How to Revive Olive Tree: The Ultimate Guide

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An olive tree grows best in well-draining and fertilized soil in a sunny location. However, growing your olive tree in an appropriate spot doesn’t guarantee vigorous growth and a healthy plant. And sometimes your olive tree starts to die.

Olive trees typically suffer from improper watering, nutrients, or climate. However, transplant shock, pests, and diseases can also affect them. Nevertheless, you can often revive the olive tree by changing your care routine and establishing regular maintenance (assuming your tree is not affected by pests or diseases).

So, while olive trees die for several reasons, can they be saved, and how can they be saved? For this reason, I would like to share steps to revive olive tree and bring it back to life.

how to revive olive tree

I. Steps to Revive Olive Tree

Follow these steps to revive your olive tree and bring it back to life.

1.    Check if Your Olive Tree is Dead or Alive in 2 Steps

Just because olive tree leaves start falling off or drying out doesn’t mean your olive tree in a pot or container is beyond saving.

First, carefully check the trunk and roots for signs of life and new growth. Your olive tree roots should be pliable and firm, and the trunk should be greenish on the inside. 

Unfortunately, it is too late if the trunk and roots are mushy and brittle. That means your olive tree is dead and can’t be saved. 

There are two steps to examine your olive tree:

checking if olive tree is still alive 1
First, check underneath the bark; it should reveal green and white
  1. Use a sharp knife to score away a bit of the bark. If it reveals green underneath, the olive tree is alive but neglected.
olive tree healthy roots 1
Secondly, check olive tree roots; they should look healthy. You can trim off them before repotting

2. Olive trees in pots can undergo a root check. Gently flip over the pot and slide the olive tree out to examine its roots. If they are white and plentiful, they are just fine.

2.     Diagnose the Problem that Kills Your Olive Tree

Your olive tree may suffer from multiple reasons which cause it to die if no action is taken, so your challenge is to find what are the key problems with olive trees in pots.

The most common issues are watering, feeding, pests, and growing conditions. And, if it has any of the below symptoms, it’s likely declining in health.

Olive Tree SymptomIssue*
Wilting / Curling LeavesUnder-watered, Heat Stress, Transplant Shock
Yellow LeavesUnder/Over-watered, Transplant Shock, Lack or Excess Nutrients, Pests
Brown LeavesUnder-watered, Heat/Frost Stress, Transplant Shock, Pests
Spotted Leaves or FruitPests or Diseases
Dropping LeavesUnder/Over-watered, Heat/Frost Stress, Transplant Shock, Lack or Excess Nutrients, Pests or Diseases
Dropping FruitUnder/Over-watered, Heat/Frost Stress, Transplant Shock, Lack or Excess Nutrients, Lack of Pollination, Pests or Diseases
*While these diagnoses are accurate in many cases, they are still generalizations. Symptoms can vary based on the tree and issue.

Consider all the possibilities: the frequency and amount of water you have given, plant food, pests, and diseases, whether the olive tree has been getting enough sunlight, or maybe it was affected by the first winter frost.

For an in-depth explanation of olive tree issues, check out my extensive article:

problems with olive tree in pots
Find out the most common problems with olive trees in pots

Once possible issues are identified, let’s continue going through the steps to revive the olive tree and bring it back to life!

3.     Prune Tree and Trim Dead or Diseased Branches

olive tree diseased branches 2 1
Trimming off dead or diseased branches improves airflow and water circulation within an olive tree and helps to prevent disease and decay.

It’s crucial to get rid of the dead or diseased branches or any other parts of the olive tree so that it can use all its energy for the bits that still have life. 

Start by removing dead leaves first, then trim dead or diseased branches. These branches detract from the tree’s appearance and can also be a source of infection for the rest of the tree. Trim one third at a time, until you see signs of green – signs of life. New branches can grow from the trimmed ones. 

Reducing the overall size of the tree can also be beneficial. Overgrown olive trees can become top-heavy, making them more susceptible to damage from wind and other environmental factors.

  • Use sharp, clean tools to prevent further damage to the tree. Cut at a 45-degree angle and avoid cutting too close to the trunk, as this can lead to further damage.
  • Don’t remove more than a third of the tree’s branches at once, as this can put too much stress on the tree. Spread the pruning out over several seasons if necessary.
cut diseased branches olive tree 1
Trim off diseased branches until you see signs of green

Tools for Trimming and Reviving Olive Tree

For successful trimming, use sanitized bypass pruners for small branches, lopping shears for branches up to 2.5 cm (1 1/2 inches) in diameter, and a fine-tooth hand saw for larger tree branches.

Last update on 2024-02-18 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Importantly, sanitize your pruning shears by plunging them in a mix of 1 part bleach and 9 parts water. Leave them in the mix for 5 minutes. Afterward, they’re ready to use once the shears have been rinsed.

Watch our video on how to prune olive trees in pots: 

Prune Diseased Branches, Water Sprouts, and Suckers Yearly

olive tree trimming
Suckers must be trimmed not to use this energy for growth and to strengthen the core trunk of an olive tree

Ideally, you should prune the olive tree yearly in the early spring to remove diseased branches, water sprouts, suckers, and crisscrossed branches.

To clarify the pruning process in detail, I put together 7 steps on how to prune olive trees in pots to improve the growth of trees and boost olive fruit yield.

pruning water sprouts of olive tree
Pruning water sprouts and suckers help core branches of olive trees become thicker and stronger

4.     Leave Chunk of Trunk Intact

cut back diseased olive branches 1
Trim back all diseased branches. Sometimes you need to cut back until a trunk to save the tree.

While trimming dead or diseased branches and parts of your olive tree, if you notice its trunk is completely dead but the roots are still alive, don’t prune the dead trunk all the way down to the roots. Leave about 2 inches (5 cm) of the trunk intact above the soil

When you revive your olive tree, new growth will sprout from the trunk. Just be patient; if you cut back the tree in summer, the new growth may come back next spring only.

cut back your olive tree to grow back
Even so, if you need to cut back a trunk, new growth will come eventually
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5.     Check Soil Moisture Before Watering

If you notice changes in olive tree leaves and signs of tree negligence, try to develop a regular watering schedule. And check the moisture of the soil before watering your olive tree with your fingers or moisture meter. The most important is to keep the soil moist but not saturated.

For instance, moisture retention varies by soil type. Olive trees can typically nurture in various soil types but don’t tolerate saturated soil. Olive trees love well-draining soil; therefore, find out more about the best soil for potted olive trees.

moisture meter for olive trees helps with watering requirements
You can quickly check soil moist with a moisture meter

For a more scientific approach, check the soil with a moisture meter daily to define how often to water the olive tree (otherwise, use your fingers). Then, after repetitive checking, set up a decent watering schedule. Learn more in our complete guide on using and reading a moisture meter for olive trees.

Last update on 2024-02-18 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

6.     Do Not Over-water or Under-water Olive Tree

Olive tree watering should be infrequent but deep. However, more frequent watering may be necessary during dry weather if you move an olive tree indoors into your house’s hottest and driest room. Until you establish a watering routine for your olive tree, let your tree dry between waterings.

So how do you check the necessity of water in case you don’t have a moisture meter? The easiest way is to stick your fingers down into the soil and check if it is thoroughly dried out. Of course, it does not give you measurements at a root level, but it is still a great way to do the first check. 

touch the soil of olive tree before watering
Touch the soil with your fingers to see if it is wet – otherwise, use a more precise moisture meter to check the moisture at the root level.

If you grow your olive tree in-ground, dig around the trunk of your olive tree with a small shovel to determine whether the tree is getting sufficient water. The tree needs water if the soil is dry 15 cm (=6 inches).

Your olive tree’s water requirements also vary depending on the size of its canopy and the weather. For example, a tree with a 1.2 m (= 4-foot) canopy requires 15 liters (=4 gallons) of water a day most of the year.  But this amount doubles, then almost triples as summer heat arrives.

olive tree watering issues 1
Watering issues are the most common for potted olive trees and, unfortunately, are noticed too late too often.

The amount and frequency of watering will vary based on the climate conditions in your area. Factors such as temperature, humidity, and rainfall can all affect how much water your olive tree needs.

Olive trees prefer a Mediterranean climate with mild, wet winters and hot, dry summers. When temperatures are high, and rainfall is scarce in the summer, water your olive tree regularly to prevent drought stress. However, you don’t want to overwater your tree, which can lead to root rot and other issues.

  • In areas with high humidity: avoid watering your olive tree in the evening or at night, as this can lead to fungal growth and other issues—instead, water in the morning when the sun is up, and temperatures are cooler.
  • In areas with high temperatures: water your olive tree more frequently to prevent drought stress. However, avoid watering during the hottest part of the day, as this can cause the water to evaporate before the tree can absorb it.

Olive Tree Watering Amount and Frequency

Age of TreeSize of TreeLocationWatering FrequencyWatering Amount
1-2 yearsSmallPottedEvery 3-4 days1-2 gallons
2-3 yearsMediumPottedEvery 4-5 days2-4 gallons
3-4 yearsLargePottedEvery 5-7 days4-6 gallons
4+ yearsSmall GroundEvery 7-10 days4-6 gallons
4+ yearsMediumGroundEvery 10-14 days6-10 gallons
4+ yearsLargeGroundEvery 14-21 days>10 gallons
Table 1. Olive tree watering amount and frequency based on the tree’s age, size, and location

NOTE: these recommendations may vary depending on factors such as weather conditions, soil type, and the tree’s overall health. It’s always recommended to monitor the soil moisture levels and adjust the watering frequency and amount as needed based on the tree’s individual needs.

In general, the size of an olive tree is determined by measuring its trunk diameter, which is the width of the trunk at approximately 4 feet (1.2 meters) above the ground.

  • A small olive tree typically has a trunk diameter of less than 2 inches or 5 centimeters and is typically less than 5 feet or 1.5 meters tall.
  • A medium olive tree typically has a trunk diameter of 2-4 inches or 5-10 centimeters and can range in height from 5-10 feet or 1.5-3 meters.
  • A large olive tree typically has a trunk diameter of over 4 inches or 10 centimeters and can be over 10 feet or 3 meters tall.

It’s important to note that the size of an olive tree can vary depending on factors such as the age of the tree, the species of the tree, and the growing conditions. These size categories are just a general guideline and may vary depending on the context and location.

Underwatering Signs

Overall, if the olive tree is underwatered, the leaves will droop, turn brown, dry around the edges, and curl up. The soil around the roots would be completely dry too.

So if your olive tree is dying because it is thirsty, the solution is clear: water it!

watering issues olive tree underwatering
Underwatered olive tree leaves droop and wilt initially, then have brown tips, and yellowing leaves turn brown.

Overwatering Sings

On the other hand, if your tree is overwatered, the leaves may turn yellow or get dry and drop. You can find more about overwatering signs and how to prevent your tree from too much water in our article here.

If you have a potted olive tree and are unsure how to water it, please watch our video about deep watering techniques and check five tips on watering requirements for olive trees in pots.

Watch our video on how to water olive trees in pots by using the deep watering method (see it attached):

7.     Amend Soil into Well-draining

If your olive tree is not doing well, here is another mandatory tree reviving test related to soil drainage.

Firstly, pour 20 liters (~5 gallons) of water over the root area of your olive tree. Then, watch to see how quickly the water drains into the soil. If the soil remains soggy or mud-covered 25 minutes after watering, you have clay or heavy loam that olive trees do not appreciate.

Consequently, amend the soil around the olive tree by working in a 12.5 – 15 cm (i.e., 5 to 6-inch) layer of organic material. Alternatively, transplant the olive tree to a location with well-draining soil. It should be noted olive trees will not thrive in heavy wet soil.

olive tree issues 1
Drooping olive branches and leaves is one of the bad drainage signs

If your olive oil is dying because of an overwatering issue, replant it to change the soil into dried soil and help the tree revive faster. Check out how to choose the best soil for olive trees that is well-draining and fresh. 

how to grow olive tree indoors
Find out 20 facts about how to grow olive trees indoors

In addition, if the soil is too acidic or lacks essential nutrients, it can affect the tree’s ability to absorb water and nutrients, followed by stunted growth and poor fruit quality. To avoid this, perform regular soil tests and amend the soil with organic matter or fertilizer.

8.     Test Soil Nutrition Before Fertilizing

Another recommendation to revive your olive tree is related to soil fertilization. To understand which nutrition is missing in the soil, you should test your soil before fertilizing, especially if it is not springtime (otherwise, it is just a guess what nutrients or minerals your olive tree lacks and requires for the best growth results).

Soil analysis involves testing the soil to determine its nutrient content, pH level, and other factors that can impact the growth and health of your olive tree. By analyzing the soil, you can identify any deficiencies or excesses in the soil’s nutrient levels and adjust your fertilization plan accordingly.

To conduct soil analysis, you can take a sample of the soil from around the base of the olive tree and send it to a soil testing lab. These labs can provide a report that includes information on the soil’s pH level, nutrient content, organic matter, and other essential factors. Or you can do it yourself by using a soil test kit.

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Based on the soil analysis results, you can specify what nutrients your olive tree needs and select the appropriate fertilizers to provide those nutrients. Additionally, the soil analysis can help you determine the proper watering schedule for your olive tree based on its water-holding capacity.

NutrientOptimal Range
pH6 – 8
Nitrogen20-50 ppm
Phosphorus20-50 ppm
Potassium200-300 ppm
Calcium1500-2000 ppm
Magnesium100-150 ppm
Table 2. Soil analysis guide for olive trees

This table provides a general guideline for an olive tree’s optimal range of nutrients in the soil. A soil analysis can help determine the specific nutrient levels in the soil and help to choose the appropriate fertilizer application.

olive tree lacking nitrogen 1
This olive tree lacks nitrogen to support green foliage, so balanced olive fertilizer would do the job.

Fertilization Specifics

Of course, it may be tempting to give your dying olive tree a nutrition boost with any fertilizer but better to choose the immediate effect balanced best fertilizer for the olive tree. Without a doubt, when the tree is struggling, any random fertilizer may damage those tender roots irrecoverably. 

Fertilize an olive tree starting in early spring when new growth sprouts. Spread the fertilizer evenly around the tree’s base, avoiding getting any on the trunk or leaves. Follow the instructions on the fertilizer package carefully, as over-fertilizing can damage the tree. After fertilizing, water the tree thoroughly to help the roots absorb the nutrients.

You can order olive tree fertilizers online or at local nurseries or garden centers. Always read the instructions before applying fertilizer to your tree. It will vary, and the amount of fertilizer used will depend on the ingredient concentration and the age of your tree.

For the long effect on soil and the olive tree itself, I recommend using organic fertilizer for olive trees regularly – they have a slow-release effect. They benefit overall soil texture and have a long-term positive impact on olive trees and other plants.

Another good tip for saving your olive tree is to stop fertilizing in the late fall to prevent tender new growth that the winter chill will damage.

9.     Move Olive Tree into the Sunniest Location

olive tree artificial lights v1 1
This olive tree looks weak and unhealthy because of not enough sunlight. Artificial lights may help to survive but will never replace a natural sunlight.

Olive trees ask for lots of sunlight! They can suck sunlight for 8 – 12 hours daily to thrive and produce many olive fruits. 

Opposite, olive trees that haven’t received enough light will have pale leaves, small fruits, and weak trunks. Their growth will be restricted. In this case, the simplest solution is to move your olive tree into the sunniest location in your house and let the sunlight sink in. 

olive tree in sunlight 1
Place your olive tree to absorb sunlight at least 6 hours per day to produce olives successfully
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10.     Pests Control

Have you noticed stippled leaves or cotton-like webbing on the leaves of your olive tree? Have you spotted dead patches on leaves or discolored fruit on your beautiful tree? If yes, you are most likely witnessing a pest infestation on your olive tree, such as spider mites, scale, aphids, etc.

Olive trees are susceptible to a variety of pests and diseases, which can cause damage to the tree and affect the quality and quantity of the fruit. To prevent and address these issues, regularly inspect your olive tree for signs of pests and diseases and take appropriate measures to control them.

scale insects are most common problems for olive trees
This is a scale insect – the most common pest on olive trees. Don’t worry; they are not harmful as long as you apply the treatment.

Scrutinize your olive tree, jotting down anything out of the ordinary that you discover. Check the olive leaves to see if any are yellow and, if so, whether any part of them remains green.

olive lace bugs 1 1
This is olive lace bug – another very common pest infestation
olive lace bugs infestation 1 1
Olive leaves have numerous yellow spots when attacked by olive lace bugs

Double-check for evidence of pests such as spider mites, and treat your tree with insecticide or neem oil as necessary to revive olive tree. Just follow the instruction written on the insecticide you have and after a couple of treatments, your olive tree will bring back to its full life cycle.

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If it doesn’t help, most likely, your tree will suffer from the symptoms of the disease. Then, gather samples and evaluate the problem by looking at olive tree problem diagnosis websites or asking for help at the garden store or a local arborist. Always treat your plants appropriately.

11.     Treat Olive Tree Diseases Immediately

olive tree disease 1
If root rot is treated on time, you can save your olive tree

Sometimes, even very well-looked olive trees are susceptible to several diseases, each with its causes, symptoms, and treatments.

If you have checked all the steps above and still suspect that your olive tree has fallen prey to some disease like powdery mildew, root rot, or others, ask a local gardening expert to help you to identify it and learn how to treat it.

For instance, some serious diseases or fungal infections are difficult to identify without proper knowledge or tests, so it is recommended to consult with a local arborist – a specialist who is very well aware of the local soil structure and most common diseases in your area, has the know-how and will apply a special treatment required to you tree. 

Another important thing to note: you should isolate the infected olive tree from your other plants so as not to spread the disease. 

olive tree leaves curling
If the situation with your olive tree is not controllable and you have checked all the steps above, finding a local expert or arborist is highly recommended – they will apply proper treatment!

12.     Clean Olive Tree Area of Weeds

Young olive trees are susceptible to weed race. For this reason, pull weeds growing in the vicinity of your young olive tree. And continue to keep the area beneath the tree’s canopy free of weeds (radius 30 to 60 cm – 1 to 2 feet – around the trunk cleared).

olive tree free of weed 1
Keep your olive trees weed-free to get all nutrition and water it needs

Thus, check for weeds regularly. By doing that, you leave a small ring of the uncovered area around the base of the trunk is important to avoid problems like crown rot. As a result, your olive tree grows healthier.

If you grow companion plants next to your olive tree with established roots, you should observe all plants and remove any weeds to stop pulling out the water and minerals from the ground.

13.     Protect Olive Tree from Cold and Freeze

In general, if you don’t live in the Mediterranean climate, protect your olive tree from frost damage on cold nights or move it indoors for winter. Particularly young or dwarf olive trees!

olive tree winter wrap up 1
Cover your olive tree fully and move it into a shelter before the freezing weather.

Extreme temperatures, high winds, and heavy rain can all affect the health and growth of your olive tree. So during cold or freeze, keep the olive tree well-watered and covered with a blanket (and nicely decorated with Christmas-like lights ;) ). Never prune frost-damaged areas until the following spring. It will only harm the tree more like open wounds.

olive tree winter cover 1
The great solution to protect olive tree roots from cold in winter (additionally, branches should be covered before freezing weather)

II. Items You May Need to Revive Olive Tree

You don’t need fancy gardening tools to care for your olive tree all year round. However, you can be sure your olive tree gets all the necessary maintenance regarding watering, fertilizing, soil quality, and pruning.

Last update on 2024-02-18 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Last update on 2024-02-18 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

olive tree leaves
Dropping olive leaves are the most common problem when you bring the tree indoors for winter – it is caused by the stress of transition and the reduction of light.

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III. Long-term Maintenance of Olive Trees

These are the influential aspects of the long-term maintenance of olive trees:

1. Regular Pruning

A well-pruned olive tree looks neater and promotes its overall health and productivity. Regular pruning ensures the tree receives adequate sunlight and air circulation, preventing pests and disease growth. Pruning also encourages the growth of new shoots and increases the yield of olives.

You should know that the timing and intensity of pruning depend on the age and condition of the tree. Young trees require lighter pruning, while mature trees need more extensive pruning. Late winter or early spring is the ideal time to prune olive trees, as they are dormant.

When pruning, remove any dead, diseased, or damaged branches, which can serve as entry points for pests and diseases. Also, remove any branches growing inward or crossing each other, as they can cause rubbing and damage.

Finally, prune back the tree’s growth by about 20%, cutting back to a leaf node facing outward from the tree. This encourages the growth of new shoots and prevents overcrowding of branches.

how to revive olive tree and bring back to life
Regular pruning and fertilization is needed to maintain olive tree long-term.

2. Regular Fertilization

In addition to pruning, regular fertilization is another important aspect of long-term maintenance for olive trees. Fertilization promotes healthy growth and fruit production and ensures trees receive the necessary nutrients to thrive.

You can choose organic or synthetic fertilizers for your olive trees. Organic options include compost, manure, and bone meal, while synthetic options include chemical fertilizers designed explicitly for olive trees.

Therefore over-fertilization can harm olive trees, so you should follow recommended application rates and frequency. A soil test can also help determine the specific nutrient needs of your olive tree and help you choose the appropriate fertilizer.

Fertilization should be done in the early spring, just before the growing season begins. This is when the tree’s nutrient requirements are highest. It’s also a good idea to fertilize again in the summer to improve olive production and in the fall, after harvest, to promote strong root growth during the winter months.

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3. Monitoring and Addressing Pests and Diseases

Maintaining the health of your olive tree requires constant vigilance against pests and diseases. These can quickly spread and cause irreversible damage to your tree, affecting its yield and overall health. The first step in addressing this issue is regularly monitoring your tree for any signs of infestation or disease.

Pests affecting olive trees include scales, mites, and aphids. These insects can suck the sap from the tree and weaken it, making it more susceptible to other pests and diseases. You can use insecticidal soaps, oils, or natural predators like ladybugs or lacewings to prevent infestations.

Diseases affecting olive trees include verticillium wilt, fungal infections, and bacterial infections. Symptoms of these diseases include wilting, yellowing leaves, and cankers on the trunk or branches. To prevent the spread of disease, remove and dispose of any infected or dead plant material and to avoid overwatering or crowding the tree.

If you suspect your olive tree is affected by pests or disease, act quickly and seek professional advice. With proper monitoring and timely action, you can prevent severe damage and keep your olive tree healthy for years.

olive trees not growing or producing new leaves
Read more about why olive trees not growing or producing leaves

IV. Frequently Asked Questions

Why are Olive Tree Leaves Changing Color & Falling Off?

There is no strict answer because there might be multiple reasons for that, and in order to continue with effective treatment or prevention, you should first identify the cause.
For example, if your olive tree leaves are turning brown and dropping off the branches, most likely, your tree is suffering from overwatering or poor drainage. Accordingly, do not water the olive tree and let it dry. Check with a moisture meter regularly to avoid oxygen-deprived roots.
Also, if your olive tree leaves are yellow and shedding, they might lack nitrogen or sunlight.
For further problematic olive tree analysis, I have specific articles that can help you to find the reason and treatment:
Olive Tree Leaves Turning Brown
Olive Tree Leaves Turning Yellow
Olive Tree Leaves Curling
Olive Tree Leaves Dropping Off
White Stuff on Olive Leaves

How to Bring Dead Potted Olive Tree Back to Life?

Can you bring a dying olive tree back to life? Of course, you can! 
First, thoroughly observe the tree and ensure there are no insects or diseases that might have infected your tree. For example, if an olive tree has lost or is losing its leaves because of bugs or a fungus, then the best effort is to treat your tree with insecticide as necessary.
Furthermore, kindly follow all the steps described above (check the soil nutrients, moisture level, watering issues, etc.). If all else fails, trim the olive tree to the first set of leaves.
Afterward, repot the olive tree. Unnecessary to use a new pot for the potted trees, but important to pull the tree up and check the root system. Thus, trim off any old, dried, or decayed roots.
Then, repot with fresh potting soil and water well. Keep in a somewhat shaded spot until you see new growth. Do not fertilize it during this time because transplanting is already hard on the olive tree. But keep it moist and not wet.
Even so, if nothing still works, you should cut the tree back to almost a stump because it may be the only solution to keep it alive and bring it back to life. As long as the sap is circulating (i.e., tree juice), your olive tree is alive and not dead. Besides, good to know the olive tree will grow back in no time!

Can any olive tree be revived, regardless of its condition?

Olive trees can be revived as long as they are not entirely dead. However, the process and success rate of reviving an olive tree will depend on the severity of the tree’s condition and the steps taken to revive it.

How often should I prune my olive tree to revive it?

For a severely declined olive tree, it is recommended to prune it back to a skeleton form, removing all dead, diseased, and damaged branches. After this initial pruning, continue regular pruning every year to encourage new growth and maintain the tree’s health.

What kind of fertilizer should I use to revive my olive tree?

The type of fertilizer for an olive tree depends on the tree’s specific needs and the soil it is growing in. It is recommended to have the soil tested to determine any nutrient deficiencies and then choose a fertilizer with the appropriate balance of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium.

How often should I water my olive tree to revive it?

The frequency and amount of watering needed for an olive tree to revive it depends on the age, size, and location of the tree. Generally, it is best to establish a regular watering schedule, watering deeply and infrequently rather than shallowly and often.


V. Final Thoughts

To summarise, if you take care of your olive tree regularly and perform routine maintenance, such a tree will nurture and bring you healthy olive fruits every year.

However, if it happens that your olive tree starts dying, try to follow all the steps above on how to revive olive tree. Firstly, check the soil quality, moisture, lack of sun and nutrients, prune it, and so on. Though, if nothing works, cut the tree back to a stump. And, you will be surprised, the olive tree will come back to decorate the home surroundings.

Most of the problems that befall these trees are not life-threatening, and you can’t do anything about those that are. Provide your olive tree with the best nurture and follow excellent tree care practices to give it the best chance at a productive life.

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36 thoughts on “How to Revive Olive Tree: The Ultimate Guide”

  1. I have read recently of a Horticulturist account of grafting a 3 year old dead branch being grafted back into a Live Olive Tree and lived IS THIS POSSIBLE ?

  2. Hi John, everything is possible :) we do not practice a grafting technique in olive tree farming, but I believe it is possible.

  3. I live in the foothills and a recent snow wind event split the smaller half of a 20 year old olive tree at the base if the trunk. We severed the split portion which had a good root still in tact and replanted it. Now it is beginning to droop and the leaves are turning brownish yellow. Should i proon off all the branches to help give the root strength, or is it a gonner? The limbs are still pliable.
    Thanks for your very informative article, but it didn’t cover this issue.

  4. Hi Beth, sorry to hear about the split of your olive tree. Your tree will recover as long it has healthy and not damaged roots. Just give a time. If limbs are still responsive, keep them and monitor it regularly. Olive trees are hardy trees more than we think – normally they recover if roots haven’t been affected. Wish your tree a speed recovery! as well you can join our Facebook group where people share their experiences with olive trees!

  5. John,
    I live in Austin Texas and have 11 Olive trees planted outdoors. The recent Freeze has caused leaves to brown and they are now slowly falling off. Base of tree looks good, I did a scratch test and it is white with just a slight bit of green which was not encouraging. Assume new growth would be my first sign of life? Any sense on how long that could take. When will I know. Any direction on action plan would be appreciated.

  6. Hi Ralph, sorry to hear about your tree. Knowing that olive trees are hardy trees, your tree should eventually recover. Put it in the sunniest place, fertilizer, and give time to come back to life. It may take from a couple of months up to a year. Wish your tree a speed recovery!

  7. Hey Vangels, outstanding post, I bought a tree last year and due to inexperience, I may have underwatered it, many (almost all) leaves fried and fell off. I cut off the dead branches, and now the tree revived, however one question caused me of researching now is that the leaves are only growing regionally, some at the tip of the new branch. Is there anything I can do to stimulate growth across the whole plants? Should I just cut of the whole branch that is growing only on the tip? Thank you in advance!

  8. Hi Jon, you can try to fertilize your tree, keep it in the sunniest place and monitor if any new growths, new twigs, buds are showing up. Patience is key in the tree recovery process. Otherwise, you can cut back the branch to stimulate new growth.

  9. I have an olive tree that my mother grew from an olive sprig. It has grown quite big and was doing well – growing in a planter indoor. This winter, there was black scab infestation, that I tried to treat with neem oil. I also tried to clean all the infestation and the it seems clean. However, the plant lost all the leaves – they basically dried up and fell. Even the small shoot with some leaves that started couple of weeks ago is gone now. It seems my plant is dying – what can I do to revive it? Is it possible to save it at all?

  10. Hi Agnes, sorry to hear about your tree. Ensure you keep it in full sunlight, fertilize it and water it when the soil is dried out. If your tree is rootbound, repot it. It takes lots of patience to recover a tree, however with a care and regular maintenance eventually it will recover!

  11. Clytie Fisher

    I have a ten year old Olive in a pot which I think the frost may have got to this year.The leaves have nearly all fallen off.I have protected as in previous years…I was thinking of planting it straight in the garden.What do you think.
    Or cut it back and replant in a larger pot?
    Kind regards

  12. Hi Clytie, first observe your olive tree and trim the dead branches if any. Leave it in full sun and water once per week or biweekly. Give time to recover. If it is pot-bound, it needs repotting or transplanting in the ground in well-draining soil.

  13. Hello, we had to transplant our olive tree due to building works, it was healthy when it was moved and about 2m tall. It was moved in October 2019 and still has sunlight all day. It has shed all it’s leaves and still has not grown any back but the main trunk is still alive. I cut the dead branches back in April but still no sign of life, should I cut the trunk down further?
    I am desperate to revive this tree so any advice you can give is gratefully received!

  14. Hi Kat, must be a shock because of transplanting. Don’t cut the trunk down as of yet, let the tree grow on its own and recover slowly (be aware it takes months or even year for an olive tree to recover and grow new buds eventually). Im not sure where you are located, just ensure your tree is irrigated, has good drainage, and full sun to grow. Wish your tree a speed recovery!

  15. Hi, we are in the UK and we have two olive trees (about 2m tall, 150mm diameter trunks) in large pots (about 1m diameter). The trees have lived fine in these pots for the last 7-8 years. This summer, both trees are in the process of losing all their leaves with no obvious signs of leaf re-generation. Our watering has been the same as previous years. There are no signs of pests or disease, just leaves on the ground. The leaves are green when they come off and are not dry or brittle. Do you have any ideas or suggestions as we do not want to lose these lovely trees ?
    Many thanks

  16. Hi Francine, try to observe your olive tree roots, are your trees pot bound? To keep potted olive trees healthy and thriving, it is good to repot (refresh the soil & nutrients, trim the roots) once in several years. Also, consider fertilizing your olive trees in case of a lack of nutrients. You can test the soil prior the feeding olive trees. Otherwise, if no change in the olive tree growing environment and maintenance, feed your olive tree and give a time to recover. Hope your olive trees will thrive again soon!

  17. Hi,
    I cut back my dried olive tree in pot to stamp. Now there are many new small branches. When and how should I shape them to get only one trunk?

  18. Hi Laila, good to hear your olive tree has new small branches. Let it grow for a year and then start shaping the tee structure you want. You can read more about it in one of my recent articles: “Shaping Olive Trees” (you can find it by typing an article name in the search box).

  19. Lillian Nichols

    My 0live trees one tall and spindly at the bottom there is no new growth only the top
    I think it’s because l have never pruned them
    They are about 10 years 0ld maybe more

  20. Hi Lillian Nichols, indeed you should prune your olive tree once per year and get rid of weak branches and focus the energy on 3 – 4 core branches. I have extensive articles about how to prune olive trees and shape olive trees – you can find them by searching on my website.

  21. salli Coppin

    Hello all
    I live in Western Australia and have transplanted a Kalimata which must be at least 15 years old. Problem is it is quite big and was moved from dusty brown soil to clay.
    I dont think drainage is great however so I have dug in gypsum to break up the clay but wondering if I should transplant it again on a mound or just wait??? dont know what to do to help it
    water or not???
    it is still green with a scratch test
    I love this tree!!

  22. Hi Salli, olives can grow in various soils, it can grow in clay soil as well, the most important to have good drainage and not soggy soil (to avoid not having enough air pockets in the soil and not letting roots breathe properly). You can add organic material such as gardening compost or manure (also leaves or straws), or conditioners like seaweed. Water when the soil is dried out, avoid soggy soil for too long. Olive trees prefer dry soil versus soggy soil.

  23. Peter Gordon

    Hi Jon, I think I’ve killed my wonderful olive. It was planted in a stone pot but in a raised bed, the pot lifted and I wanted to extract the tree from the pot and plant directly into the bed, in doing so broke one or two sizeable roots the leaves are now dropping and everything looks pretty dry, feeling rather foolish and sorry now but do you think there’s any hope?
    Many thanks, Peter.

  24. Hi Peter, even though you have damaged the main roots, there is still hope your olive tree will recover. Most probably it suffers from transition shock, as a result, it started to lose its leaves. Give your tree lots of time, water it regularly based on needs and it will thrive again.

  25. Hi. I live in the UK. I have two large potted olive trees. The pots are 1m in diameter and the trees are approx 2.4m tall and 1.4m spread. Both trees have suddenly lost all of their leaves and look like they have died. I suspect the frost may have got to them as we did not protect them but they appeared to be ok until this week when all the leaves came off. The smaller branches are dry and brittle. can you give some advice on what we can try to recover these beautiful trees. Thanks

  26. Hi Andy, poor weather is one of the most common reasons why olive trees lose their leaves. All you can do now is to ensure great care for your olive tree: fertilization, proper watering, and trimming off dead branches. It will take time for the olive tree to recover and start new buds (depending on how hard it was hit by extreme weather, it may show new growth next spring season).

  27. Hello, my olive tree is growing quite quickly and well. It looks very healthy. The only thing is that towards the bottom of the tree there are about 8 branches that shoot out but then the center stem just kept growing upward. I would love to send you a picture. I’m guess the tree is about 2-3 years old I just bought it about 6 months ago. I’m wondering if I should just let it continue growing upward or should I prune it back so it’s even when the bottom branches? I would hate to cut off all that new growth!

  28. Hello,
    Thank you for the article. I’m very worried about my potted olive tree. It’s still a young one, just about 50cm in height. It first started losing a lot of leaves about 2 months ago. They just fell off green as they were.
    I don’t think over- or underwatering was the problem, but I couldn’t tell for sure. The weather was also not an issue, lots of sunshine and heat. I repotted it and mixed the substrate according to instructions. Now, about 4 weeks later, almost all the remaining leaves have turned completely brown. At the same time, it starts growing fresh soft branches at the bottom, just above the soil.
    Do you have any idea what could be wrong with it and how I can save it? How can it seemingly die at the top but still grow new from the bottom?
    I’m scared to cut back branches as it’s still fairly small…I guess I would have to cut back a large part of the crown?
    Thank you for your help!

  29. Hello! I have recently bought an olive tree, that might be 10-15 years old – 2.40m high. I love it so much. I have planted it in a plastic pot 50cm diameter x 40cm height. First, I kept it for a month inside, with no sun. Now I placed it it in my balcony with a great sunny position. It has some leaves falling (when they are still green, not brown) – I cannot tell whether it is much or less. I have noticed that the fruit are wrinkled now. And I am really concerned that I am watering it correctly – I have watered it not everyday. I fertilized it 2 weeks ago, as per some recommendation I got. I want to repot it to a bigger pot, but I am really concerned that I am doing the right thing with my plant. Note: I live in a Mediterranean climate. Thank you so much for advising me something.

  30. Dear Dorina, thank you for such a detailed message. You did the right thing to place an olive tree in a sunny position, these trees love the sun and cant withstand living without it. No need to repot if the current pot is bigger than a root ball of the olive tree, you can check it next spring and repot if necessary. In terms of watering, olive fruits became wrinkled because of underwatering during their growth phase. Its worth watering trees in pots at leats once per week during the hot season. More about it read my article on how often water olive trees indoors. Happy growing!

  31. Dear Diana, thank you for the detailed message. There might be many reasons why your olive tree felt unwell. First of all, I recommend reading my other extensive articles on the following topics: olive tree dropping leaves and olive tree leaves turning brown – you may find relevant answers there on how to care and maintain your tree. Secondly, olive trees are very hardy trees, even if their top branches die from extreme weather conditions, pests infestation, or other reasons, they still going to grow new branches like in your case from the bottom. Don’t cut back the crown of your tree, scratch the first layer of each branch and if it is still alive, leave it, otherwise trim the dead ones.

  32. Hi
    I am in Buckinghamshire, i have 12 olive trees that all look pretty sick.
    Do you offer a service to come and assess them ?

  33. Hello Charlie,

    Thank you so much for reaching out and considering me for such a task. While I’m here to provide information and guidance to the best of my ability, I’m afraid I don’t have the capability to physically visit locations or provide in-person services.

    I highly recommend reaching out to a local arborist or a tree service in Buckinghamshire, as they would be best equipped to assess the condition of your olive trees and provide tailored advice.

    I wish you the best of luck with your olive trees, and if you have any more questions or need further advice, feel free to ask.

    Best regards, Vangelis

  34. Hello Vangelis,

    Thank you very much for the informative article; it’s the most complete one I ran across so far. However I still cannot diagnose the problem with my young olive tree (circa 20 cm). I have it for only a month and it was healthy with beautiful green foliage before it was repoted to a bigger pot. It looks as if it underwent a repoting shock and all of a sudden the leaves curled outwards and look dead. Although they don’t fall off, my plant is almost unrecognizable :( I keep it in a direct sunlight on balcony, I currently reside in Istanbul so the climate shouldn’t be a problem either, but it might be the soil, overwatering or plastic pot. Can you please advise, should I repot it again in terracotta pot with a different soil mixture or it would provoke an additional damage? I am willing to try out anything as long as it might help revive my tree. Thank you 🙏

    Kind regards,


  35. Hello Teodora,

    First and foremost, thank you for your kind words.
    Repotting shock can indeed be a concern for plants, especially for sensitive ones. When a plant is moved from its familiar setting, it may react in various ways, just as your olive tree seems to have done.
    Direct sunlight is excellent for olive trees, and Istanbul’s climate is generally suitable for them, so those shouldn’t be the primary culprits. The issue might indeed lie in the watering, the soil, or even the pot itself.
    While terracotta pots can be beneficial because they are breathable and can prevent overwatering, it’s essential to be cautious about repotting your tree again so soon. Another move might stress it further.
    Before making a decision, let’s address potential problems one by one:
    – Watering: Ensure that your tree isn’t sitting in water. Olive trees prefer deep, infrequent watering. Let the soil dry out a bit between waterings. If the soil feels wet several centimeters down, you might want to hold off on watering for a bit.
    – Soil: Olive trees like well-draining soil. If you suspect the soil is retaining too much water, that might be part of the issue. A mix of regular potting soil with some sand or perlite can improve drainage.
    – Pot: If you believe the plastic pot might be the issue, check if it has adequate drainage holes. Olive trees don’t like to sit in stagnant water.

    If, after assessing these factors, you still think the current setup is not ideal, you might consider repotting. However, do it gently, ensuring minimal root disturbance. If you opt for a terracotta pot, pre-soak it in water to prevent it from pulling moisture out of the soil too quickly.
    Lastly, patience is key. Olive trees need some time to adjust. Continue giving it your love and care, and with a little time, your olive tree may bounce back to its beautiful self.

    All the best with your olive tree, Teodora!

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