Olive trees grow rather slowly. From time to time, however, they need a larger pot and fresh soil. We show you what is important when you want to repot an olive tree.
Why should I repot my olive tree?
An olive tree grows rather slowly, but at some point the pot is rooted and all the nutrients from the soil are used up. Then it’s time to give the roots more space again and supply the plant with fresh, nutrient-rich soil. This way, your olive tree will continue to thrive.
It is important to allow the pot to grow only slightly larger each time it is repotted. If the increase in size is too great, the roots will develop well, but growth above the soil surface will lag behind.
How often to repot an olive tree?
How often you repot your olive tree depends on its age. Younger trees are repotted more often than older ones.
An olive tree is still young even if it has a few years under its belt. As long as the trunk is still slender and its bark is smooth, it is a young olive tree. Our Bloomify Olive Olivia, with a height of about one meter, also falls into this category.
A young olive tree should be repotted every 1 – 2 years. It is still growing and needs fresh soil regularly. However, the pot does not necessarily have to be larger each time. Pay attention to how much the substrate is already rooted and whether the roots in the pot are already getting crowded.
You can gradually increase the time between repotting until you reach an interval of about 5-7 years between each repotting, depending on the rooting.
Older olive trees very rarely need to be repotted and most of the time the pot size does not change then. Pot size limits growth, so you can also influence the size of your olive tree through pot size. This is practical if you have limited space.
Repotting olive tree: Immediately after purchase?
Yes, the olive tree is best repotted directly after purchase. Most plants have been in their pots for some time. The substrate is already heavily rooted and the nutrients in the soil are depleted. In addition, many plants need a much larger pot to thrive. The olive is not quite so demanding in this respect: a size increase of 4 – 6 cm in the diameter of the pot is enough for it.
Our Bloomify Olive Olivia arrives in a pot with a diameter of about 20 cm. So your new pot should have a diameter of about 24 – 26 cm.
Here’s all the info you need to know about buying an olive tree.
When should I repot my olive tree?
Ideally, repotting your olive tree should be done in early spring, around February to March. Perhaps the tree has spent the winter indoors or is still well protected on the terrace or balcony: in any case, the cold half of the year is finally coming to an end and your olive tree can be made ready for spring.
The temperatures in February and March are still low, but the first rays of sunshine ensure that the olive tree slowly awakens from its winter dormancy. Before it sprouts new shoots, it is a good time to repot it. This way, it can start the new garden season well taken care of.
However, always pay attention to the climate in your region and the weather forecasts. In regions with very cold winters, you may have to wait until April to repot. And if another severe night frost is forecast, you should also wait a little longer.
Repotting the olive tree: What do you need?
To repot an olive tree, you don’t need many accessories. While some important things should not be missing, others are optional. For example, the olive tree doesn’t need to be moved to a larger container every time you repot it – every now and then, it’s enough to just replace the soil.
Olive trees are shallow rooted. This means that they do not develop deep roots like lemon trees, for example. You may have seen an old, gnarled olive tree whose thick roots can even be seen above ground. Thus, you should choose a pot in which the roots have room to grow in width. Rather slender, tall pots are less suitable – and also less tilt-resistant.
You will definitely need
- a pot
- fresh soil
- a small shovel
- material for drainage
- Garden shears
Everything about the right soil
Olive trees often stand in loamy soil when purchased. This is because they are grown in Italy, for example, and then transported to us in Europe. It is therefore a soil that is not typical for our climate, which has some disadvantages. Clay soil can store water very well, which is good when it rains rarely. In our country, on the contrary, it rains much more often and the risk of waterlogging increases. In addition, clay soil is often very cold in the winter and the water stored in it can freeze when it freezes.
This means that you should transplant an olive tree into a different soil after buying it. The best way to do this is to mix your own olive tree soil. You can use the following “basic recipe” as a guide. However, it is perfectly okay if you do not follow the quantities 100%.
As a base for the soil you need:
- ⅓ Garden soil
- ⅓ compost, well rotted
- ⅔ purchased potting soil
- for example citrus soil, palm soil, soil for Mediterranean plants.
- but it also works normal potting soil
- it should be peat-free in any case!
For the last third for example:
- coconut fibers instead of peat
- sand (for the sandbox or bathing sand for birds/rodents)
- fine gravel
- clay granules
- Drainage material
Sounds complicated? Here’s an example:
A standard 25 cm diameter pot holds about 10 liters of soil. You can easily calculate the volume of soil using handy online tools.
If you have garden soil and compost available, you can use a good 3 liters of each. With purchased soil you need about 6.5 liters.
Now you have about 3.5 liters left. About one liter takes up the drainage layer at the bottom of the pot. The remaining 2.5 liters is divided among materials that loosen the soil so that watering and rainwater can drain away more quickly. You can use coconut fiber to replace peat. You should also mix in some sand, fine gravel or clay granules.
Citrus soil for the olive tree?
Olive trees and citrus trees are both Mediterranean plants and have similar soil requirements. The big difference: olive trees need slightly alkaline soil with a pH between 7 and 8, while citrus plants like it more acidic. A pH of 5.5 to 6.5 is ideal for them. You can buy citrus plant soil and use it for your olive tree if you make it less acidic.
To do this, you mix it with material that raises the pH of the soil. Compost soil has this property, but it is also very rich in nutrients, so it should be used only in moderation. Lime also raises the pH – for example, mix crushed eggshells or mussel shells into the soil or water the olive tree with water containing lime.
Repotting olive tree: Do not forget drainage.
A drainage layer at the bottom of the pot is very important to prevent waterlogging. Depending on the size of the pot, it can vary in thickness. For a pot with a diameter of 25 cm, for example, 3 cm is sufficient.
Depending on the pot, lighter or heavier materials are suitable. If your olive is already in a heavy clay pot, you can use light materials such as expanded clay. For lighter pots, on the other hand, heavy, coarse gravel is also suitable.
Here are some materials that could be used:
- Expanded clay balls: lightweight and inexpensive, usually only available for purchase in large bags.
- Gravel, coarse or fine
- Crushed stone
- Clay granules, somewhat lighter than gravel
- Clay shards
- Drainage fleece/filter fleece, fine-meshed wire mesh.
The goal of drainage is to keep the drainage holes of the pot unclogged so that water can drain away properly. If you were to fill the pot directly with soil, the holes can become clogged with it.
One trick is to also place a slightly bent piece of clay over the drainage hole. So, the next time you drop a clay pot, plate or cup – be sure to pick up suitable shards. This is especially useful if your pot only has one hole, as is often the case with clay pots, for example.
If you fill the pot with soil right after the drainage layer, it will mix with the pebbles and grains over time. This is not so bad, but it makes it difficult to reuse the drainage material. It can be very tedious to pick the individual pebbles out of a root ball….
A layer in between is therefore a good idea. It must be water permeable, of course. Various filter materials from the aquarium supply are well suited. There is also special drainage fleece. A fine-meshed wire mesh can also be laid. The soil will still pass through, but the root ball will be easier to separate from the drainage later.
Here’s how: Repot the olive tree in 5 steps
Repotting an olive tree is not difficult and does not take that long. We recommend that you implement step 1 perhaps a day before the repotting action. You may need a larger pot than you thought or you may want to soak the root ball in water overnight.
It’s best to start by setting out all the materials you’ll need to repot. Find a place where you have enough space and can relax and get to work. 1.
- out of the old pot
The first thing you need to do is remove your olive tree from its old pot. Look at the root ball: Is the soil completely rooted? Do you need a bigger pot or do you take the old one again?
Loosen the root ball. You can also remove old soil. Be careful not to damage the roots. You may also notice that some of the roots are dead. You can cut them off.
If the old soil is very hardened and the root ball cannot be loosened at all, you can place it in a bucket of water for a few hours or overnight. In this case, you do not have to water the olive tree so much after repotting, because the roots have already soaked up water.
- spread drainage material
Now fill a drainage layer into the pot. If necessary, cover the drainage hole with a piece of clay beforehand. Depending on your preference, you can use gravel, stones, crushed stone, expanded clay balls or clay granules. Mixtures are also no problem. If you want to separate the layer from the soil, you can, for example, now lay out a fleece. 3.
- on the soil, ready, go
Test the olive tree in the pot. Is it too high or too deep? The root ball should be planted as deep as before. If it is too high, you will need to either reduce the drainage layer or remove more soil from the lower root ball. If it is too low, you can add more soil to the pot until it reaches the perfect height.
It is best to then hold the tree with one hand and keep it straight. Fill the pot with soil around the root ball. In between, you can press it down a bit, but do not compact it too much.
Repotting can be perfectly combined with fertilizing your olive tree. Olive trees do not need much fertilizer at all. Organic slow-release fertilizers that release their nutrients slowly over a long period of time are ideal. You can mix them into the soil.
- water march
Every plant needs to be watered after repotting or planting so that it grows well. Water your olive tree and make sure that the water can drain away well. The soil may still sag a bit at this point, so you may need to top off the pot a bit more.
- location check and a new hairstyle
Almost done, great! Depending on the weather, your olive tree can now move to its summer location. However, if it is still cool and uncomfortable, you can place it a bit more protected. Olive trees that have been overwintered indoors in a cool and bright location can be moved outdoors in the spring when there is no longer a threat of heavy frosts. Protect them from too much sunlight during the first days. Here you can find more information about the care of your olive tree.
You can combine the repotting with a pruning of the olive tree. This does not have to happen every year. For example, you can check if some branches have died during the winter. If you carefully scrape away the bark on these with your fingernail, they will be brown underneath and no longer green, and they will also break off easily. If, on the other hand, they are still green, they are still vital and will probably sprout again.
I have 30 years of experience and i started this website to see if i could try and share my knowledge to help you.
With a degree a Horticulture BSc (Hons)
I have worked as a horticulture specialist lead gardener, garden landscaper, and of course i am a hobby gardener at home in my own garden.
Please if you have any questions leave them on the article and i will get back to you personally.