Gardening Diary - How to Care for Olive Trees
Our first fine weekend after sooo much rain! At last all those projects that we’ve been talking about but putting off because, frankly, who wants to get wet, muddy and soggy, can now get underway.
The potted olive trees seem to have survived the snow and frosts but are looking, well, raggedy, unlike this lovely one outside Liberty London last summer. If, like me, you think the cure is lots of water and food, think again. That is actually the worst thing you can give them! Yes, really. Olive trees are used to Mediterranean temperatures and dry soil so they really need similar treatment at home. The key is good drainage. Without exception, olive trees require well-drained soil. They can tolerate most soil/types but unless the dampness at the roots can easily pass through they will slowly decline and die.
Do not add gravel to the soil, this can add to drainage problems. If your olive tree is growing in a pot, it will need watering but not soaking. If you are not sure when to water, push your finger into the soil about an inch and if it is dry, it is time to water.
What they really love is as much sunlight as possible, although they can tolerate some shade. Think carefully about where you place them, so that they can make the most of the sunshine. Cold winds are very damaging to them so try to position them where they have some protection. Ideally, place them against a warm wall facing south or west and avoid north and east aspects. To keep them looking their best, light pruning during the warmer months, and definitely no later than August, will help to keep their shape and stimulate leaf growth.
To bring a raggedy olive tree back to health, I’m going to give them a regular light dose of a liquid feed and ensure they are kept moist but not soaking, pick off any damaged and dead leaves and give them a O’Hara prine to keep their shape compact. Fingers crossed, they will soon be back to health.
Okay, wellies on and off into the garden ...