Olea europa is a slow growing, evergreen tree and the only species in cultivation. Small, fragrant, white or cream flowers are produced during July and August, followed by fruits in September to October. The fruits are green at first, turning a brownish-black or even white when mature. Maturity may take up to a year.
POSITION: Olives are only hardy in milder UK locations, where they are ideally placed against a sunny sheltered wall. Alternatively, where there is risk of frost, they may be grown indoors, in a cool greenhouse or conservatory. Olives require plenty of sunlight.
COMPOST: Use a loam based potting compost, such as John Innes No. 3, and mix with sharp sand to aid drainage. Where grown outdoors, a deep, fertile, well-drained soil is required.
WATER: Water moderately, keeping the compost just moist during the growing season and more sparingly in winter.
FEEDING: Olives require a balanced liquid feed at monthly intervals throughout the growing season.
PRUNING: Restrictive pruning may be performed during early spring, whilst growth is dormant, in order to maintain shape and size. To maintain a healthy framework, prune back any crossing or straggling shoots.
PROBLEMS: Scale insects may cause curling of the leaves along the spine. These appear as dark waxy specks on the leaves, mainly along the spine on the underside of the leaf, but also on branches. They also produce stickiness on the leaves. The plant may be washed down with a very soapy solution taking care to gently remove all traces of pests. Compost should be covered prior to treating, so as to prevent the pest migrating back to the tree for a second attack.
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