The charm of the Olive (Olea) is in the combination of the rough and twisted wooden stems and the always silver green leaves. Because of the characteristic expression of this plant it brings immediately a southern atmosphere to our terraces or balcony, that brings you right back to that holiday on the Mediterranean sea, where the olive trees grow. During May and June the Olive tree flowers with crème coloured, scented flowers, that eventually turn to olives. These can be eaten, which makes your olive both a fruit tree as well as a decorative tree.
Choose from a large assortment of Olive trees
The most well known Olive is the Olea europaea, a European plant. There are hundreds of varieties that vary in olive production, the way they grow, the surrounding and soil type they prefer and where they produce the best harvest. As a garden plant the most common is the Olive “Lessini”, this variety is strong and has no problem with a few degrees of frost and is very hardy also when it comes to disease.
- In the Greek mythology Pallas Athene gifts her wisdom in the shape of an Olive tree to the city Athens. This is the reason you will always find an Olive tree on the Acropolis.
- An Olive branch is the symbol of peace and good luck, and was often offered to the gods in the old cultures.
- The colour of the leaves has been given his own name worldwide; Olive-Green.
Heritage The scientific name Olea comes from the Latin ‘oliva’, this again from the Greek ‘elaia’ what means olive fruit. From fossils has been discovered that the plant is on the earth for 20 - 40 million years at least. The Olive spread some 6000 years ago from Armenia to southern Europe where you can now find this tree everywhere. The olive keeps getting more beautiful and the stem more twisted and knotted the older the tree gets. He can live for a 1000 years. Olive trees are cultivated for their fruit and oil consumption for many ages.
Watch out when buying your Olive trees
- When buying your Olive tree make sure there is a good proportion between the thickness of the stem and the size of the leaf crown. The older the tree the higher the price. The thickness of the stem is the best indication of the age.
- Also the amount of branches will determine if you have a nice tree.
- The olive is available as a table top tree, a shrub, a standard tree up-to 2.5 Meter or even as a mature full size trees. Very popular are the whimsical, knobby trunks that remind us of Bonsai.
- The plant must be free of disease and plagues, watch out for cap and mealybug. These are tiny woolly lice on the young branches.
- The olive tree comes with a plant passport, otherwise it is not allowed to be imported.
- Make sure you buy your Olive tree from a reliable source that know what they are talking about. Garden centre or Florist.
Caring for your Olive tree
- The Olive tree loves a warm and sunny position.
- The compost can be lightly moist at all times, however very important is that there is very good drainage and water does not stay sitting in the pot.
- Curly leaves mean the plant is to wet.
- Especially the larger plants can handle frost up-to - 5 Celsius, with colder temperatures cover the plant with a protection sheet. Available from Garden Centre.
- If you keep your Olive in a pot or container make sure there is plenty of good drainage; broken terra cotta pieces in the bottom of the pot before adding gritty compost. This way you can move the plant into a warmer place for over wintering.
- During the growing season from March to September add a little plant food to the water. Better on the lesser side. Do not over feed!
- Pruning can be done in the early spring to stimulate the growth and keep your tree in shape. Olive trees can be pruned very drastically and will come back no problem after this.
- When placing your olive tree inside in a conservatory or garden room make sure to allow plenty of air circulation for continuous fresh air. Also avoid dry air inside.
Olive trees in the garden of Lamber de Bie (shown above) that have been outside without any protection from frost for over 6 years now in Ireland. Talk to us if you’re looking for that very special tree.