If you want to add a touch of Mediterranean flair to your backyard, look no further than the charming dwarf olive tree. Growing a dwarf olive tree is a relatively simple and rewarding endeavor that can provide you with an abundance of juicy olives to enjoy. This beginner’s guide will explore all the necessary steps for growing and caring for a dwarf olive tree. From selecting the suitable species to harvesting your olives, everything you need to know is right here!
Types of Dwarf Olive Trees
Dwarf olive trees are an excellent option for those looking to bring a bit of the Mediterranean into their home or garden without worrying about the tree becoming too large. Not only are they relatively low maintenance, but they also come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Several types of dwarf olive trees are available for purchase, so it’s essential to know their differences before making a purchase.
The most common type of dwarf olive tree is the standard-sized olive tree, also known as Olea europaea. This small, bushy tree can achieve a height of up to 15 feet, with a canopy spread of up to 10 feet. It’s ideal for those who want a tree that is just a little tall but can still provide plenty of shade in their garden.
The semi-dwarf olive tree is an excellent choice for those looking for a bit more height in their tree. This type of tree typically grows to a height of 20 to 25 feet, with a canopy spread of up to 15 feet. This is a good choice for those looking for an enormous tree that can provide shade but remains relatively small compared to other types of trees.
The most popular of the dwarf olive tree varieties is the arbequina olive tree. This tree is an excellent choice for those looking for a hardy and low-maintenance tree that still provides plenty of shade in their garden. It typically grows to a maximum height of 10 feet, with a canopy spread of up to 12 feet. This tree’s small size and hardiness make it an excellent choice for container gardening and small spaces.
Potting Soil and Containers
When selecting potting soil, you should choose an organic mix that is well-draining and contains plenty of plant matter and minerals. It should be free from soil-borne diseases and pests, and you should mix in plenty of compost to provide the tree with a nutrient-rich environment.
For the container, you’ll want a pot at least 10 inches deep with plenty of drainage holes. Dwarf Olive Trees don’t need a large pot and can be kept in the same one for the duration of their lives. Additionally, a pot that’s too large could cause the tree to become root-bound. Clay and ceramic are preferable over plastic because they retain moisture and provide better air circulation.
Once you have the suitable potting soil and container, you can begin planting your Dwarf Olive Tree. Fill the pot with soil and water it thoroughly. Carefully remove the tree from its container and prune away any dead or diseased branches. Place in the center of the pot, backfilling with potting soil around the tree’s base. Water it again and gently firm down the soil.
Dwarf olive trees require full, direct sunlight to thrive and will not do well in areas that receive partial or dappled light. When not receiving enough direct sunlight, the tree will likely produce few olives or none.
For best results, dwarf olive trees should be placed in an area that receives at least six to eight hours of direct sunlight daily. To ensure that the tree receives the lightest possible, avoid placing it in the shade of other trees, buildings, or structures.
If growing your tree in a container, move it around regularly to capture the maximum direct sunlight. The sun’s angle changes throughout the day, so you may want to rotate or rearrange the pot accordingly.
The tree’s environment is also essential to consider. If you live in a windy area, position the tree so it won’t be exposed to strong wind gusts. This is because these gusts can knock off budding flowers and olives, preventing pollination and reducing yield size.
Finally, it’s important to note that too much direct sunlight can harm your tree. When temperatures rise too high, it can cause the tree to become dehydrated and stressed. Nighttime temperatures should also be considered, and the tree should be protected from cold spells.
Watering and Fertilizing Requirements
When watering your dwarf olive tree, you want to evaluate the soil around the tree to determine how much and how often to water. Generally, you want to water your tree about once a week or when the top two to four inches of soil are dry. When you water your tree, ensure you water the roots, not just the top of the soil. You can water your tree until the soil is saturated, but not to the point where standing water is on top of the soil.
It’s also important to note that your dwarf olive tree may need more water in extreme heat or drought. During this time, you may have to water more than once per week. It’s essential to check the soil around the tree and water accordingly.
Fertilizing your dwarf olive tree is also necessary to provide it with the proper nutrients. A general-purpose fertilizer, such as a 10-10-10 fertilizer, is ideal for your dwarf olive tree. Fertilize your tree about once a month, from spring to fall, with the 10-10-10 fertilizer.
When fertilizing your tree, it is essential to read and follow the directions on the fertilizer label. You may also want to apply an extra bit of fertilizer during the summer, as the tree needs more nutrients during the hotter summer months.
Finally, it’s important to note that you should constantly water your tree before applying fertilizer. This will help ensure that the fertilizer is absorbed and that your tree gets the proper nutrients.
Pruning and Training Your Dwarf Olive Tree
Use sharp and clean pruning shears or another gardening tool to make neat, clean cuts. Start pruning your olive tree when it’s young as they take well to pruning, and you can shape them into whatever form you desire. When pruning your olive tree, you should focus on removing dead or dying branches and any that are overcrowding the tree. You should also remove any branches growing downward, which can make the tree become top-heavy.
When training your olive tree, you should use a stake or trellis to hold it in the desired shape. Training your tree with a stake or trellis can also help to encourage it to develop strong and deep roots. When training your tree, ensure that the stake or trellis is well secured in the ground and that you regularly check and adjust its position to ensure that your tree continues to grow in the desired direction.
Harvesting Olives From Your Dwarf Olive Tree
Harvesting olives from your dwarf olive tree is a rewarding experience and can be done once the tree is mature enough (generally 3-4 years old). While harvesting olives from a dwarf olive tree is similar to harvesting from an enormous olive tree, there are some essential factors to consider.
Firstly, it’s essential to assess the ripeness of the olives before harvesting them. If the fruit is over-ripe, it’s likely to be easier to pick, but the taste will be compromised. To judge ripeness, feel firmness on a branch and look for a green to black pattern on the skin. Fully ripe olives will usually be black, but the pattern will differ from variety to variety.
For harvesting, either shake the branches or hand-pick the olives. Generally, olives can be harvested when they’re green, but they must be cured before consumption. Green olives have a higher oleic acid content and thus have a much stronger flavor when cured.
Once you’ve wrinkled the olives, you’ll need to store them properly to enjoy their full flavor. Generally, they’ll need to be stored in a cool place in either brine or oil. It’s essential to ensure that the olives are completely submerged in the liquid to avoid spoilage. If you’re not planning on consuming the harvested olives within a month or two, freezing them is the best option.
It’s important to remember that harvesting from a dwarf olive tree is an annual activity and should be done only when the fruits reach the desired ripeness.
Growing a dwarf olive tree is not an impossible task. It is an enjoyable and rewarding experience. You can successfully grow and enjoy your olive tree with the proper knowledge and resources. Types of dwarf olive trees, potting soil, container selection, sunlight requirements, watering and fertilizing, pruning and training, and harvesting are all critical factors to consider when growing a dwarf olive tree. With careful research and preparation, you can maximize your success. A properly cared-for dwarf olive tree can often bear olives within the first year and provide great joy and satisfaction. Taking care of a dwarf olive tree can become a fun hobby, allowing you to connect with the natural world and produce something beautiful. So why wait? Get started growing a dwarf olive tree today!