In regions with cold winters, olive trees can only thrive as container plants in the garden. The beautiful crown and graceful silhouette create a truly Mediterranean flair. Despite its exotic status, it is an undemanding plant. However, there may be some difficulties with wintering. But you shouldn’t despair! If you want to overwinter your olive tree properly, then follow our tips!
If you want to overwinter your olive tree properly, then follow our tips!
Overwintering an olive tree – what should you take into account?
Olives cannot be counted among the capricious trees. They tolerate heat very well, are not overly sensitive to temperature fluctuations and require standard care from spring to autumn. But low frost resistance means that these plants can only overwinter indoors. And if they cope with all surprises in the garden in summer with amazing ease, olive trees often surprise unpleasantly in winter by completely shedding their lush, grayish-colored leaves. Even partial preservation of the crown in winter is considered a stroke of luck by many admirers of this southern plant, but in fact only wintering can be considered successful, after which an olive tree has retained its crown unchanged. The reason for winter problems with olive trees lies in the incorrect approach to watering during the dormant period. The olives react slowly and the first consequences of a “drought” can only be observed after a few weeks. However, temperature and lighting are by no means less important for these woody plants.
The low frost resistance means that olive trees can only overwinter indoors
Necessary conditions for the olive tree in winter
Despite their heat-loving nature, olive trees should not overwinter in warm rooms, but rather at the lowest possible temperatures that do not fall below 0 degrees Celsius. The closer the temperature is to zero, the better. An acceptable range for these southern plants is overwintering at temperatures of 0 to 15 degrees, but even 12-15 degrees is too high for olives and results in increased susceptibility to pests. Olive trees often suffer from aphids, spider mites and mealybugs during a warm winter. Finding a suitable overwintering space for olive trees is difficult enough, and the requirement to combine coolness with bright light complicates the process even more. Because without sufficient light, olive trees become sick, the development cycle is disrupted, the flower buds suffer and the crown is completely shed. Olive trees feel very comfortable in a cold winter garden, on a balcony or loggia that is not too cold but not too warm.
Despite their heat-loving nature, olive trees should not overwinter in warm rooms, but rather at temperatures as low as possible
Caring for olive trees in winter
In order for olives to overwinter successfully, they must not lack moisture: the soil should not be allowed to dry out completely under any circumstances. Lack of watering and an incorrect approach to moistening these Mediterranean plants most often cause problems during the winter and in particular are the main cause of leaf drop. However, improper moistening has long-lasting effects and the damage it causes to the plant may not be immediately recognizable by the characteristic signs.
Olives do not like excessive watering in both summer and winter, but unlike their relatives growing in open ground in the south, they prefer very stable growing conditions. As the cold season approaches, watering plants becomes more economical, focusing on the speed of drying out of the soil (it should dry out completely between procedures only in the upper layer and remain slightly moist in the center of the pot).
In order for olives to overwinter successfully, they must not lack moisture
By reducing the amount of water rather than the frequency of watering, you avoid the risk of the soil drying out during winter dormancy. In the cold season, no water should remain in the bowl after watering.
As soon as signs of regrowth appear in spring, the olives should be transplanted into a fresh substrate (even for mature trees, annual transplanting is preferable). With the onset of spring, watering becomes more abundant and gradually increased, slowly increasing the humidity and switching to the usual summer regime only in May-June in the garden.
As soon as there are signs of renewed growth in spring, the olives should be transplanted into a fresh substrate