Potted Olive Tree Struggling - Brown, crispy leaves

August 7, 2019

I'm hoping someone could help me with our olive tree. We've had it just over a year with no problems. Within the last few weeks, the leaves are turning brown and falling off. The amount of leaves I sweep up each day makes me feel it will soon lose them all. The top leaves are curling in a bit. I water it 1-2 times a week, 2 when it's in the high 80's - 90's, and depending on how the first three inches of soil feels. It's facing southwest and gets lots of sun each day. We are in Portland where our summer has been pretty warm, last week it's been in the mid 90's. We were told they are very drought tolerant and can handle the heat and lack of water, but that the potted plants will need more that the trees in the ground. Can anyone give me advice on what I could try to help it? The leaves that are green are looking really good. And there is some new growth as well. Thank you! (also, I clear out all of the dead leaves inside that pot daily and that's what I wake up to)

Comments (6)

  • PRO
    The Logician LLC

    After a year the newest roots may be at the pot's inner surface and watering may have become ineffective. Shading the pot could help long term.

  • cefandl

    Shading the pot? I'm not sure I understand. The plant itself thrives in warm sunlight.

  • gardengal48 (PNW Z8/9)

    The plant itself may thrive in warm temperatures and lots of sunlight, however a nursery container exposed to sunlight all day can heat up to a point where the potting mix actually cooks the roots. And if the roots fill the pot and grow along the outer wall as described above, just the heat transference from the container can be dangerously high.

    Slipping that container inside a larger one with a good clearance all the way around will help. Or just keeping that current pot out of direct sunlight.

    cefandl thanked gardengal48 (PNW Z8/9)
  • cefandl

    Ok, thank you so much. Do you think it's ok to remove those dead branches? Or some of it? Most of the dead leaves are the very tips of the branches. I haven't even cut an olive tree back and didn't want to mess it up.

  • dirtygardener -- Z9a, N. Central Florida

    I'd repot it with more perlite in the soil and cut back the dead branches. Also, trim off any dead roots and dust the remaining roots with cinnamon. Yes, cinnamon. It's a great anti-fungal. Don't cut the branches that are still green. Do you have somewhere in your yard where it can be shaded while it recovers?

    I have an olive tree that was given to me that had been sitting in the shade for 3 years in the same 3 gallon pot, was totally neglected, and is still alive and growing.

  • cefandl

    Yes, I'll do just that. Thank you.

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