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  3. Care Guide: Growing Olive Trees in the UK

Care Guide: Growing Olive Trees in the UK

Growing olive trees in your garden is an excellent way to add a Mediterranean feel to your outdoor space. Not only are they beautiful to look at, but they’re also quite easy to grow in the UK. This is our full guide to growing and caring for olive trees in your UK garden.

Key Facts

Common NameOlive tree
Botanical NameOlea europaea
FamilyOleaceae
Plant TypeEvergreen tree
Mature Size4-8m tall, 1.5-2.5m wide
Sun ExposureFull sun
Soil TypeWell-drained
Soil pHAny pH
ToxicityNot toxic
SpringSummerAutumnWinter
Flower
Foliage
Fruit

Plant Care

Light

Olive trees are happiest in bright, direct sunlight. This mimics their natural Mediterranean climate. Pick a sunny, sheltered spot.

Soil

Grow your olive tree in fertile, well-drained soil. They are not fussy about the pH or type of soil they’re growing in, as long as it drains quickly to avoid rotting the shallow roots.

Water

The natural environment of an olive tree is hot and dry, meaning they’re quite drought-tolerant plants. Overwatering them can cause root rot. However, remember that soil in pots will dry out much faster so will need more frequent watering.

Temperature/Humidity

Olive trees prefer the heat, thriving in temperatures between 21-29°C. It is, however, rare for us to see these temperatures in the UK for long periods of time; don’t worry, your olive tree will grow in temperatures as low as -9°C for short periods. Olive trees ideally need 40-60% humidity to thrive.

Common Problems, Pests, & Diseases

Scale insects

These insects get their name from the scale-like appearance of the adults. They suck sap from plants and can weaken them, so it’s best to treat a plant with heavy infestations. Light infestations, however, can be tolerated.

Xylella fastidiosa

Olive trees are at high risk of hosting the bacterium Xylella fastidiosa. This can cause disease for a wide range of plants, but hasn’t yet been detected in the UK.

Seasonal Care

Spring

  • Repot or plant out
  • Prune in late spring

Summer

  • Prune in early summer if not done in spring
  • Fertilise and water frequently

Autumn

  • Water regularly, reducing as temperatures drop

Winter

  • Give your tree some extra protection if there are intense cold snaps forecast
  • Reduce watering for younger trees, stop watering established trees

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I grow an olive tree in the UK?

Yes. Olive trees can grow happily in UK climates with the right care.

Do olive trees grow better in pots or the ground?

While they can grow in either condition, we recommend growing olive trees in pots so that they can be moved to more suitable conditions if necessary.

Can I eat the olives from my olive tree?

Yes. If you manage to get your olive tree to fruit, you can cure it for eating. Just make sure the olives are ripe beforehand.

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Updated on May 9, 2024

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