Gardeners' World: Monty discusses Xylella in olive trees
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Olive trees can flourish during warm UK summers if you plant and care for them correctly. Thinking about planting an olive tree in your garden but not sure where to start? Express.co.uk chatted to the experts at Sutton Manor Nursery to find out how to successfully grow an olive tree and produce fruit.
You can plant your olive tree in a small pot to start with, but after the first year of growth, you’ll need to transfer it into a bigger pot.
This will ensure the olive tree has enough room to grow and the soil doesn’t lose its nutrients.
When it’s time to buy a new pot, choose a deep pot with drainage holes to mimic the dry climate olive trees prefer.
Olive trees demand well-drained soil and if the damp soil around the roots can’t pass through, the plant will die. The drainage holes will stop the pot base from getting soggy and keep the plant alive.
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If you’re desperate to plant an olive tree in the soil, Sutton Manor Nursery has explained how it can be done.
Dig a hole roughly the same size as the tree’s container and half the size again. Take the tree out and have a look at the roots, leaving the root ball as undisturbed as possible.
When you plant the tree, try not to add massive amounts of soil or organic matter.
This is because it could limit any new growth of the roots and stop them from growing into the natural soil.
Add Agricultural gravel to the hole before the soil to increase drainage. Remember, Olive trees hate dampness!
Alternatively, you can re-pot your Olive tree. If so, allow the soil to dry out before you re-pot.
Loosen the soil along the edges of the pot and firmly pull the tree up by gripping the main stem base.
Pop some extra soil into the new pot and place the tree into it. Fill the pot in with compost and soil.
Keep your Olive tree watered for a few weeks as this will allow the roots to grow.
If you go with this method, you’ll need to re-pot the tree every few years in autumn or late spring until it reaches its full height.
You must also make sure your tree is protected in cold weather.
How much sun does an olive tree need?
Because Olives are Mediterranean trees, they love sunshine and need lots of it to produce fruit.
The experts said: “In the summer, make sure to position your plant in the sunniest area of your garden.”
Ideally, you should place your tree in a sun trapped area of your garden such as a south-facing wall.
Although the UK can experience hot spells, it can also get quite cold.
This is why it’s important to make sure you’ve got suitable shelter as well.
The experts added: “Unlike Mediterranean weather where it’s consistently hot, British weather can never seem to make its mind up, frequently changing every day!”
If your garden has less protection or it’s particularly cold where you live, grow your Olive tree indoors in an unheated conservatory or greenhouse.
Remember, the olive tree still needs direct sunlight to survive even if it’s cold.
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Other than keeping your olive tree in the right position to receive enough sunlight, you’ll also need to be pruned and watered every now and then.
As mentioned, olive trees don’t like wet or damp conditions so you only need to water them in small amounts in the summer.
The experts said: “It’s a good idea to let the soil dry out before you water it again, to prevent it from becoming too wet.
“During the winter, your tree will need very little to no water.
“When it comes to feeding your tree, they don’t actually need any special feed, however, a small amount of balanced liquid fertiliser is a good idea.”
Olive trees are slow-growing so you don’t need to worry about pruning them regularly.
However, you can pull back some of the new growth to encourage new shoots to grow if you like.
The experts added: “If you do decide to prune, be sure to get rid of any dead branches immediately.
“You can also remove any branches that are making the tree look misshapen.
If you want to prune to reshape your tree, it shouldn’t be done before it’s two to four years old.
“This is because a young Olive tree needs lots of leaves in order to have the energy to grow into a large, healthy plant.
“If you over-prune your tree, you run the risk of it growing water shoots that won’t produce any fruit.”
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