5 Tips On Water Requirements For Olive Trees in Pots

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The most common problems with olive trees in pots are not knowing how to properly water their tree. It is usually assumed that the tree should just be watered every day like most other plants. Unfortunately, it is not true!

So what are the water requirements for olive trees in pots? Well, the regular care and water requirements for olive trees in pots are different depending on soil type, weather conditions, and tree size. When watering potted olive trees we recommend a deep watering method. This method promotes deep root growth which is crucial for a very healthy vibrant olive tree.

As well, for olive tree growers in warm, dry climates, olive tree watering is not something they often need to think about. But in cooler or humid climates, watering can be a tricky thing. Too little water and the olive tree will die. Too much and the olive tree will die.

This leads to a generic question: “How often do I water an olive tree in a pot?”. Reading this article will give you in-depth information on the best practices and learn 5 tips on water requirements for olive trees in pots so you can enjoy your olive tree for many years to come.

1. Regular Watering Habits

Knowing when to water your potted olive tree is a key. Watering should be done as soon as the soil dries out or is only slightly damp.

Allow the soil to become dry to the touch between watering. Olive trees will not tolerate soggy soil and thrive in soil that is a little on the dry side. To establish a watering routine check the soil moisture every few days.

So how to know when to water your olive tree in a pot?

  1. USE YOUR FINGERS: once per week stick finger about 1-inch (2.5 cm) below the soil surface to check for moisture. If the fingertip is dry, slowly saturate the soil until water runs out of the bottom drain holes. If you feel moisture during the touch test, do not water the olive tree. Check again in a day or so.
  2. USE A MOISTURE METER: If you prefer a more scientific method than doing it yourself using your own senses, then use a moisture meter. I recommend getting this tool since an overwatering issue is the most common problem with olive trees in pots. As well, please find my guidelines on how to use and read a moisture meter for olive trees.
moisture meter for olive trees helps with watering requirements
Apply a more scientific approach and use a moisture meter to check the soil humidity and learn if your olive tree is thirsty

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Last update on 2023-06-08 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

How Many Times I Should Water Olive Tree In Pot?

The number of times the tree will need to be watered in a month will depend upon the air temperature, soil type and size of the potted olive tree.

Check the moisture of the soil once per week and decide if your olive tree is thirsty and needs watering.

how often to water olive trees indoors & how much
Find out how often to water olive tree indoors here

How Much I Should Water Potted Olive Tree?

Regardless of container size, tree size, or age, if being grown indoors or outdoors, always saturate the growing medium until the water runs freely out of the bottom drainage holes. Do it once a week after checking the soil moisture.

Normally, an indoor olive tree needs water at least 20% of the volume of the pot each time.

Olive Tree Pot Size How much water does it need (in Litre / Gallon)?
1 Litre / 0.26 Gallon200 ml (glass of water) / 0.05 gal
5 Litres / 1.3 Gallons1 L / 0.26 gal
10 Litres / 2.6 Gallons2 L / 0.5 gal
25 Litres  / 6.6 Gallons5 L / 1.3 gal
Table 1. Shows how much water potted olive tree indoors needs

2. Deep Watering Method

A deep watering method is the best practice while watering olive trees in pots or containers. By applying this method, give your tree a large amount of water, all the same time, and let your potted olive tree drink very thoroughly. The deep watering method promotes deep root growth which is crucial for a very healthy vibrant olive tree.

The soil in a pot needs to be thoroughly saturated with water until it is running out of the bottom drainage holes. This will eliminate any air pockets in the growing medium and ensure all tree roots have been hydrated. If the tree is not watered deeply, it will not have enough water for the week and begin drying out.

Therefore, makes sure that the drainage for the pot is excellent. If the drainage is poor, the olive tree will get too much water. Don’t forget to throw the excess water away and never let the pot sit in a pool of water.

As with most plants, olive trees will absorb water better and more efficiently if watered in the cool of the morning or evening rather than in the middle of the day.

3. Reduce Watering In Winter

For your potted olive tree placed outside, reduce the amount of water given during the winter months so the roots will not freeze and not to encourage the growth cycle. Even when the tree is grown indoors the amount of water needs to be reduced in winter.

By the way, straw, peat moss, or other decorative organic mulch can be used on top of the growing medium to help to retain moisture and increase soil warmth for olive trees outdoors.

water well your olive tree regularly
Water well your olive tree until you see water running out from the drainage holes. This way you eliminate air pockets in the soil and ensure roots have been hydrated properly

4. Water-Soluble Plant Food

Feed the potted olive tree with diluted water-soluble plant food every other week during the active growing months in spring and summer. This will keep the tree well hydrated and fed.

Depending on pot size, you may need to use plain water first until it begins to drip out of the bottom drainage holes, then use the water-soluble plant fertilizer so the nutrients will remain in the soil.

5. Well-draining Soil

Another tip to fulfill olive tree watering requirements is a well-draining soil. Preferable that the soil is slightly sandy so water will quickly drain away.

You can create a growing medium that is an even mixture of potting soil, peat compost, and fine sand. This mixture will create a fertile growing medium that allows water to drain through quickly while retaining enough moisture to keep the tree hydrated.

More in-depth about the best soil for olive trees you can find in our article here.

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Conclusion: Water Requirements For Olive Trees in Pots

It’s very important to get used to regular watering requirements for olive trees in pots. For instance, if a potted olive tree has been left dry for too long, will start losing its leaves. If your olive tree will get an excessive amount of water, meaning the drainage is poor, the leaves will yellow and begin dropping off.

touch the soil of olive tree before watering
If you don’t have a moisture meter, check soil moisture by touching it with your fingers

So if you notice your potted olive tree is losing its leaves due to over or under-watering, don’t stress out. Just resume the right watering requirements for olive trees and keep the tree evenly watered and the leaves will regrow and the tree will recover to its former beauty.

Now that you know when and how often to water an olive tree in a pot, you can enjoy your lovely olive tree without worry. For more tips on growing potted olive trees indoors, you can find them here

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13 thoughts on “5 Tips On Water Requirements For Olive Trees in Pots”

  1. Hello, thank you so much for this helpful post! I had a question about overwatering an indoor olive tree. You mention to resume regular water if the tree is under watered. However, I noticed that some of the leaves on my tree are yellow and have started to drop off. How should I fix this issue? Should I repot the tree with better drainage? Thank you your help!

  2. Hi Raman, some leaves dropping off may be due to seasonal changes. Ensure proper drainage, regular watering, lots of sunlight and your tree will thrive. Also, don’t forget to fertilize it and maintain the soil.

  3. Hello, I have a 3 year old and 7 year old Olive Tree in the ground. We do not care if we get olives, but I would really like to know how often to water each and what fertlizer to use and how often.
    I just love theses trees and want to give good care.
    Thank you, I also live in Queen Creek, Arizona………..25ish miles from Phoenix.

  4. Hi Sherri, Olive trees need most of the water when they are blooming and developing fruits (if during this period you have rain in your region, you don’t need to water at all, however, if it is drought, water it once each couple weeks). Also watering depends on the soil type, if it is sandy soil meaning it drains fast, it should be watered more often. Bear in mind, olive trees prefer to be dry than moist and humid. Dampness can create other problems such as pest infestation and bugs. Use 20-10-10 fertilizer during tree growing season, however, it’s always best to test the soil once a year prior to spring to learn the missing nutrients, otherwise, it is just guessing. Happy growing!

  5. Hello, thank you so much for this website! So glad I found it! I have some large olive trees, around 10ft tall and have just repotted them in 1meter cubed containers with well draining soil and good drainage, how would you recommend watering them? At the moment I’m giving them around 5 litres every other day. Should I be doing the deep watering method? And is a moisture meter pointless for this size container? I really want them to be happy in their new home. There has been quite a bit of falling leaves that are yellow/brown but firm. I’m hoping this is just the shock of reporting and they’ll be okay. Any advice would be so appreciated. :o) best wishes. Talie

  6. Hi Talie, definitely I would go for a deep watering method once per week or biweekly depending on your climate zone and environment. Bear in mind, olive trees prefer to be on a dry side vs moist. Its preferable to water when the soil is fully dried out. So moisture meter could help to assess the watering frequency if it is big enough for your large containers. Hope it helps

  7. Jackie Rockman

    I have a 2ft olive tree in a pot. Can I plant it outside in sandy soil on the Gulf coast of Alabama. We occasionally get freezing weather .

  8. Hi Jackie, Alabama is hardinesszone 8, meaning olive trees can grow in this area. However you should protect from long lasting freezing tempretures. Also depending on olive tree variety, some of them withstands low tempretures easier than others and no need of specific maintanance.

  9. Bonny Nilsson

    Hi! Thank you for such helpful information! Do you have any recommendations if a potted olive tree around 6ft is starting to lean/droop at the top? Have been using your watering method and it looks healthy otherwise. It has a post supporting up to about 4ft. Any help greatly appreciated!

  10. Hi Bonny, your olive tree’s drooping leaves on the top may be caused by water stress, too much or too little water is not good for the tree. For example, if the tree doesn’t get enough water, as a defense mechanism it is shedding some leaves. In case of overwatering and “drowned roots”, the olive tree faces photosynthesis problems and loses leaves.
    Another issue may be a heat stress or transplant shock.

  11. Hello
    I have an olive tree I just bought of 2 meters long – age is around 7-8 years. The pot I have is without drainage, is this a bad sign or are there any solutions for the matter?

  12. Hi Ahmad,
    The best way is to make/drill drainage holes in a pot yourself and add a layer of draining rocks at the bottom to ensure better drainage which is necessary for olive trees. If it is impossible, then add draining rocks at the bottom of the pot without drainage holes and prop the olive tree higher to prevent olive suffocation. Also, you can create draining layers inside the pot, for example first add a layer of drainage rocks, then add a layer of activated charcoal to further prevent root rot and add a layer of soil, then plant your olive tree. Whichever way you choose, you must ensure that the soil in a pot is fully dried before watering , otherwise, it will be too moist for the roots of olive tree which may cause root rot and kill a tree.

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