This miniature olive tree comes to you from the Sonoma Valley of California’s legendary North Coast region. The care information below will help guide you in growing your plant successfully for many years to come. Most cultural practices that are used for other evergreen bonsai are applicable for olive trees as well. We highly recommend referencing any of the published works on bonsai techniques to supplement this overview.
A protected patio or other shaded area is well suited for bonsai culture. Your plant should be exposed to morning sun only to avoid drying out too rapidly during hot periods. In areas with frost/freezing, a bright, sunny room will suffice. When grown indoors, the bonsai should be kept a minimum of 24” from windows as they will act as a magnifying glass and burn the leaves.
The small area of the pot requires regular watering to avoid drying out. Avoid allowing the plant to sit in freestanding water—olive trees are intolerant of over-watering so once the soil has absorbed all the water it can, be sure to drain any remaining water. Good drainage is as important as regular waterings. Allow enough water per plant to observe water exiting the drain hole at the bottom of the container.
The pruning of an olive bonsai is dictated by aesthetics and the practical requirements of maintaining a miniature tree. You can thin new shoots to create a more open structure, or prune the tips to encourage bushier growth.
Olives are never truly dormant although they do slow down in the winter. Olive trees can be damaged by temperatures below freezing, so protect your olive tree during freezing weather if it is in an outdoor location. Olive trees naturally lose about one third of their leaves each year, so don’t be alarmed by a little leaf fall, especially in the springtime as the new leaves emerge.
Every 2-3 years, in mid-late winter, remove 1/3 of the existing root ball; Repot using a well drained, balanced potting soil.
Use a well-balanced, soluble plant food 1/2 strength every 4 weeks during the growing season. This is important to the health of your tree as vital nutrients are flushed from the soil with each watering and need to be replenished. Watch for scale insects, often carried around and tended by ants.