Can This Olive Tree Be Saved?

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Upon returning from a trip abroad, our editor Meredith found her olive tree in despair. Is there any way to revive her olive tree? Has this happened to you? If you have advice, please leave a comment—she's willing to try anything, no matter how extreme.
can this olive tree be saved, gardening
Pre-Vacation: Meredith's olive tree is alive and thriving.
can this olive tree be saved, gardening
Shriveled leaves about to drop.
can this olive tree be saved, gardening
Is there anything Meredith can do to bring this evergreen back to health?
  6 answers
  • Douglas Hunt Douglas Hunt on Sep 18, 2014
    She should put the pot in a bucket of water so that the pot, but not the plant, is submerged and leave it there for half an hour or so. Then remove the pot, let it drain, and put the plant where it receives bright, but not strong, light. Keep the soil moist until there are signs of new foliage, and do not fertilize before then.

    • Gardenista Gardenista on Sep 18, 2014
      @Douglas Hunt Thank you for the advice—very thorough. We will keep you updated on the progress of this poor houseplant.

  • Cecelia Cecelia on Sep 18, 2014
    Water. Take outside and use insecticidal soap, she may have spider mites. Lots of house plants get them. Don't fertilize when in this state. You may also need to repot it in fresh soil once hydrated.

    • Gardenista Gardenista on Sep 18, 2014
      @Cecelia Hi Cecelia, we've been hearing mixed reasons to fertilize or not fertilize the tree in this state. Some people say it will shock the plant and some people say it's necessary. What has been your experience?

  • Buster Evans Buster Evans on Sep 18, 2014
    This may be a bit off the wall but is it possible the cat urinated on the pot inside or on the sides... I have a male chiuahuah who marked his territory on a flower pot containing my ficus tree that Ive had for years... the urine was way too strong and by the time I noticed signs of problems the tree was about gone... I took it outside this spring and flooded it several times and let it drain out then repeat... Its coming back slowly... just a thought to consider..

    • Gardenista Gardenista on Sep 18, 2014
      @Buster Evans We hadn't considered the possibility of cat urine but it could have contributed. Meredith will look into it but it's great to hear you had a similar experience and things are looking up.

  • Cecelia Cecelia on Sep 18, 2014
    Hi, I would side on not fertilizing right away. However, a half dose of miracle grow won't hurt as it will be diluted. Especially if u think the cat may be the culprit....that ammonia would burn the roots. If you think seriously kitty was to blame, repot with fresh soil.

  • Duv310660 Duv310660 on Sep 24, 2014
    No, don't fertilize until the tree starts to recover and show growth. I think that urine would probably show signs of burning on the leaves. Question #1 - have you had the tree for more than a year? Olives are mediteranean and may drop their leaves in a cool fall naturally or as a sign of stress. Google this for info. Question #2 - see if you can ascertain if the tree was either OVERwatered or UNDERwatered. Make sure you know what the status of the soil is now by gently probing or tipping the roots/soil out of the pot. See if it looks like roots are dehydrated or rotting or for pests. I am NOT a fan of soaking a plant for extended time, especially when they are arid land plants, and particularly when you don't know what the problem is! If you see indication of insects, treat accordingly. Give reasonable waterings, and let dry out slightly. You can keep under glass (a makeshift conservatory using a bowl, plastic wrap, etc) so that it still gets light, but temp/humidity are more constant (but not steamy inside). This will help you see if insects are at fault (Google thrips just in case).

  • Cecelia Cecelia on Sep 25, 2014
    How is your tree now. What did u decide to do