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 vital growth and a healthy plant. And sometimes your olive tree starts to die. Nevertheless, you can revive the olive tree by establishing a regular care schedule and performing routine maintenance.
As well, you need to figure out what is causing your olive tree’s inactivity by a process of elimination. For this reason, I would like to share a step by step guide to find simple solutions on how to revive olive tree and bring it back to life.
1. Check Soil Moisture Prior Watering
First of all, try to develop a regular watering schedule. And check the moisture of the soil before watering your olive tree. The most important is to keep the soil moist but not saturated.
For instance, moisture retention varies by soil type. When considering soil requirements, the most important parameter is olive trees can typically nurture in a variety of soil types, but they don’t tolerate saturated soil. Olive trees love well-draining soil, therefore find out more on what is the best soil for potted olive trees.
So check the soil with a moisture meter daily to define how often to water the olive tree. Then, after repetitive checking set up a decent watering schedule.
2. Do Not Over-water or Under-water Olive Tree
Indeed, olive tree watering should be infrequent, but deep. However, more frequent watering may be necessary during dry weather.
So how to check the necessity of water in case you don’t have a moisture meter with you? Just dig around the trunk of your olive tree with a small shovel to determine whether the tree is getting sufficient water. If the soil is dry 15 cm (=6 inches) down, the tree needs water. On the whole, if the olive tree is over-watered or under-watered, the leaves may yellow or get dry and drop. More about overwatering signs and how to prevent your tree from too much water you can find in our article here.
As well, your olive tree’s water requirements vary depending upon 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.
3. 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.
4. Prune the Diseased Branches
Ideally, you should prune the olive tree yearly in the early spring to remove diseased branches, water sprouts, suckers, and crisscrossed branches. For successful pruning, 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.
Importantly, sanitize your pruning shears by plunging them in a mixture of 1 part bleach and 9 parts water. Leave them in the mixture for 5 minutes. Afterward, once shears have been rinsed, they’re ready to use.
To clarify the pruning process in detail, I put together 7 steps guidelines on how to prune olive trees in pots to improve the growth of trees and boost olive fruit yield.
5. Test Soil Nutrition Prior to Fertilizing
Another recommendation to revive your olive tree is related to the soil fertilization. In order to understand which nutrition is missing in the soil, you should test your soil prior to fertilizing especially if it is not springtime.
Otherwise, fertilize an olive tree starting in early spring when new growth sprouts. You can order olive tree fertilizers online or find it at local nurseries or garden centers. Always read the instructions prior to applying fertilizer on your tree. Definitely, it will vary, and the amount of fertilizer applied will depend on the ingredient concentration and the age of your tree.
Another good tip for saving your olive tree is to stop fertilizing in the fall to prevent tender new growth that will be damaged by the winter chill.
6. Pests Control
Have you noticed stippled leaves or cotton-like webbing on the leaves of your olive tree? Even more, have you spotted dead patches on leaves or discolored fruit on your beautiful tree? If yes, then, most likely, you are witnessing a pest infestation on your olive tree.
Inspect your olive tree carefully, 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.
Double-check for evidence of pests such as spider mites, and treat your tree with insecticide as necessary as 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.
If it doesn’t help, most likely, your tree suffers 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. Always treat your plants appropriately.
7. Clean Olive Tree Area from Weeds
Young olive trees are very sensitive 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).
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.
In case, 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.
8. Protect Olive Tree from Cold and Freeze
In general, if you don’t live in the Mediterranean climate, make sure you protect your olive tree from frost damage on cold nights or move it indoors for winter. Particularly young or dwarf olive trees!
During cold or freeze, try to keep the olive tree well-watered and covered with a blanket (and nicely decorated with Christmas-like lights ;) ). In fact, never prune frost-damaged areas until the following spring. It will only harm the tree more like open wounds.
Garden Tools You Will Need to Revive Olive Tree
Definitely, you don’t need any fancy gardening tools to have to take care of your olive tree all year round. However, if you have the following customer highly rated tools, available on Amazon, you can be sure your olive tree gets all the maintenance it needs in terms of watering, soil, and pruning.
Why are the Olive Tree Leaves Turning Yellow?
Questions about why olive tree leaves turning yellow I receive quite often. There is no strict answer, because there may be multiple reasons for that.
The most common reason is related to watering. For instance, if the olive tree is over-watered, the soil is waterlogged and aeration is subsequently deprived. As a result, the olive tree root system will deteriorate or rot and leaves will turn yellow and start dropping. This is best avoided by adjusting irrigation practices or consider mechanically improving aeration to solve the drainage issue.
Another reason for olive tree leaves turning yellow is the lack of nutrient nitrogen (you can check it with soil checker). Clearly, olive trees suffering from a nitrogen deficiency have yellow leaves and poor growth. So, nitrogen should be applied around trees regularly. Depending on the size of the plant, mature olive trees need between 0.7 and 1 kg (1.5 and 2 pounds) of nitrogen annually. Thus, apply fertilizer in December to assist fruit development, in spring to fuel new growth and, if necessary, in the summer if the tree is growing poorly.
As well, if your olive tree is in the shade or inside and does not have enough sunlight it will not photosynthesize appropriately. Because of it, the tree leaves turn into yellow.
Finally, the olive trees shed leaves like other plants. So leaves yellowing and drop is most common in the spring but can occur in small quantities throughout the year. Even so, such type of yellowing and leaf drop should not be alarming.
Why are the Olive Tree Leaves Turning Brown?
If your olive tree leaves are turning brown and staying on 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 moisture meter on a regular basis to avoid oxygen-deprived roots.
How to Bring Dead Olive Tree in Pot Back to Life?
First, thoroughly observe the tree and make sure there are no insects or diseases that might have infected your tree. For example, if an olive tree has lost or 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 as described above (check the soil, the moisture level, pests, etc). If all else fails, then trim the olive tree back 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 fairly 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 still nothing works, you should cut the tree back to almost a stump. Because it may be only one solution to keep the tree alive and bring back to life. As long as there is sap 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!
Final Thoughts on How to Revive Olive Tree
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 on a yearly basis.
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, moisture, 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 home surroundings!
BOTTOM LINE: most of the problems that befall olive 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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