Description of the plant, tips for growing indoors, recommendations for care, watering, feeding and replanting, reproduction and pest control. The olive or European olive (Olea europaea) belongs to the genus Olives (Olea), originating from the family of Olives (Oleceae), which includes about 25 more genera. The plant has been cultivated for olive oil since ancient times and it is almost impossible to meet it in the wild. The homeland of the olive is considered to be the southeastern Mediterranean, the plant is grown in all countries of this region. You can also meet the olive tree in Abkhazia and the Black Sea coast (Crimea, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Iraq, Iran and other countries with similar climatic conditions). But the country, with the first mentions of this valuable culture, is still considered to be Greece, where the plant is still actively grown and used in many spheres of life. At the beginning of the 16th century, the European olive was brought to the American continent and was mainly cultivated in Peru and Mexico.
Since the time of the primitive system, there are references to this ancient culture. Even then, mankind understood the benefits of the plant and actively used it. Today, the area on which the European olive is grown amounts to millions of hectares. According to today's estimates, most of all it is grown in Italy; olive plantations in this region surpass the classic country in which oil production is developed - Greece. Nikitinsky Botanical Garden (Crimea) can be proud of the fact that there is an olive tree on its territory, which has crossed the threshold of 2000 years.
The plant mainly has a tree-like or shrubby form of growth with a height of 1-3 meters. The bark covering the twisted trunk with many knots is colored gray. In old age, the trunk is covered with hollows. Olive branches are distinguished by numerous nodes, are of sufficient length, some varieties are distinguished by drooping shoots.
The leaf plates are leathery, they practically sit on the branches, have a simple shape of elongated lancets. They have a solid edge, the surface on top is gray-green tint, and on the back there is a silvery shade. By winter, the leaf mass does not fall off, and over the course of 2–3 years, there is a gradual resumption of numbers.
The flowering process directly depends on climatic conditions and stretches from late April to mid-summer. Flowers are small enough up to 2-4 mm in length, have a fragrant aroma. Painted in a whitish color, two stamens grow inside. The buds themselves are located in the axils of the leaf plates, the inflorescences look like racemose panicles. One inflorescence can consist of 10 to 40 flowers.
If a tree a month and a half before flowering experienced arid growing conditions and a lack of nutrients, then the number of buds will drop sharply and, as a result, yield will decrease. Then it is necessary to apply the method of cross-pollination (allogamy) - the pollen from the flower of one plant will be transferred to the stigma of the pistil of the flower of another tree. At the same time, the yield increases, since when hereditarily different cells are combined, the resulting shoots have increased properties for viability.
Wild olives (Olea europaea var. Sylvestris) and cultivated olives (Olea europaea var. Europaea) are varieties of the European olive and have the same set of chromosomes (diploid 2n = 2x = 46), that is, they have the same cells that are intended to transmit information about hereditary properties and its storage.
The fruit of the olive is a drupe, which usually differs in the shape of an elongated oval with dimensions of 0.7–4 cm and a diameter of 1–2 cm. The nose of the fruit is slightly pointed, but may be blunt. The shell surrounding the bone (pericarp) is very fleshy and contains olive oil. The color of the pulp of the berry depends on the type of plant: there are green, black or deep purple shades. The fruit is covered with a rather intense bloom in the form of wax. The stone inside the fruit is distinguished by its density and the presence of grooves along the entire surface. Ripening usually occurs 4–5 months after the flowering process. The highest productivity is achieved by a tree that has passed the milestone of 20 years. Fruiting usually occurs twice a year. European olive is a monoecious plant (flowers of only one sex bloom on one bush or tree), therefore it is recommended to plant two plants in one hole when planting.
It is customary to harvest leaf plates while the olive is in bloom. Drying takes place in the fresh air or in special rooms with good ventilation. Almost 90% of the harvested crop is used for the manufacture of olive oil, which, even without preservatives, retains its properties for a long period of time. Also olives are used in cooking. They are often pickled with or without seeds; today, a large number of nutritional masterpieces are already unthinkable without this product. The fruits of olives are very rich in various useful trace elements and compounds. The yield of oil on an absolutely dry matter fluctuates in front of 50-80%. The plant is also used in cosmetology, wood processing (yellowish-green wood, strong and heavy, easily polished). In medicine, not only oils are used, but also tinctures of leaves, which normalize blood pressure and respiration.
The branch of the olive tree is considered a symbol of peace, since the Bible mentions that it was brought by a dove as a sign that the wrath of God on humanity is verse and the worldwide flow will be stopped. The olive tree was the first to grow after this planetary cataclysm and testified to the peace between God and people. In Islamic traditions, olive is considered to be the "tree of life" and it is one of the forbidden trees in the Garden of Eden.
Recommendations for growing European olives
The plant rarely grows to a height of 2 m when grown indoors. It is often used for bonsai cultivation.
- Lighting. Oliva is simply basking in the sun's rays, so you need to choose windows that maximize the flow of light. Sills of windows of the southeast, southwest and, of course, the south exposure are suitable. If the plant was just acquired, then it must be accustomed to the sun's rays gradually. As soon as spring comes and the temperatures no longer drop for the night, then it is necessary to take the tree out into fresh air, choosing a well-lit place - a balcony, garden or terrace are suitable for this.
- Olive content temperature. Of all evergreens, the European olive is the most frost-resistant. Naturally, hot summer temperatures are not scary for her, since she herself likes to settle on the slopes under the scorching sun, but the optimal content will be at 20-25 degrees Celsius. With the arrival of autumn, the plant needs cool conditions, with sufficient illumination. The temperature in winter should not drop below 4 degrees Celsius, but it is most important to keep the indicators in the range of 10-12 degrees. There is evidence that quite mature trees endured short-term temperature drops of up to 12-18 degrees below zero.
- Formation of the crown of the tree. At home, you need to do regular pruning of the olive deciduous mass. Weak or too long branches should be shortened.But it is important to remember that a good harvest will be on the branches of last year's growth, so you should not radically cut the shoots.
- Air humidity. For olive, it is worth adhering to indicators of humidity in the air in the range of 60-70%. If it rises, then the plant will not tolerate this. Only if the temperature in the summer period has become very high, then it is worth spraying the leaf mass of the plant. For this, soft water is taken, free from impurities and salts, at room temperature.
- Watering olives. Since the root system of a tree or bush that grows in a natural environment is quite branched, this helps the plant to tolerate dry periods calmly. However, if the olive lives indoors, then it does not need to be subjected to such a test. It is necessary to moisten the soil in the pot 2-3 times a week. For this, water must be taken soft, settled, boiled or filtered with a temperature in the range of 20-23 degrees.
- Introduction of dressings for European olives. To maintain a good condition in a plant, it is necessary to fertilize the soil in a pot, choosing a mixture with a complex of minerals and fertilizing that contain a sufficient amount of nitrogen. This will help the tree with the appearance of its first buds.
- Soil selection and plant transplant. The olive requires an annual transplant with a change in the pot for a larger one. The root system of the plant is highly branched, then for the normal growth of the olive, a place is required for the roots. The transplant operation does not require any special tweaks. It is necessary to carefully remove the bush or tree from the pot, and transplant it into a new one, to such a depth that the trunk does not require additional support or fixation. In the pot, it is required to organize high-quality drains from moisture-retaining materials (small expanded clay or pebbles). And it is also necessary that holes are made in the pot for the outflow of excess moisture. As soon as the plant reaches a height of 45 cm, then the container is not changed, but only the top layer of the soil is changed. Planting pots are chosen from natural materials (for example, ceramic) of medium depth.
The soil for planting olives must be fertile, well-drained, limestone (olives grow on such soil in their natural environment). The acidity of the soil should be pH 6–7. To increase the permeability of the substrate, coarse sand or finely detailed broken brick is introduced into it. You can add pieces of charcoal to the soil. The soil mixture is also compiled independently from leafy soil, compost, river sand, take the components in a ratio of 3: 1: 1.
Reproduction of the olive tree indoors
You can get a new plant using seed material or vegetatively.
It is important to remember that when propagating with the help of seeds, parental traits can be lost, germination is only 30%. Berries are used only fresh or dried - not canned! It is necessary to take a ripe fruit, separate the bone from the pulp. Then you need to break it and get the seed. It must be soaked in an alkaline solution or in hot water for at least a day. The seed is planted in the spring and it should germinate at a temperature of at least 20 degrees. After that, they need to be rinsed and dried a little. It is necessary to plant in a moistened substrate, deepening no more than 2-3 cm. The soil is mixed from turf, garden soil and river sand in proportions of 2: 1: 0, 5. You can add a little peat soil, powdered quicklime (1 kg of soil mixture add 20-25 gr. of lime). The germination process can take up to 2 months, and the grown plant will begin to bloom after 10 years.
The propagation method using cuttings is considered the best. The branches are cut in May-June. Shoots should be semi-lignified, 10-15 cm long with a diameter of 1.75-2 cm.It is necessary to remove all leaf plates, leaving 2-4 pairs on top of the twigs. Before planting, the cutting is treated with any rooting stimulant. The substrate is prepared on the basis of coarse sand or perlite with peat soil (in proportions of 9: 1). The disembarkation is done to a depth of about 10 cm under some slope. The soil should always be moist, but not wet. For early rooting, it is necessary that the heat indicators are about 20 degrees, the bottom heating of the soil is used. If the cuttings are already lignified, then their rooting will be slower. You can wait for the formation of roots by placing the twigs in a container of water. In any case, the cuttings must be wrapped in a plastic bag or covered with a glass jar. The lighting should be good, but free from direct sunlight. It is important not to forget to ventilate the seedlings and moisten the soil. After a few months, the plants will take root and can be planted in separate pots with soil suitable for further growth, or planted in open soil in a well-lit area.
Reproduction can be carried out using parts of the stem. It is necessary to cut an olive branch up to 30 cm long with a diameter of 7.5–10 cm. This cut is placed in a container with a well-loosened water and air permeable substrate. After a while, numerous new shoots appear. In this case, the branch should be carefully divided, and the parts should be planted in separate pots.
At the base of the trunk of the olive, offspring often grow, which are allowed to grow and develop sufficiently. In this case, short branches should be removed periodically. After 2 years, the offspring are separated from the mother plant and planted in separate containers.
Problems in the cultivation of European olives
Of the pests, one can distinguish: caterpillars, scale insects, false scales, leaf rollers, olive mining moth. With a lesion, an uneven brown spot appears on the leaf plates. Leaves begin to fall off, the plant slows down and photosynthesis deteriorates. To combat them, any modern insecticide is used, but all affected leaves must be removed and burned. One of the pests of olives is the olive fly, which affects ripening fruits. There are no remedies, it is necessary to remove all affected olive berries.
There are also distinguished olive scabbard, leaf beetle (honeydew). When damaged, the leaf plates collapse, since the pests suck the juice from the buds and leaves, the young stems begin to lag far behind in development. A sticky substance appears - honeydew on the branches and leaves, and it can lead to damage by a sooty fungus, which will manifest itself as a coating of leaves and branches with a black bloom. Apply treatment with insecticides of plant origin and solutions based on pyrethrin.
Of the diseases, the olive is affected by powdery mildew - a whitish bloom appears on the fruits and leaves and this can lead to the loss of the entire crop. This plaque is a thin layer of fungal spores. To combat it, it is necessary to immediately reduce the amount of applied fertilizers containing nitrogen and adjust the soil moisture. A solution of copper sulfate is also used to treat stems and leaves (1 g of the drug is diluted in 1 liter of water). However, alternative methods can also be used:
- 30 gr. ash must be poured with a small amount of water, boiled and then add another 1 liter of water, treat the affected plant with a break of 10 days;
- spraying olive trees 2-3 times with soap and soda solution (dissolve 6 grams of laundry soap and 1 gram of soda in 2 liters of water);
- treatment with manure solution (1 part of manure is dissolved in 3 parts of water).
Olive is very resistant to diseases, but excessive moistening of the soil in the pot can be harmful, this leads to the beginning of decay of the root system. In case of such a problem, it is required to place a pot with a plant in a sunny place, stop watering and carry out a fungicide treatment.
What the European olive looks like, see this video: