates quickly and sets in scene with the usual lush, evergreen leaves dress.

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