Problems With Olive Trees in Pots (+ How to Avoid Them) 

problems with olive trees in pots | Plant Gardener

In this article, we’ll go over common pests and problems that olive trees in pots experience, what to look for when repotting your tree, and how to prevent these problems altogether.

We’ll also talk about what to do if you already have a problem.

If none of these apply, you can always repot your olive tree.

Just make sure to follow these guidelines to prevent pests and diseases.

Common problems with growing olive trees in pots

One of the most common problems when growing olive trees in pots is poor vigor. It may be beginning to die or display yellowing foliage.

There are ways to combat this issue by improving air circulation and pruning overcrowded branches.

You can also control moss by removing it or mulching the pot to encourage new growth. Once you’ve solved the problems affecting your olive tree, it’s time to plant a new one.

The root system of your olive tree needs adequate sunlight. Its roots can become strangled if you don’t provide them with sufficient sunlight. To avoid this, make sure to repot your plant every three to five years.

If you notice your olive tree leaves turning yellow, you might have an infestation of Olive Peacock Spot. Check out our Olive Peacock Spot article to find out how to treat this problem.

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Another common problem with olive trees is improper drainage. If you don’t give them proper drainage, they’ll be susceptible to root rot and other diseases.

Besides, a small pot will make companion plants compete with the olive tree for nutrients and may even kill it.

Larger pots, such as clay or terracotta, are best for large trees. However, the spongy nature of these containers can also cause the soil to dry out, leaving the tree unable to grow properly.

Poor light is another common problem. Olive trees need bright light. While they are not well-suited for a dark or shady environment, they do well near open windows.

Even if your pots are too small to provide them with adequate light, your olive tree can still survive indoors for nine years if it is kept under a grow light. But if you can’t provide adequate light, you can always buy grow lights to give it more light.

Poor drainage is another common problem with olive trees in pots. The soil in pots can dry out too quickly, so you should make sure to provide ample water.

Also, olive trees do not do well in extremely wet soil, so you should consider placing your pots on the south side of your house or out of direct rain.

If you do manage to do so, make sure to keep your olive tree in a pot that drains water efficiently.

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Common pests that affect olive trees

Olives are susceptible to the attack of several pests, including scale insects, which attack the leaves and stems of the tree.

Olive scales are very small, black, waxy bumps that form on the tree’s stems and leaves. They live in and around the plant’s leaves and shoots and secrete an abundant amount of honeydew.

Olive scales are extremely difficult to control as they live under the plant’s protective covering and can cause a significant reduction in the harvest.

The first pest to watch for is peacock spot, which causes an olive tree to lose more leaves and have less vitality than it should. Peacock spot is carried by rain and can be identified by small, dark spots on the leaves.

You can control peacock spot by applying a copper-based fungicide such as Vitax to the foliage.

The best time to apply the solution is when leaf buds are dormant.

A second common pest to watch for is scale insects. These insects feed on the sap of the olive tree, causing the tree to look swollen and weakened. Scales can also cause the leaves to turn yellow and leave sticky residue.

Treatments for scale insects are readily available. Be aware that you may need to reapply the solution several times during the egg-laying phase. Aside from swarms of scale insects olive trees in pots are susceptible to a number of pests.

Olive lace bug can build up in a potted tree very quickly, requiring two sprays to effectively treat the infestation.

You should use a Pyrethrum product with low mammalian toxicity. Pyrethrum products will kill the bugs but will not destroy the eggs. The olive lace bug is a common pest of olive trees, and pesticides for peacock spot are available.

Olive tree pruning should be done before buds form in the spring. The wounds should scab over before the next rain.

Pruning is okay but do not prune it too much, as this could negatively affect the harvest.

A good rule of thumb is to prune only those branches that have been fruiting since the previous year. A thinning of the tree is also okay, but you must make sure that it’s getting enough airflow.

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Repotting olive trees to get rid of problems

A good time to repot your olive tree is in late winter or early spring, when temperatures are around 40 degrees Fahrenheit at night. The plant will need a month of cold weather to adjust and thrive in its new location.

In addition, you should avoid over-fertilizing your plant because too much nitrogen can cause problems, including dehydration. If your plant’s leaves are yellow or brown, it could be due to excessive watering, over-fertilizer, or pest infestation.

If you notice that your olive tree is leaning, it is best to stake it and tie it to a sturdy object. Indoors, make sure your tree gets enough sunlight and water it at least once a week.

Remember to rotate your olive tree every time you water it, as this will encourage the foliage to grow in a denser pattern, improving balance and strength. For this purpose, you can use a cactus mix.

After repotting your olive tree, check the roots for any damage or disease. Damaged roots can signal a plant disease or pest infestation.

To make sure your tree doesn’t experience any problems, simply change the potting mix. If your tree needs more water than its current container can provide, try repotting it.

After all, it’s worth it to be prepared! And don’t forget to read the label on the container!

If your tree is infested with scale, try applying insecticidal soap to the leaves and stems. You can also use organic neem seed oil or lemony soap to spray on the irritants.

If you can’t afford insecticidal spray, you can try lemony soapy water or cotton soaked in alcohol. These products are safe for olive trees and will kill many other pests, too.

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Solutions to prevent Olive trees problems

One of the most common problems that people have when growing olive trees in pots is drainage. To prevent this problem, make sure that your olive tree’s pot has drainage holes.

If it doesn’t, drill some more. You can also fill the bottom of the pot with gravel, crushed cans, or stones to encourage faster drainage. Aside from gravel and crushed cans, you can use stones, lava rock, or Styrofoam to help with drainage.

Olive trees do not like to be overly-fertilized, so be sure that your soil is moist but not soggy. Overwatering can lead to root rot, which can cause the tree to die. Organic fertilizers are available and are more expensive than synthetic ones.

They are also more difficult to balance, so you should use them sparingly and often. Avoid fertilizing with fast-release fertilizers, as they can cause damage to the plant and Leach into groundwater.

If you do have problems with pests on your olive tree, you can apply insecticidal soap to the tree.

Depending on the climate of your region, you may also want to apply organic neem seed oil to the tree to keep it free from pests. If you can’t find any of these natural solutions, you can try applying a mix of ten parts water and one part lemon juice.

You should also try to avoid water-logging. This problem can affect the roots of the tree, making it susceptible to Verticuillum wilt and Phytophora root rot. In addition, water-logging can also cause the foliage to turn yellow and the leaves to die off.

Proper drainage is essential to prevent these problems. Make sure to keep your olive tree in a partially sunlit location for a few weeks to allow it to adjust to its new environment.

The soil in your olive tree’s pot should have a good drainage system. If it’s not well-draining, it could be subject to root rot and other diseases.

Additionally, olive trees grow best in soil that is slightly more rocky. If you don’t have a rocky soil, you can substitute perlite or small lava rocks to give your tree the ideal potting soil.

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Discover the common challenges faced when cultivating olive trees in pots. Our comprehensive guide explores potential issues such as root confinement, watering woes, and nutrient deficiencies. Gain insights into troubleshooting techniques and proactive measures to ensure your potted olive trees thrive. Unlock the secrets to successful container gardening with olives, enhancing your green space and reaping the rewards of bountiful harvests.


When you repot your olive tree, make sure that the potting mix is well-drained and does not have too much water.

When watering, be sure to let the top half of the soil dry between waterings.

Also, you should fertilize your olive tree twice a year – in spring and summer. If you plant your olive tree outside during the summer, make sure to move it to a shady spot.

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