An olive tree is a beautiful addition to any terrace or balcony, with its silvery gray lancet-shaped leaves creating a holiday ambiance. However, as the tree grows, it may become too large for its container, requiring repotting. In this article, we will provide you with a detailed guide on repotting olive trees, including the best time to repot, choosing the right pot, selecting the appropriate soil, and step-by-step instructions for repotting.
When should you repot an olive tree?
The timing of repotting an olive tree depends on its growth. Young olive trees tend to grow faster and may require more frequent repotting. A good rule of thumb is to repot the tree when the diameter of its crown exceeds that of the pot. Another clear signal that it's time for repotting is when roots start emerging from the pot's drainage hole. The ideal time to repot is just before the new growing season, typically at the end of winter or the beginning of spring. This allows the tree to dedicate its energy to root formation. Alternatively, repotting can also be done before wintering, using fresh soil without nutrients to prevent premature budding during the winter rest period, which could weaken the tree and make it vulnerable to disease.
The right pot for the olive tree
The choice of pot is crucial for the overall health of the olive tree. Ideally, a terracotta or clay pot is recommended as these materials help regulate soil moisture and provide a better root climate. If a plastic pot is chosen, it is important to ensure proper drainage to prevent water stagnation.
When repotting, select a pot with a diameter approximately four centimeters larger than the previous one. However, if you only intend to provide fresh and nutrient-rich soil without promoting further growth, reusing the same pot is acceptable. Opting for a terracotta container not only provides the desired root climate but also complements the Mediterranean appearance of the olive tree.
Choosing the right soil for the olive tree
Olive trees thrive in permeable substrates that offer good root grip. One option is to mix garden soil with sand, wood or coco fibers, clay, bark humus, compost, and seaweed lime. Garden soil and compost should make up about one third each of the mixture, with ten percent seaweed lime added. The rest can be filled with filler materials such as coco or wood fibers. This combination creates a well-structured substrate that provides support and nutrients for the roots. Special citrus soil, although not essential, is also available at specialist retailers. Potting soil for container plants can also be used, mixed with carbonated lime and expanded clay.
How to repot an olive tree
Repotting an olive tree is a relatively simple process that can be done with a partner. Here are the step-by-step instructions:
- Gently pull the olive tree upwards to remove it from the pot. If the pot is heavy, place the plant down.
- If the roots are stuck to the terracotta pot, carefully run a knife along the inner wall of the pot to loosen them, being cautious not to damage the roots.
- Tap the worn substrate of the root ball to remove it and clear the root system.
- Trim any rotten or atrophied roots.
- If you do not want the olive tree to grow any larger, trim the fine roots and replant it in the same pot with fresh soil.
- Line the bottom of the new pot with a pottery shard and add a layer of expanded clay, gravel, or pebbles with a maximum thickness of five centimeters.
- Place a permeable non-woven fabric on top of the drainage layer and then fill with a layer of soil.
- Center the olive tree in the pot and fill in the remaining substrate around it, occasionally tamping the soil.
- Finally, water the plant thoroughly.
Pruning olive trees is another essential aspect of their care to maintain their shape and promote a lush crown. Proper pruning techniques will be discussed in a separate article.
In conclusion, repotting an olive tree is crucial for its healthy development. By choosing the right time to repot, selecting the appropriate pot and soil, and following the correct repotting procedures, you can ensure that your olive tree thrives in its new container, bringing the beautiful Mediterranean ambiance to your balcony or terrace.