You don’t need to live in Southern Europe or California to enjoy the leathery, gray-green leaves of an olive tree. Neither do you need to own a garden for olive trees can be grown on balconies or indoors quite easily.
Most nurseries offer potted olive trees for sale. You will need to repot the olive tree a year later as the roots will start getting crowded in the normal container. To make your olive tree comfortable I suggest you buy yourself a large terra cotta pot with a drainage hole at the bottom, fast draining potting soil and a balanced houseplant fertilizer on the same day.
For your olive tree locate a spot which is situated near a south facing sunny window. Your olive tree will require 6 hours of direct sunlight a day to thrive. The pot should not be placed near a radiator or heat vent. Also consider that if the plant is placed to close to the window this could act as a magnifying glass and “burn” the olive tree.
After you have found a pleasant spot for your olive tree you will need to transplant your tree into the pot. I suggest you position the terra cotta pot first and bring your soil and tree to the pot and work there because once the pot is filled with soil it can be very heavy to reposition.
First fill the terracotta pot half way with the potting mix.
Then moisten the potting mix.
To remove the olive tree without damage to the roots from the original container you will have to clutch the rim and then turn the pot upside down.
Tap the pot gently with the heel of your hand.
The olive tree will slide out.
Pick up the tree and loosen the sides of the root ball with your thumbs.
Position the root ball of the olive tree so that it is about 1 inch below the rim of the pot.
Then fill the pot with the rest of the soil mixture.
Firm the soil around the olive tree.
Then water thoroughly.
You will know when to water your olive tree by putting your finger into the soil mixture. If this feels dry 1 inch below the surface, then water well. In the colder seasons olive trees take a natural rest so you will need to water less in autumn and winter. But make sure the soil never dries out completely! In the winter you only need to fertilize once a month and in summer every two weeks.
You can prune the tips of the branches in spring to encourage a bushy growth on the head. Make the cuts where where a pair of leaves attaches to a stem.
Unfortunately olive trees sometimes are victimized by soft-bodied scale which is small yellowish brownish insects which attach themselves to the stems of the trees and suck sap from the plant. To eliminate the scale you will need to spray the tree with insecticidal soap. Garden centers have different types of remedies for indoor use.
Enjoy your olive tree.
Alissa Mattei is a degreed food technologist with a heart for olives. She is a sought after “olive consultant” and travels the world teaching food corporations how to recognize the quality of an olive so it can be introduced into a product range.
Alissa also is an expert on “olive oil tasting”. She owns and lives the life of her dreams together with her husband on a huge olive plantation, where together they run one of the most popular luxury guest houses in the heart of Tuscany. The guest house is simply called Casa Montecucco which in English means the house on the hill.
Visit Alissa at http://www.casamontecucco.com
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