02 Dec 2021

In The Garden With Jo: All about olive trees

With Jo McGarry of Caragh Nurseries

In The Garden With Jo: All about olive trees

Olive trees

This week we are talking about all things olive. These Mediterranean trees are becoming one of the biggest sellers on the nursery. They have always been a firm favourite for smaller gardens or in pots to add a different foliage and give off that holiday feel. I have two in my own garden and I just love them. However, in the last six months we are selling just as many olive trees for inside as we are for outside, and we are often asked about the care of these trees.

Let’s look at olive trees for the outdoors first. Anyone who has an olive tree in the garden will know how reasonably easy they are to keep. They need a good amount of water, although they don’t like to be sitting in water or waterlogged ground. They need an occasional feed - usually I’d feed mine twice a year with something really simple like a tomato or seaweed feed, once in March and again in August. I tend to keep mine outside all winter, and only protect it if we are going to get a really cold snap, then I bring them closer to the house for cover. One of my ‘outside’ olives is much too big to do that, however, with a very large terracotta pot. It’s not possible to move it but only once did it lose its foliage, which came back the following spring/summer - a huge relief!


Inside, olives can be a little trickier, which is more to do with the heat and light in the house, especially as so many houses have underfloor heating these days. I would always advise my customers to get a pot that is big enough. The temptation is to get one of the nice baskets that look lovely, but unless you can get one big enough, I would avoid those.

Olives need room to put down their roots, and, also, a smaller pot makes watering even trickier. It really is a case of trial and error to find the right amount of water for to suit the olive and the atmosphere in your house. Try three times a week and just keep checking the soil to make sure it’s neither too dry nor too wet. Use the same feed at the same time, and ensure that your tree has enough light but is not in really strong direct sunlight. When you have the perfect spot, and you’ve found just the right water regime for your tree, it's all plain sailing from there.

Little or large

The sizes of the olive trees you choose will depend on the room you have. I have a beauty of an old rugged one with a huge wide but low trunk with a large head of foliage which I just love, and inside I have a much smaller sized one, 8-10cm in girth, in my hallway in a lovely pot, which is happy there. We have a huge selection of olive trees in stock here at Caragh Nurseries, and can advise you on which one to choose for your space.

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