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How to make this olive tree happy?


We've had an Olive tree in a pot for about 3 years and it's never been very happy. I think it was diseased when we bought it.

It's just lost 60% of it leaves having showed promising signs of new growth in early spring.
Some of the fallen leaves are covered in spots and there are bubble type growths where there has been damage or open areas of bark.

It's in large terracotta pot with plenty of stones and grit at the bottom for drainage. I did give it a copper mixture spray last year but the issue has returned. It's in a sunny but sheltered spot.

Please can you help identify what is wrong with it and if it's salvageable?
I've struggled to find useful information online to help.

Photos below to help show the issue.



  • tui34tui34 Béziers, Herault, FrancePosts: 1,964
    Hi Walleth.

    I think your olive tree has a nice shape - nice and light in the middle.

    As I am ruthless, I would prune it back, just leaving a little growth of leaves.  If you can patiently cut off the dead and spindly branches, it could help.   Looking at the 5th photo, I would lop off the top about 6 inches above the growth.  But that is my opinion.  There are lots of people on this site growing olive trees in pots in the UK who could advise.   A copper spray may help.

    They are tough little devils - they can grow for thousands of years!! 
    A good hoeing is worth two waterings.

  • floraliesfloralies Haute-Garonne SW FrancePosts: 1,789
    Hello @Walleth and welcome to the forum. I have the same issue with my olive tree but mine has been in the ground for about twelve years. I believe the problem is olive scab which is caused by a fungal disease. This year seems to be a bad year for it. I will be spraying mine with a copper spray as soon as this pesky wind dies down. I'm sure others who grow them in pots will come along and give some more advice.
    This may be of help to you:
  • Pete.8Pete.8 Billericay, EssexPosts: 8,506
    My olive tree is about the same size as yours, but in a pot about twice the size of yours.
    It is often neglected, there's a huge ant nest that's been in the pot forever and I chop bits off the top in the summer each time it touches the awning - so as Tui says they're tough.
    I started giving mine seaweed extract about once a month during the growing season a few years ago, and it is now a lot leafier, so that may be worth a try and check it's not too pot bound.
    Seaweed extract is a great plant tonic and significantly improves resistance to diseases.
    Knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit.
    Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.
  • WallethWalleth Posts: 2
    @Pete.8 @floralies @tui34

    Thank you for your replies and sharing your similar experiences! Sounds like it shouldn't write it off just yet.

    I've now given it a light pruning, removing dead, spindly branches and any that crossed. I didn't take much off the top as this is one of the only areas left with leaves. I've also given it a feed and watered it well and plan to feed monthly over summer. 

    It sounds like the pot could be relatively small, although this was the largest I could find locally and when filled is already impossible to move on our own. 

    The goal here is healthy, lush growth but no requirement for it to get any larger.

    I understand I should wait till after the growing season before using the copper spray, is that right? So Oct/Nov time?

    Any ideas of the growths on the bark, should I try and remove / rub these off?

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