Olive Tree Overwatering Symptoms – How to Tell & Save Overwatered Olive Tree

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Whether you are growing an olive tree in-ground or in a pot in your back yard, overwatering your olive trees can cause serious issues. Overwatering not only drenches your olive tree but the soil around it may cause other imbalances.

Olive trees cannot tell you when they had too much water. But if you can recognize the olive tree overwatering symptoms, you can correct the situation of too much water with your tree before other problems with olive trees set in.

For this reason in this article, I am going to address some common problems with olive tree watering and help you to identify olive tree overwatering symptoms. I’ll begin with the most relevant question for olive trees growers.

What are Olive Tree Overwatering Symptoms?

One of the main overwatering symptoms is dropping olive tree leaves or yellow leaves. When an olive tree gets too much water, the roots may become unable to function properly, resulting in injury to the tree.

With this in mind, let us look into each of the olive tree overwatering signs in-depth.

Olive tree base is continuously wet

The first thing you should check is the base of your olive tree. If it is continuously wet then it is an obvious sign that you’re overwatering your tree.

Olive tree leaves dropping

If olive tree leaves become fragile, crack easily, and begin falling off more than usual, this can be another indicator of too much water.

Olive tree leaves changing color

If olive tree leaves seem to stop thriving, always check their color. Because olive tree leaves turning yellow or pale green or brittle can indicate that your olive tree has had too much water.

Olive leaves strange configuration

If olive tree new growths and leaves withers or curls before fully grown or begin growing into an uncommon configuration, this can be a sign of overwatering. Silver green but breakable olive leaves is another vital indicator that your olive tree is being overwatered.

Olive tree fruits dropping

If your olive tree is already bearing olive fruits, observe olives. If it begins dropping off the tree before it has ripened, your olive tree may have been overwatered.

Important note

These olive tree symptoms may be similar to signs of disease in your olive tree.  In fact, some of these issues may also arise from underwatering!

olive tree watering issues
First thing you should check the soil prior to watering your olive tree. If the surface of the soil is moist or wet, do not water and leave it to dry

What are the Damaging Results of Overwatering Olive Tree?

Overwatering can cause many problems for your olive trees such as a reduction in oxygen levels, root rot, nitrogen deficiency, and iron chlorosis. So I would like to explain the main ones causing issues for your olive tree:

Reduction in oxygen levels

Overwatering olive trees is a crucial mistake because it limits trees to breathe and take a sufficient level of oxygen. In fact, overwatering has a similar effect to drowning a tree. Because, if you constantly soaking the soil of your olive tree, the air plots fill up with water that should normally allow for oxygen uptake by the olive tree roots.

Therefore, your olive tree will get less oxygen to require photosynthesis on the leaves and, as a result, it will be harder to thrive.

Root rot

Root rot is one of the most common results of overwatering. If olive tree roots do not get oxygen intakes for long enough, then there is a chance fungal infection will set in and stimulates root rot.

As a result, your olive tree roots won’t be able to absorb nutrients and water vital for its growth cycle. Consequently, it can take a toll on olive tree life if no preventing action is taken.

Watering less often may help if the fungal infection is mild. But in severe cases, the olive tree must be transplanted and the soil treated before replanting or repotting an olive tree.

Nitrogen deficiency

Nitrogen is one of the most important nutrients for olive trees. And olive trees may suffer from nitrogen deficiency caused by overwatering issues, compacted soil, or root rot. In the case of nitrogen deficiency, the olive tree pulls nitrogen from the old leaves to fee the new growths. As a result, the older mature leaves will turn yellow while the new growth will appear healthy.

In severe nitrogen deficiency case, the olive tree leaves will brown and fall off the tree. More about the required nutrients for olive trees you can read in our article here.

Iron chlorosis

Overwatering may cause other nutrient deficiencies. For example, the olive tree roots are not able to properly absorb iron reserves which are flushed by the water but are needed for the tree in order to remain healthy. This deficiency causes iron chlorosis.

The most obvious sign of iron chlorosis is that the olive tree’s leaves begin to yellow or pale green but the veins remain bright green. Furthermore, the olive tree leaves may fall off, and the tree looks unhealthy. It may have a negative impact on yield.

olive tree overwatering symptoms sm 2
Check if the tree is thirsty with a moisture meter by testing soil or touch the soil to feel if it is dry prior watering

How to Save Overwatered Olive Tree?

After you have observed your olive tree and spotted the overwatering signs described above, here is how to fix overwatering issues:

  • Don’t water olive tree for a few weeks and let it air-dry
  • Check drainage holes of the pot and make sure they are not blocked. Choose the right pot and if needed repot into a large pot for olive trees
  • For clay soil, add some well-draining commercial mix for better air circulation. As well, read our article about the best soil for olive trees
  • Feed with fertilizers to bring the nutritional balance in the soil for your olive tree roots next time you water your plant
  • Reach out to professionals if you still can’t figure out whether or not your olive tree has been overwatered. They may come and assess the overall situation and needs for your olive tree to remain healthy

How to Water Olive Tree Correctly?

The soil around your olive tree should be moist but well-drained. If you notice that water is accumulating on a surface, you may be watering too often. So how should you water your olive tree correctly?

When you water your olive tree, use a deep watering method. Give your tree a large amount of water, all all the same time, but letting your potted olive tree drink very thoroughly.

Another important olive tree watering fact is to let the soil in a pot dry between waterings. Then, air can get into the soil and reach the olive tree roots. As a result, the roots will dry and not rot due to moisture.

Find out my 5 tips on water requirements for olive trees and watch this video on how to water olive trees in pots.

Get a Moisture Meter as a Watering Helper

If you are a beginner olive tree grower, for the best watering habits use a moisture meter to measure the soil’s moisture levels between watering sessions as to decide if the tree is thirsty.

You can find a moisture meter at any garden store or available on Amazon online. In fact, they are very easy to use and can tell you when is not good to water your olive tree. It gives you an indication of olive tree overwatering symptoms.

Basically, all you need to do is to insert the thin post into the soil of your potted olive tree correctly, and the needle shows the moisture levels in the soil within a few seconds. Read more in our guidelines on how to use and read moisture meter for olive trees.

Last update on 2024-05-22 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Checking Soil for Olive Tree in Ground

If you not sure if you overwatering olive tree planted in the ground, dig about 6 to 8 inches (15 to 20 cm) below the surface and feel the ground in your hands. The soil should be cool and moist, but not sopping wet. If the deep soil near your olive tree is noticeably soggy, then you’re probably guilty of overwatering.

Final Thoughts on Olive Tree Overwatering Symptoms

The best advice would be always to pay attention and observe your olive trees. Usually, olive tree overwatering symptoms will leave a trace on olive tree leaves which you need to decode, respond to them, and end up with the healthiest olive tree in your neighborhood.

For example, with temperatures rising, you may be watering your olive trees more than usual. But it is important to say that while an overwatered olive tree will have fragile leaves, these leaves will be still green and healthy-looking.

To avoid overwatering problems, observe olive tree overall health, look at its leaves, and check the soil situation. Your olive tree is going to tell you what it needs the most! Happy growing!

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12 thoughts on “Olive Tree Overwatering Symptoms – How to Tell & Save Overwatered Olive Tree”

  1. Hi,my plant is overwater what should i do in pot.change the soil.or something els

  2. Hi Mujahid, if you have a chance, take your olive tree out of the pot and change the soil. In addition, check the roots and trim any dead or damaged roots. Otherwise, place it in the full-day sunlight and stop watering until the soil dries out. Use a moisture meter to enhance watering habits. Hope it helps and happy growing!

  3. Gillian Quirke

    Hi I have a very expensive large olive tree in a pot ( about 3 ft wide ) I’ve had it 3 years. I dont know whether I am over watering or under watering or whether there is some other problem . Leaves are going yellow and falling off. I’m worried about it . Can you help

  4. Hi Gillian, the quickest way to learn if it is underwatered or overwatered is to dig the soil and check if the roots look healthy. If the soil is too moist, stop watering until it is fully dry. when was the last time you fertilized the olive tree? Feed it regularly since the roots are limited in a pot and can’t get all nutrition it needs. Also, use a moisture meter to establish a watering routine depending on the season and you can test the soil in order to know what minerals your olive tree is lacking if any. Hope it helps

  5. trina Hedges

    hi, hope you can help i have a very large gnarly olive which is 104cms around widest part but has never grown any green shoots at top only bottom, can i do anything to this tree to help it or is it done

  6. Hi Trina, try to prune your olive tree and remove weak, small branches (you can check my article on shaping olive trees). This helps to redirect growing energy into few strongest branches and creates a healthy look.

  7. Hi,

    I have a small olive plant here, bought it a year ago and got plenty new shoots, not a lot bigger so decided to transplant to a bigger pot. Not sure if I’m over or under watering as leaves beginning to turn brown tipped and now some yellow. I also haven’t been happy with the soil/compost mix since I re potted the plant.(Feeling it doesn’t drain to easy) Would it be ok to maybe transplant again? I’m also afraid it could be transplant shock. Absolutely no idea what the cause is. Also new leaves seem to be irregular compared to old ones. Any help very much appreciated.

  8. Hi Leanne, I second your opinion it may be a transplant shock, normally it is after repotting. If the current soil combination keeps moist, you should transplant it again, also check if the pot has enough drainage holes. After repotting, fertilize it and water it regularly to help roots to settle down. Spring pruning helps to make it bushier.

  9. I planted 5 24” box Wilsonii in my garden and they’re all getting crunchy, curly and dropping yellow leaves. It was a large investment and I would hate to lose them. It seems as though I’m overwatering them but I’m not 100% sure.

    Thank you!

  10. Hi John, it might be a transplant shock which is very common for olive trees after placing them in a new spot. It may take a while for the olive tree to adjust to a new place and thrive. If the soil you planted olive tree is well-draining and you overwatered for a short period, it should not be a problem. Otherwise, stop watering it, make sure it is placed in the sunniest place in your garden and patiently wait tree to recover. bear in mind, olive trees are very hardy trees – even if you overwater them once, it wont damage its root and wont kill a tree.

  11. Hi! I recently received a beautiful olive tree as a tribute to my father who recently passed. Will out of town for the funeral my neighbor watered and unfortunately my husband forgot to drill a drainage hole in the new pot for the tree. When I came back , my poor tree was drowning in water . The leaves are curling some which is what tipped me off that something was wrong. I removed it from the pot and let the roots dry out for about 5-6 hours . I am really-planted and and hoping for the best . My question is .. should I hold from watering for a few days, or give it some water since I transplanted ? My poor tree has definitely had some trauma! Pleas help ! Thanks!!!

  12. Dear Barbara, I am deeply sorry to hear about your loss. You did well letting your olive tree roots drain. If you have transplanted it into fresh soil, you should still water your olive tree. Otherwise, keep it to dry fully prior to watering again and don’t worry – overwatering can cause irrevocable damage only if it happens frequently and for a long period of time.

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