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Olive (lat. Olea Europea) has recently been increasingly grown in pots as a houseplant. Dwarf olive is becoming more common in cultivation indoors as it gives a touch of the Mediterranean and rustic flair to the interiors.
Olea Europea grows in the form of an evergreen shrub or tree and belongs to the family Oleaceae. It is a species that is usually grown outdoors and is cultivated as a houseplant. If it is planted in a pot or a container, it will grow smaller than olive trees planted outdoors. Namely, the size of the pot depends on how big the olive canopy will develop. Therefore, if you want to plant an olive in a slightly larger or smaller pot, count on that that the diameter of its crown will be identical to the diameter of the pot. The pot actually prevents further growth of the roots, and thus the canopy, so it will stay small forever.
In its natural outdoor environment Olea Europea can grow up to 10 m (33 ft) in height, while ornamental species (dwarf olives) will grow up to approximately 90 cm (3 ft). Its tree sprouts irregular and bumpy branches, forming an asymmetrical canopy. It has a strong and developed root, a bark that is initially smooth and gray, and later rough and dark. The leaves are oblong, leathery and evergreen, from 3 to 10 cm (1 to 4 in) long. They are silver-gray on the underside and dark green on the upper side. Its flowers are inconspicuous and small, and pollination is done by insects.
In the natural environment, it blooms during April, while when cultivated in pots it blooms during May and June. Olive flowering takes place only after two or three years. The fruit is an ovoid fleshy stone whose size varies from 1 to 3 cm (0.5 to 1 in). It is initially green in color, but the color can change to black. If you grow dwarf olives in a pot, they are unlikely to bear fruit or will be tiny and inedible.
The olive originates from Asia Minor, where it grew as a wild species. Throughout history, it has been of great importance among many Mediterranean cultures and customs. It has always been both food and medicine, shelter from the sun, and a symbol for love, peace, abundance, wisdom and health.
Planting dwarf olive trees
Dwarf olives can usually be purchased already planted in nurseries or other specialized stores. Sometimes it is quite difficult to obtain them, and are usually sold in cardboard packaging or a small container. In most cases, you will buy a plant that is several years old (2 to 3 years old) that needs to be further maintained like other houseplants.
If you bought an olive tree in a small pot, you can transplant it into a larger one if you want a larger canopy olive. The volume of its canopy depends on the size of the pot. The larger the pot, the stronger and larger the olive tree will be. It is important to place it in the right place. Windows facing south will suit her best, but as far away from any artificial heat sources as possible.
Dwarf olives grow very slowly, usually 10 to 15 cm (4 to 6 in) during one year, and their lifespan indoors is usually about 10 years.
If you want to transplant the olive tree into a larger pot, do so in early spring, after the plant has undergone a dormant period during the winter. For growing olives, quality soil is important, i.e. a good substrate that consists of a mixture of peat, sand and humus. If you are buying a pre-made substrate, a good choice is one for growing cacti. Also, place stones at the bottom of the pot to provide the proper drainage.
Dwarf olive maintenance and care
In its natural environment, the olive tree grows in difficult and often harsh conditions, so it does not require too much care. Place your dwarf olive in a place with enough sun and heat during the day. If you have the option, place it outdoors, on a balcony, terrace or window sill during spring and summer. It will like the air because as much as we want to grow it as a houseplant, it grows best in its natural environment, outdoors. Once you want to bring it indoors, be sure to do it gradually as it does not tolerate large temperature differences.
When watering, the olive must have a saucer under the pot into which excess water will flow through the openings in the pot. Olives do not tolerate excess water in the root system, so always remove excess water from the pot. Otherwise, constant humidity could cause root rot. Dwarf olives do not need frequent watering. It would be best to water it only as needed, i.e. when the substrate dries to a depth of 5 cm (2 in).
During the summer months, it will need a little more moisture and water, but even then the watering should not be overdone. Water it more often (once a week) but in small amounts. Too much water at once could damage the root of the plant. Avoid watering the olive leaves.
To maintain the desired shape and size of the olive, prune after flowering or in mid-summer. Pruning of olives is done by removing the main shoots, leaving four main branches on which the shape is maintained. After that, it is necessary to remove all old, crossed and dry branches.
The olive tree must go through a dormant period during the winter so that it can be strong and beautiful again in the spring. It would be best if they could be placed in a slightly cooler place during the winter where they would still get enough light. This could be a problem if you grow dwarf olives in an apartment without a balcony. The heat during the winter, combined with the dry air from the heating sources, will not suit the plant. It will survive, but it won’t look as nice as it would if planted outdoors. Therefore, keep it as far away from such spaces as possible, and preferably at the lowest possible temperatures.
In the coastal regions, it can withstand the winter conditions, but only if it is protected from strong winds, while in the continental area with cold winters, you will have to protect and wrap it so that it does not freeze. Although it can withstand lower temperatures -2°C (28°F), if you have the option, place it in conservatories, on stairs or corridors where the temperature does not exceed 15°C (59°F) during the winter. During dormancy, dwarf olives should be watered minimally, once every two weeks.
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