Olives, all you need to know

Posted 26th May 2011 in Nursery Ramblings

Q. Are olives hardy enough to grow in the UK?

Essentially Yes. This last winter has proved a serious test and has finished off trees that have originated from warmer climes. It is essential that the olives sourced come from areas of Europe that get regular cold periods during the winter. Provenance is key

Q. Are they easy to grow.

Yes! They can be grown in a container, raised bed or in the ground. A nice sunny position is vital along with good drainage.

Q. Should I feed my olive?

Water the olive in thoroughly when planting and until established. The important thing is to let your olive dry out in between waterings. Water well then leave to dry out. Watering through the winter months should not really be needed. An olive in the ground will not need watering once established.

Q. Should I feed my olive?

If your tree is in the ground then an annual spring feed with some blood, fish and bone is more than enough. If in a container the same applies plus 3 or 4 applications of any liquid plant food. If your tree has struggled this past winter then an extra liquid feed will give it a much needed boost to get it re leafed and looking lovely again.

Q. Can I prune my olive?

Yes! Olives can re generate from old wood so get you secateurs ready. We think a harder prune every 2nd spring is best. Around Easter time will make the most of the growing season. Treat it like any other fruit tree, thin out the centre, remove any dead wood along with crossing branches and don't be afraid to get cutting. An extra feed at this time would be good too.

Q. Should I re pot my olive?

Olives will need re potting every 3 years or so depending on how good you are at keeping it fed (if you are diligent you can keep it going longer) but be realistic, some of the trees you can buy come in tiny pots. Don't be mean give the roots some space to grow. The perfect olive compost mix is: 30% John Innes No. 3, 40% of quality peat based multipurpose and 30% grit of perlite. To finish it off dress the surface with a fine grit. If you are planting in the ground be sure to improve the drainage.

Q. Do olives suffer with any pests and diseases?

The only two problems we ever come across are woolly aphid in the spring- little balls of cotton wool like substance in the leaf axles and on new shoots. These can be physically rubbed of or sprayed off with a stream of water. The other issue is peacock spot. This looks like rose black spot. The best way to deal with it is by prevention. A winter spray with a copper based fungicide such as Bordeaux mixture should prevent it happening. Also clear away any infected leaves

Olives, all you need to know

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