Olive trees are a beautiful addition to your summer garden and even though they can take between three and five years to bear their first fruit, it’s something of an enjoyable challenge for hobby gardeners.
However, one of the main problems for olive trees is that they are used to living in warmer, drier climates. In the UK, winter can be pretty extreme, and here, younger trees might not survive.
What’s surprising is that it isn’t so much the cold that will harm the tree (although it certainly won’t do it any favours) but more the moisture levels. In fact, what a lot of people don’t realise is that if the air is dry, these hardy trees can manage down to between -8 and -12ºc!
But of course, that’s not something you want to risk. So, if you’re going to get growing, you’ll need to know how to wrap an olive tree for winter.
Frost and moisture damage are problematic for the olive tree and wrapping the tree using fleece or bubble wrap.
What is an Olive Tree?
The olive tree was originally cultivated in Mediterranean regions and there is evidence to suggest that humans have been making use of the fruit as far back as 3000 BC!
These evergreen plants are pretty hardy, and they do need cooler temperatures during the winter. But too much of a good thing and you’ll find that frost damage becomes a problem.
During the spring, olive trees need a lot of sunlight in order to blossom and what’s great is that they can be grown both in the ground and in pots.
How To Wrap An Olive Tree For Winter UK
Wrapping an olive tree will provide the best level of protection against frost and excessive moisture. You can use something as simple as bubble wrap, but most people would agree that a plant fleece jacket (Amazon link – opens in a new tab) is the best option.
What You Need
- Measuring tape
- Plant fleece jacket
Step 1 – Measure
Before you purchase a fleece jacket for your tree, it’s important to take measurements to make sure that you buy the right size.
If you get something that is too small, then you may as well not bother at all as it won’t offer the right level of protection.
Note: Another option is to use a winter plant tent which you can simply place over the tree and zip up. When choosing this option, you will need to make sure that you open the zip from time to time which will allow air to circulate and prevent a build-up of mould.
Step 2 – Cover and Secure
Next, once you have chosen the correct sized fleece jacket, you’ll need to place this over the top of the tree and carefully roll it down, wrapping the fleece all around the tree for full coverage.
If you have grown your olive tree in the ground, you may need to use stakes to hold the fleece down. You can also use twine to tie the fleece to a post or other structure, as long as there aren’t any major gaps.
However, if the olive tree is in a container, you can use your string to secure the fleece by wrapping it around the pot and tying it tightly.
Step 3 – Mulch
For even greater protection from the elements, it is a good idea to place a layer of mulch over the soil, especially for trees that are growing in the ground.
This will stop too much water from getting through and damaging the roots and will keep things under the soil a little warmer.
How to Protect Potted Olive Tree in Winter
As well as wrapping, there are also other ways to keep your tree warm and dry during the winter season.
One of the greatest things about growing an olive tree in a container is that you have the freedom to move it around. This means that it is possible to bring your tree indoors throughout the winter if you have the space to do so. Even if you can’t bring it into the house, a greenhouse or shed will be better than leaving it outdoors.
You might also consider using bubble wrap to wrap the pot which will keep out the cold. It’s best to place the potted tree as close to a window as possible as this will allow it to share some of the heat from the house. Adding a layer of mulch is also an excellent idea in this situation.
If your tree is planted in a terracotta pot, learn how to protect that too!
If you’ve lovingly grown an olive tree over the spring and summer months, the last thing you’re going to want is for it to deteriorate over the winter. The best way to protect the tree is by learning how to wrap an olive tree for winter.
It’s as simple as wrapping it in a horticultural fleece which will keep out the cold and prevent too much moisture from getting to the tree.
Garden Doctor Tips
“Don’t expect your Olive Tree to fruit until it is at least 5 – 7 years old!”
“If you want your olive tree to fruit, it will need to get as much sun as possible!”
“In areas where the soil is heavy and clay-like, it’s important to add enough gravel so that water can drain away from the roots!”
“When winter sets in, we would recommend cutting back on how often you water the tree as overwatering will cause problems with the roots!”
Frequently Asked Questions
Are olive trees banned in UK?
No, olive trees are not banned in the UK. However, there are a number of laws and regulations that must be followed when importing or exporting plants, including olive trees. The Plant Trade Act 1971 sets out the rules for importing and exporting live plants by land, air or sea across any European state borders.
Do olive trees grow well in the UK?
Olive trees are a subtropical tree, so they’ll do best in areas that have a Mediterranean climate. That said, there are olive trees that have been cultivated in the UK for hundreds of years, so it’s definitely possible to grow them in cooler climates if you provide them with enough warmth and sunlight.
Can I leave my olive tree outside in winter UK?
Olive trees can be left outside in winter UK if they are well-protected against the cold and snow with a layer of straw or similar material on the ground around them. It’s also advisable to cover any branches so they don’t get frozen into position by wind or precipitation.