Olea europaea is a tender evergreen that thrives in warm subtropical areas, growing to 10metres in height. It has opposite leathery, shiny, narrow dark-green leaves up to 6cm long. Small white flowers in the summer are followed by green olives which given a long enough period of warmth ripen to black. O. europaea has light-grey bark which becomes particularly gnarled with age. This is a broad-leaved species that lends itself well to areas of deadwood.
Olea sylvestris is the sought after Wild Olive and older specimens will often feature expansive deadwood and smaller leaves.
BONSAI CULTIVATION NOTES
POSITION: Full sun.
Olives are surprisingly frost-hardy to lower than -5C. However, they suffer badly if allowed to sit outside in cold, wet conditions and should be protected from excessive rain from October through to April.
FEEDING: Fortnightly from Spring to Autumn, do not feed during the Winter.
REPOTTING: Every second year at midsummer. It is important to repot during the growing season when the roots are active; do not repot in Spring when it tends to be cool and wet.
Use a free draining mix.
PRUNING: Pinch back new growth regularly
PROPAGATION: Sow seed at 13-15°C in Spring, semi-ripe cuttings in summer.
PESTS AND DISEASES: None other than scale insects.
STYLING: Suitable for all styles except broom and for all sizes.