Help with weak 30yr+ old olive

This olive started the first couple decades of its life in small bonsai pots. It was moved to a large decorative garden pot and was happy until a couple of years ago.

Last year, I moved it into a slightly larger pot and added some new soil - I didn’t remove more than 1/3 of the old soil.

Well, spring is here in zone 9 and most of the other olives are going crazy. This one is just limping along - very slow bud growth.

This tree has a lot of sentimental value - planted as a seedling by my grandfather and I. Any advice on how to get it back to thriving?

Ps - long term goal is to get it into a trainer for eventual bonsai.

Thank you!

To provide more context to those not familiar with olives, I expect the new growth on a healthy olive to be 4-6” at this point. I think I should repot this tree, but am very hesitant.

  • into what?
  • is this potentially a recovery from last year’s repot?
  • so many questions!

Give it a good balance of water and oxygen.
Carefully drill holes in the sides of the pot to give the roots more oxygen and be mindful of your watering.
Do not fertilize.
Definitely do not repot.
Or if you could, put it in the ground, slip pot (do not disturb the roots) into a larger than the nursery container. use sifted (no dust) pumice for aeration layer and back fill.
And good luck :+1:t2: :evergreen_tree: :metal:t2:


Nice tree… maybe just recovering from the latest slip pot…
… were the roots rootbound?
Put the tree on the the live QA. Ask Ryan.
My thought is that the sheen (root area directly under the trunk), needs attention. 30 years in a pot… with no root attention.


Hi MtBakerBonsai, I can certainly drill holes to help get the oxygen flowing. Good call.

Would slip-potting into a half wine-barrel planter work? I have an empty one as well as tons of pumice.

KurtP, There were only fine roots on the edges of the pot - so i don’t think it was rootbound.

Thanks for the idea on the live QA. I will look around on how to do that.


Half a wine barrel will be too big.
Kurt has a great point with the sheen, give that an inspection when slip potting.
I feel in the ground with a root bag will be the best call for survival

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When I repotted my olive it was slow to respond the first year. Second year all my growth was 4-6" long. They don’t like a lot of water even in a bonsai pot. Balance of water and oxygen should lean to the oxygen side. Agree with other forum comments, DO NOT repot. I would just wait and see at this point. Olives are hardy, I am betting it will bounce back.

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