As a reminder of Mediterranean holidays, the olive tree is perfect, needing very little maintenance and being particularly hardy. One tree won’t keep you in olive or oil all year, but the white flowers and the drooping fruit that goes from green to black will be a delight. A potted olive makes an excellent and sophisticated gift. All plants are covered by our two year guarantee.
The olive tree is an evergreen, native to the Mediterranean, Asia and Africa. Short and squat with a gnarled and twisted trunk, it rarely exceeds 8–15 metres (26–49 ft) in height. In Britain they are much more likely to only grow to 5-7metres. According to a recent scientific survey, dozens of ancient olive trees are around 1,600-2,000 years old.
In the UK, olive trees perform well in the milder microclimates – here in the south-west, and in particular coastal areas and urban locations.
The olive tree you buy from Cleeve Nursery will be just a youngster, but keep it in a sheltered sunny spot – ideally south or west facing with some protection from the north and east winds – and it will last a lifetime and more!
Slow growing, your olive will be disease- and fire-resistant and will quite happily survive a summer drought, but temperatures below −10 °C (14.0 °F) may injure even a mature tree. So if you like the oh-so-stylish look of an olive in a pot (they suit the wonderful terracotta and blue-glazed pots we sell at Cleeve Nursery), you must be prepared to protect it over winter.
Olive trees will grow happily in containers for many years and don’t like to be disturbed, so re-pot when absolutely necessary and choose a pot that is only slightly larger. Because of this they are low maintenance, but they deserve a good start. Pot them into our excellent well drained own brand Cleeve Nursery multipurpose compost which is soil based and peat reduced..
Generally, olive trees planted out in a sheltered garden will be fairly safe, although you might like to wrap them in horticultural fleece to be sure on the coldest nights. Plant them in free-draining soil – acidic or alkaline – that will not become waterlogged during the wetter parts of the year. Add organic compost to sandy soils and drainage to clay soils.
Prune lightly in mid-spring to maintain the size and shape, with heavier trimming in early to mid-summer to give the tree time to recover before the dormant winter period. Never prune during late autumn or winter.
Feed your olive tree with seaweed extract fortnightly from May to September.