If you have a gorgeous landscape set up with olive trees in pots at your front door or backyard and you would like to keep it outdoors through the winter, then you must ensure to protect your olive tree in winter.

Though, your olive trees in pots winter care can be challenging due to many winter freeze factors. But following our guidelines in this article, you will enjoy growing olive trees in pots or the ground rewarding experience.

Can Olive Trees Grow in Cold Climates?

The coldest climate areas where mature olive trees can survive are with temperatures down to 15° F (- 9°C) for a limited amount of time during winter. However, the air must be dry with a cold hit gradually. Therefore, a sustained freeze below 15° F (- 9°C) for olive trees can be fatal and should think about moving olive trees indoors.

How to Protect Potted Olive Trees in Winter Outdoors?

Firstly, your outdoor conditions need to fulfill a few mandatory requirements for you to keep potted olive trees outside:

  • The temperature cannot fall below the surviving level, i.e. 15° F (- 9°C)
  • The tree gets enough sun throughout the winter, ideally a minimum of 8 hours of sunlight per day
  • You regularly maintain and care for your olive tree in a container or pot
olive tree in winter

Regular care and maintenance is required for your potted olive tree in winter outdoors.

In order to learn how to care for olive trees in pots in winter I have brought together 5 useful tips based on my own gardener’s and farmer’s experience:

1.     Water to protect the roots from damage

Outdoor olive trees in pots regular watering help to protect the roots. Because moist soil freezes but will not harm and damage the roots. Absolutely, a healthy and strong olive tree is better prepared to deal with cold winter conditions than a dry, water-stressed plant.

2.     Feed the mature olive tree if older foliage begins to change color

If older foliage begins to lighten in a color that means your potted olive tree lacks nitrogen. For this reason, the best solution is to use a balanced olive tree fertilizer with micronutrients. However, there is no need to fertilize the olive tree as long as leaves remain bright medium-green. As well, do not feed outdoor olive trees under 2 years old during the winter months. Because young trees are more vulnerable to cold damage from foliage flushes than older specimens are.

3.     String small outdoor holiday lights throughout the olive tree’s branches

This is another good advice for your olive trees in pots winter care. absolutely, outdoor holiday lights not only give a charm to your landscape in the backyard but as well keeps your tree warm before the frost hits.

4.     Watch your olive tree for any pests or diseases

Pests such as scale or aphids may attack outdoor olive trees in pots’ foliage during the winter. The easiest way to get rid of them is to knock them off with a strong spray from the garden hose. Or you can treat the olive tree with insecticidal soap as needed. For repeat applications follow the packaging instructions and our in-depth guidelines on scale insect removal.

5.     Do not prune your potted olive tree in winter

This is a very common mistake by beginner’s gardeners. They try to clip winter-damaged vegetation and harm the tree even more due to frost affecting the cuts. To avoid it, put off intense pruning until after the last predicted frost for your area. Actually, the better is to plan pruning in early spring, just after new growth comes out. In that case, you will be able to assess frost damage to your olive tree and what needs to be pruned off more accurately.

Q&A – Olive Trees in Pots Winter Care

In addition, let’s look at are the most common questions I receive with regards to olive trees in pots winter care:

How Often Should You Water Potted Olive Trees in Winter?

For the winter season, give young olive trees about 1 inch (= 2.5 cm) of water weekly from November through February in the absence of rainfall. Bear in mind the potted olive trees must be watered more often than in-ground trees.

Supply more mature trees 1 to 2 inches (= 2.5 – 5 cm) weekly September through February if there is no rain.

However if your area constantly hit by the rainfall, skip the watering routine up until the olive tree gets dryer. You can check the soil moisture with a moisture meter which gives a good indication of when to water a potted tree.

Should You Cover Olive Tree in Winter?

If you live in an area that can be harshly hit by the frost, always wrap the trunk of your potted olive tree in several layers of cardboard to insulate it against frost. Cover the trunk from just below the main limbs and a pot together. You can secure the cardboard with duct tape. Leave the cover in place until the last frost will pass your region.

Do Olive Trees Lose Their Leaves in Winter?

No, olive trees are evergreen trees. However, you may notice olive trees dropping more leaves in winter than other seasons. Especially, after the first hard frost, the olive tree may lose a bunch of leaves that helps the process for winter protection. As well,  most leaves are dropping because the olive trees are renewing their leaves prior to a new growth season in the spring.

Things You Will Need for Winter Care

Final Thoughts on Potted Olive Tree Winter Care

In case you grow herb plants or small flowers next to your olive tree in a pot, don’t forget to look after these companion plants for your olive tree. If it is an annual plant, just cut it off until the roots and let it stay through winter dormant.

Otherwise, you should follow our guidelines above and ensure proper olive trees in pots winter care if you want to grow potted olive trees in your background or at the front door during winter. Following the steps in this article, you will save time and energy to look after your trees and won’t need to recover affected olive trees by the winter frost.

As well, if you are not ready to nurture a potted olive tree this winter, you can always adopt the Oliviada olive tree in Greece. In this way, you support local Greek family olive grove farming and in return, you receive premium quality Kalamata olive oil. Check out available packages:

Have you had success growing an olive tree outdoors in winter? Comment us your results and share your best tips with us on olive trees in pots winter care. Happy winter growing!

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