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Generally speaking, bonsai means creating your own masterpiece in bonsai style that originated in China and Japan and becoming very popular across the world today. It’s an art form that takes what should be a large outdoor tree and makes a mini tree indoor tree from it.
Olive tree bonsai can grow in attractive shallow containers and are totally dependent upon the owner for care. They are wired, pruned and shaped as desired. With good bonsai olive tree care and maintenance, it will remain healthy, stunning, and will increase in this charming Mediterranean ancient look as it matures through the years.
Let’s look into the basic care and maintenance requirements after you made your own bonsai olive tree or purchased from the garden store.
Native olive trees grow in warm, sunny locations and that should be replicated for indoor bonsai olive trees. The potted tree can be placed outdoors in the summer and brought indoors when the weather begins to cool in fall.
Indoors or outdoors, place the bonsai olive tree in the sunniest location possible. An indoor location where the temperature will remain above 50 degrees F and the tree will receive 6-hours of direct sunlight each day is ideal. Supplement the sunlight with a grow light if needed.
If the bonsai olive tree will be outdoors during the summer months bring it inside for the winter when the outdoor air temperature nears 50 degrees F.
In fact, the olive tree bonsai watering requirements are slightly different comparing a regular potted olive tree because bonsai trees are usually planted in such small containers and have a tendency to dry out quickly. Check the container soil daily and never allow it to dry out between watering. Apply water at the base of the tree until it is dripping out of the bottom drainage holes often if needed on daily basis. Small gravel, moss, or other soil covering can be placed on top of the soil to help prevent erosion and the soil from drying out too quickly.
Indoor air is very dry due to heated or cooled air that causes all indoor moisture to evaporate quickly. Bonsai olive trees enjoy humidity and that can be given to them by placing the container in a shallow tray filled with pebbles and water. This will increase the humidity level around the tree without creating a soggy soil situation.
A light misting with water once a week and foliar feeding once a month will also help provide the desired humidity.
The bonsai olive tree is being grown in a small amount of soil and it quickly depletes the food supply within the soil. Feed the bonsai tree with a balanced liquid plant food mixed at one-half the recommended amount once a month during the growth season (spring-autumn). Every other month place the liquid food in a spray bottle and give your bonsai tree and foliar feeding.
Only feed the tree during the active growing months, withhold fertilizer during the winter, and after transplanting.
While it’s important to provide enough food to the tree, you don’t want to over-feed it. If a white crust develops on the top of the soil the tree is being over-fed. The white crust is salt from the plant food and will need to be flushed out of the soil.
To flush the salt from the soil, place the container in the sink (or outdoor during warm weather) and run water through the soil for 5 minutes. Allow excess water to drain through soil and reduce feedings to prevent future salt buildup.
Bonsai olive trees will need to be re-potted every 3-5 years to provide them with fresh bonsai soil and to encourage the root system to remain compact and well-fed.
Repotting should be done in spring or mid-summer. The tree, along with all of its soil, should be removed from the pot. Gently remove the bottom third of the soil from the roots and prune off the exposed roots.
Cut off the exposed roots, then re-pot the tree in fresh bonsai soil in the same container or one of similar size. Saturate the soil after the root-pruning and re-potting by placing the container in a tub of water. This will help eliminate any air pockets in the soil and ensure all roots are in contact with the soil.
Trimming and Training
Most bonsai olive trees that you purchase have already undergone their initial training period and will only require periodic trimming to keep them a miniature size. Trimming should be done in late winter, spring or summer.
Trim back most of the new growth as it develops to the farthest safe point. Never remove all of the new growth during a trimming session. A little new growth must be left to sustain the health of the tree.
Tender new branches you can pinch off with fingernails at any time of the year and older, more woody branches will need to be snipped off with sharp shears in the spring. Make the cuts clean and quick when pruning to avoid harming the tree. Stem pruning and pinching encourage smaller leaves and shorter internodes.
Pests and Diseases
A healthy bonsai olive tree will rarely have any type of pest or disease problem, especially if they are grown indoors year-round.
If the environment is too warm during the winter, the tree can be attacked by hungry mealybugs or scale.
Mealybugs congregate in clusters on the underside of leaves and leave behind a white, cotton-like substance. Remove them from your bonsai tree by dipping a cotton swab in rubbing alcohol and rubbing them off.
Scale are tiny black bugs that hide on leaves and suck out the leaf sap. Scale bugs leave behind a tell-tale sign of sticky, shiny residue known as honeydew. If caught early, scale bugs can be rubbed off the tree leaves by hand. A larger infestation will require an application of neem oil to eradicate.
Conclusion: Bonsai Olive Tree Care
Overall, bonsai olive tree care is very therapeutic. I highly recommend at least one bonsai to have at home. Indeed, bonsai is a hobby and art and it’s up to an individual artist to create a unique shape he/she wants. With a bit of care and lots of love, you will have an amazing ancient creation at your home and all your guests will be astonished by its shape and beauty.