This is a guide to help you understand how to transplant and care for your olive tree.
Before you arrive
Ideally, you will want to prepare a hole for your tree before you bring it home. If your hole is not ready, you can dig it when you get home, as long as you keep the rootball moist and the top of the tree wet in a shady location, although the tree should not be out of the ground for more than a couple of days.
Olive trees prefer full sun but can grow in the shade, as well. They prefer soil with a PH of 5.5-7. Anything higher than PH 7 is not advisable. You can have your soil tested inexpensively through theUniversity of Florida IFAS office.
If you’re digging yourself
If you’re digging yourself, you will want to bring: Shovels, Pruners, blankets or tarps, ropes or straps, and a large vehicle. The vehicle you will need will depend on the size of the tree you select. It’s possible to fit a 5-6 foot tree in an SUV, but it will be tight and awkward. We recommend a truck or trailer for moving larger trees. The truck bed doesn’t have to be as large as the tree you want, as some of it can hang out, but don’t worry, we’ll help make sure your tree is balanced and secure. For a tree larger than your vehicle, we recommend ratchet straps to make sure the tree is secure for transport.
If you choose to dig out your tree yourself, plan for it to take 15-30 minutes for 1-2 people to dig out the appropriate size rootball. For a 5-6′ foot tree, two people should be able to move and load it for transport. Larger trees might require additional help to move. While a 9-12′ foot medium-sized tree can be moved by 2 people, any larger might require additional people to move the large rootball.
When digging out an established tree, you will want to have 10″ inches of rootball for every 1″ inch of trunk diameter. For example, a tree with a 3″ diameter, would dictate a 30″ rootball.
If you’re digging yourself, start digging a 2′ foot deep and 8″ inch wide trench around the appropriate size rootball. If roots extend beyond the rootball into your trench, you will want to cut those roots with the pruner while digging.
You will also want to prune the tree back approximately 1/3 before transplanting, so it vaguely resembles the size of your rootball. Once the tree is rooted in, it will quickly regrow anything that is pruned off.
Hoses will be available to water both the rootball and the top of the tree before you leave.
We will have people around to answer questions or give you more information if necessary.
When the tree is ready to be removed, we will bring a tractor to remove the tree for you and we will wrap the rootball in groundcloth to hold it together. If you are transporting your tree in an open vehicle, you will wrap the top of your tree in blankets or a tarp to prevent excessive wind damage. You will also want to secure the tree with ropes or straps.
If we’re digging the tree out for you
If we’re digging the tree out for you, we will use an excavator to isolate the appropriate size rootball, and we will prune the top of the tree for you. We will also wrap the rootball in groundcloth and load it into your vehicle for you with a tractor.
Once you get your tree home
Once you get home, here is how to care for your tree. The best case scenario would be that you already have a hold pre-dug and ready in a location that is easily accessible to your vehicle. The hole should be slightly larger than the rootball. Place tree in the hole and fill around the tree. DO NOT bury the trunk at all, but rather add a light covering of soil around the rootball with out piling dirt around the trunk.
Olive trees do not require large amounts of fertilizer. We do not recommend fertilizer for the first 4-5 weeks after transplant, except for worm castings. We will have 5 lb. bags of worm castings available for $5. Disperse the worm castings throughout the sides and bottom of the planting hole you have prepared before planting the tree. Continue to fertilize with 1/2-1 pound of worm castings once a month March-October. Do not fertilize after October because you don’t want to encourage new growth when going into winter. Studies have shown that worm castings can reduce transplant stress.
It can take up to 4-5 weeks for a transplanted tree to root in. In this period of time, keep root zone moist and water top of tree at least once per day, if not multiple times per day. This can be accomplished with timer and overhead sprinkler, or simply by spraying the foliage down with a hose. The reason for spraying the top of to prevent excessive transpiration from leaves. Top tree watering doesn’t have to be heavy, just a light coating of moisture on the leaves will do.
When can you expect fruit?
While most of our trees are flowering this year, don’t expect production the first year after transplant. With proper pruning and fertilizing, you might expect fruit in 1-2 years after transplant.
We’ll be updating this page with more details on pruning and care of Olive Trees so check back for more information.