For an authentic Mediterranean touch in your garden!
Recognizable at first glance, the olive tree immediately evokes the south, the heat and the song of the cicadas. No wonder it’s so popular! And by the way, you don’t have to live in the south to take advantage of its beautiful evergreen foliage: the olive tree can grow anywhere in France!
If you are wondering when and how to plant it, how to prune it or how to take care of it, here you have precisely everything you need to know about the olive tree !
When to plant an olive tree?
The right time to plant an olive tree mainly depends on the region where you live, the climatic conditions and the way you want to plant this olive tree (in a pot or in the ground). As you can imagine, the recommendations are not the same if you live in the south of France or in Brittany.
The olive tree in a pot
The olive tree is planted in pots between october and march. Depending on the outside temperature (if it drops too low, in particular), you can bring it in quite easily. In addition, during periods of extreme cold with frost, the olive tree must be placed in a bright, dry and cool room to protect it.
On the other hand, if you live in a region like the South of France which does not really experience harsh winters with long periods of freezing temperatures, this planting period can be extended from September to June. Just avoid the summer heat.
The olive tree on the ground
In the open field, it is best to plant the olive tree in the spring, between march and june. A young olive tree will thus have a few months to prepare before its first winter! If you live north of the Loire and the winter is harsh, then the ideal is to wrap the branches and the trunk with a non-woven winter veil. And in any case, we recommend that you choose a species that is more cold-tolerant (like Aglandau and Cipressino) and that has grown in your region than in the south or in Spain (4-year-old plant for example). So your olive tree will not have to get used to the new climatic conditions!
But if you live in the south and your olive tree does not have to fear frost, the planting conditions are once again less restrictive. You can do this over a much longer period, from fall to spring. It is also necessary here to avoid the great heat of the summer.
Where to plant an olive tree?
For a ground planting of an olive tree, it is important not to choose just any location. Sun exposure must be good (preferably south) but this place must also be sufficiently sheltered from prevailing winds. The ideal, and always with the aim of offering the olive tree the best exposure to the sun, is to also plant it at a minimum distance of 4 m from the other trees in your garden. Also remember that despite its slow growth, the olive tree can reach 10 m in diameter. Also avoid planting it too close to your home!
As for the location, it is also best not to plant the olive tree in any type of soil! The ideal soil for planting must in particular be well drained because the tree does not tolerate heavy and humid soils well. If so, you must avoid calcareous and clayey soilshowever, it is always possible to plant an olive tree in damp or waterlogged soil as long as you take a few specific precautions (layer of sand, rubble, pebbles or even slightly raising the tree to protect the roots from the humidity of the Earth).
How to plant an olive tree?
- To plant an olive tree in the ground, start by dig a hole much larger in diameter than the roots.
- Dig the bottom of the hole and add some slow-decomposing fertilizer.
- If your soil tends to retain water, add a good layer of sand first before adding soil and adding fertilizer.
- Then add potting soil and a little sand. to the ground you removed.
- Cover the bottom of the hole with 10 to 15 cm of this soil so that the roots of the olive tree do not directly touch the fertilizer.
- If your olive tree was in a pot or tray, remove it and let the clod soak in a large container of water for 30 minutes to 1 hour.
- Then place your olive tree in the center of the hole.
- Make sure the the roots are buried just below the surfaceto a maximum of 5 cm.
- Fill in the hole around your olive tree with the rest of your soil.
- tamp down slightly with the foot
- Form a basin around your tree with the excess soil.
- Water thoroughly so that the soil adheres well to the roots.
How to prune an olive tree?
Pruning an olive tree is essential! Whether the tree is young or adult, pruning allows both to give it a perfect aesthetic and to make it grow in good health. As the tree naturally tends to gain in diameter rather than in height, pruning makes it possible, for example, to keep sunlight penetrating its heart. This pruning is also necessary to prevent attacks by parasites but also to obtain a tree well loaded with olive trees.
Like most fruit trees, the olive tree needs 3 types of pruning: formation pruning, maintenance pruning and fruiting pruning. These prunings should be done in early spring, when the frost period has passed but the first flowers have not yet appeared!
This is the first pruning of the olive tree, which occurs at the time of planting in the ground, when the tree is large enough (i.e. it is at least 4 years old and its trunk measures about 1 meter). It is used to shape the olive tree..
- Select the 4 or 5 main branches of your olive tree (the biggest ones).
- Using pruners, cut off all the others.
- For a goblet pruned olive tree, also cut the central branch. (This crown pruning promotes good ventilation of the tree, excellent sun penetration and better future fruiting).
Maintenance pruning is what to do annually, preferably in February or March depending on when low temperatures end in your area. (You can also opt for careful maintenance of your olive tree and only prune it every 2 or 3 years.) The main purpose of this pruning is purely ornamental, that is to say, it serves to preserve the aesthetic aspect of the olive tree. . Also, be sure to always keep a harmonious shape, which respects the natural structure of the tree. Never prune your olive tree into a ball, for example: this could encourage the appearance of scale insects!
- Cut off all the branches that branch off the trunk.
- Also cut all the nuts, that is to say the shoots that grow at the foot of the tree.
- Finally, prune any branches that grow inward. (As well as keeping your olive tree well-ventilated, this will also prevent it from creating a haven for pests.)
fruiting body size
This size, to reach preferably every 2 years (always in early spring) is to encourage the production of olive trees. She voluntarily regulates the number of olives that will grow so that all the fruit is as tasty as possible. In an olive tree, you should know that the fruits that grow closer to the trunk are the best!
- Using a pruning saw, prune branches that bore fruit the previous year. (The removal of these twigs triggers the growth of new productive twigs.)
- Then cut the bent branches, but just after the last branch and before the bend.
- Also cut the new branches that come out of the trunk.
- Also shorten the strongest branches by a third. (The olive tree remains compact so that the harvest is of good quality.)
- Finally, of course, remove all dead wood.
How to maintain an olive tree?
The olive tree may be a robust tree with exceptional longevity, but it is not immune to disease and attacks by parasites. Some diseases are more serious than others (especially when fungi take over), but there are plenty of natural treatments and solutions to cure an olive tree and keep it growing healthy.
The leaves are turning yellow
Leaves of an olive tree turning yellow are not a problem at all. It’s even a natural phenomenon! Although the tree keeps its leaves throughout the year, these are not eternal and therefore have a life cycle. After 2-3 years they begin to turn yellow and fall off. After a few years, an olive tree still has a few yellow leaves scattered among the foliage. On the other hand, if there are a lot of yellow leaves, and on whole branches, it is likely that you are watering your olive tree too much. Remember that he does not like wet areas!
Presence of white foam
If your olive tree has white moss, a kind of fibrous, sticky little ball of cotton on the young shoots, this is due to a pest called the olive psylla. This little insect feeds on the sap, and what you see on your tree is what the larvae produce. It is not dangerous for your tree as such: you just have to remove it before it becomes sooty mold. Usually other insects take care of it and it’s gone by the time the flowers open, but you can also remove the cotton balls with a cloth or a jet of water!
Black deposit on the leaves.
We were talking about sooty mold, and that is what it is when the leaves of your olive tree show a black deposit. It’s actually a fungus that covers the foliage but it does exactly that: it doesn’t attack the leaves. However, it should not be allowed to root as it interferes with photosynthesis and will tend to smother the leaves. To get rid of them, you can carefully clean the leaves by hand if your olive tree is young or spray it (in early spring) with Bordeaux mixture.
Round spots on the leaves.
This disease, called peacock eye, is usually present on the leaves but can also affect the fruit. Again it is caused by a fungus, it is characterized by small round brown spots, and can cause, in the long term, both the fall of the affected leaves and a lower taste quality of the olives harvested. It is not very aesthetic either, and to end it, it is recommended once again to apply Bordeaux mixture to your olive tree.
Are the leaves of your olive tree eaten into a bow? It’s probably the fault of a small black beetle called a vine weevil. It tends to rage at night and hide during the day, so you might have a hard time spotting it! But on the other hand, it usually leaves little black droppings on the leaves, and that’s a detail you can’t go wrong with. Since it does not live on your tree, the best way to stop it is to tape the trunk of your olive tree. You will then no longer be able to go upstairs to eat!
growths on the branches
If you feel like the branches of your olive tree have warts, your tree has canker. This disease of bacterial origin sets in following an injury to the bark and gradually kills the branch on which it is installed. As there is no treatment to make it disappear, the recommended solution is to cut the infected branch. (If it’s a woodpecker branch, you can try removing all the infected parts, scraping the bark, applying fungicide and healing sealant, but the results are not 100% guaranteed %).