Olive tree bonsai, with their graceful appearance and timeless elegance, make captivating additions to any home or garden: these miniature trees not only add a touch of natural beauty but also carry cultural and historical significance! Taking care of it requires some knowledge and effort, but with the right techniques, you can ensure its health and longevity. In this article, we will explore essential care guidelines to help you nurture your new garden addition.
1. Placement and Lighting
Proper placement is crucial for the well-being of your olive tree bonsai. These trees thrive in abundant sunlight, so choose a location that receives at least six hours of direct sunlight per day. Placing the tree pot near a south-facing window or outdoors in a sunny spot will provide the ideal lighting conditions. Remember to rotate it occasionally to ensure even exposure to sunlight.
2. Temperature and Humidity
Olive trees prefer moderate temperatures and can withstand both hot and cold climates. Ideally, they thrive in temperatures between 10°C and 30°C (50°F to 85°F). Protect your bonsai from extreme low temperatures and drafts, as they can stress the tree, by covering it with antifreeze cover at the range of -4°C to -9°C and placing it in a luminous room with no active house-heating bodies close to it. Maintain a moderate level of humidity by misting the foliage regularly or placing a humidity tray filled with water near the pot.
Watering is a critical aspect of olive tree bonsai care. These trees prefer slightly moist soil, but they are also drought-tolerant. Allow the top inch of the soil to dry out between waterings to prevent over-watering. By default, watering should be regular in the warm months (May to September), which means that if needed, it should be done in a daily base with a small portion of 200-300ml. While in the cold months (December to February), it can be done every once in a while on a 10-days base. When watering, ensure thorough saturation of the soil and allow excess water to drain out completely. Avoid water-logging the roots, as this can lead to root rot.
This mini tree thrives in well-draining soil that promotes healthy root growth. A suitable bonsai soil mix consists of a 8:2 ratio blend of peat (80%), and light soil mixture like pearlite, vermiculite or/and pumice (20%). It’s recommended to re-pot it every year in spring to refresh the soil and maintain optimal conditions for root development.
You can either use the same pot or a slightly bigger one. If you put it in the same size pot, you just need to cut the roots a little around the perimeter and add fresh soil in the pot, plus fertilizer. For non-bonsai, small olive tree, prefer a bigger pot with the soil blend mentioned above in 7:3 ratio.
Fertilize your bonsai during the growing season (spring to autumn) using a balanced, slow-release bonsai fertilizer. Fertilizers applied on soil at the stage of re-potting, containing a Nitrogen-Phosphorus-Potassium ratio of 20-8-10 in addition with trace elements of Boron, Magnesium and Calcium, is considered an optimal nutritional meal for the olive tree.
For non-bonsai olive trees, a second Potassium-based fertilizer (8-8-10) is suggested to be applied in May or September in a dosage of 5ml in 500ml of water. Later on, at the time frames of May to June and the one of September to October, liquid fertilization in proportions of about 5-4-6 (or just a typical bonsai specific liquid fertilizer) is optional and can be applied every 15 days in these months.
The numbers of the fertilizer types are indicative and any kind of differentiation is not really important. Liquid fertilizer’s usual dose is about 3-4 gr of fertilizer for every 500ml of water. Although, it’s safe to follow the package instructions for the correct application.
6. Pruning and Shaping
Regular pruning is essential for maintaining the shape and overall health of this plant. Prune back long shoots and branches 3-4 times per year from May to September, to promote branching and density. Use sharp bonsai shears to make clean cuts and avoid damaging the tree. Additionally, pinch back new growth regularly to maintain the desired shape. Heavy pruning for reshaping the tree’s crown should be done during the dormant season, preferably in the early spring, in March or April. If you need extra guidance, click here.
7. Pest and Disease Control
Like all plants, it can be susceptible to pests and diseases. Keep a watchful eye for common bonsai pests such as aphids, scale insects, and spider mites, especially in the spring. Inspect the leaves regularly for any signs of damage or infestation. It’s a good practice to proactively apply copper powder on the leaves (for fungus protection) up to 3 times (per month or more) in November, February, March, April.
Copper application is advisable especially before long periods of rainy weather are expected. Apply Copper also in case of black spots on the leaves. If an abnormality is detected early, you can also use organic pest control methods or insecticidal soap to eliminate the pests. Treat any diseases promptly with suitable remedies or consult a local expert for guidance.