Whether potted, grown singularly in your garden, or planted in a grove, Olive trees can make a wonderful addition to any landscape. They are versatile enough to tolerate drought and warmer climates while also being cold and hardy.
These trees have a slow growth rate and are low maintenance, making them ideal for beginner gardeners and experts alike.
Using high-quality fertilizers for olive trees will benefit them during their growing season and provide the nutrients they need to thrive and produce a bumper harvest, even if your soil is lacking.
I’ve tried several olive tree fertilizers on the market and have found a few that work best. They all gave my trees the extra push they needed to thrive. I’ll share all my findings in this article as well as explain where, how, and when you need to fertilize these ancient beauties for the best effect.
- Best Olive Tree Fertilizers
- Choosing the Best Fertilizer for Olive Trees
- Best Olive Tree Fertilizer Reviews
- How to Fertilize Olive Trees
- When to Fertilize Olive Trees
- Verdict: Best Fertilizer for Olive Tree
- FAQ’s Fertilizing Olive Trees
Best Olive Tree Fertilizers
If you’re in a hurry and want to find the best fertilizer for your olive tree, here are my top two products I recommend. Both worked well within my garden, and I was pleased with how my olive trees benefited.
Choosing the Best Fertilizer for Olive Trees
Like all trees, olive trees need specific requirements to thrive. Selecting the right product can help establish growth at planting and keep your tree healthy for years. Olive trees grow best with a balanced fertilizer. Therefore, choosing a fertilizer product that offers an even amount of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium will yield the best results.
However, the proper balance necessary for your olive tree will depend on its age, the current growth cycle, and your current soil conditions.
For example, when using fertilizer mixes on young olive trees, you should be mixing 1-ounce portions each month into the soil and watering well. Alternatively, mature, established olive trees can use a 2-pound mixture with compost at the start of the growing season.
Olive Tree Fertilizer N-P-K Ratio
N-P-K is an acronym for nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. These macronutrients are contained in all fertilizers in varying percentages depending on a plant’s specific needs. For olive trees, you’re ideally looking for a balance of all three nutrients or a close, even distribution.
Products that show 4-4-4, 16-16-16, or similar will have a balance of these three elements. The number is an indication of the percentage ratio of those nutrients.
The larger the number, the higher the nutrient concentration. For example, 4-4-4 fertilizers contain 4% each of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. 16-16-16 fertilizers contain 16% each.
Olive Soil pH and Nutrient Uptake
Neutral soil acidity sits at a pH of 7, where the higher the number is, the more alkaline the soil will be, and low measurements show a more acidic soil composition.
Although olive trees are incredibly versatile, they thrive best with a soil pH range of 6.5 to 8.5. Their highest nutrient uptake occurs between March and May, although they continue to draw from the soil until harvest in October.
Granular Vs. Liquid Fertilizer
There are some distinctions between granular and liquid olive tree fertilizers. Let’s look at the details to determine which application is the best fit for your situation.
Granular fertilizers come in pellet form that needs to be sprinkled or broadcast around the tree’s soil. These are slow-release fertilizers. They begin to distribute nutrients into the soil as soon as they get wet and continue to break down gradually over a period of weeks or months depending on the product and the nutrient uptake of the plant.
Granular fertilizers have a longer shelf life, are less expensive than liquid fertilizers, and are simple to use, making them a terrific choice for many gardeners.
Liquid fertilizers come in two separate applications, either concentrate or spray. Both kinds enter the soil almost instantly, providing nutrients to the root system much quicker compared to granules.
Liquid Concentrate or Spray
Liquid concentrate fertilizers can either be applied directly from the bottle in a ready-to-use formula or will need dilution with water – if purchased as a concentrate.
Both items work well when you need a fast-acting fertilizer often when you have an ailing olive tree or if you need to address a nutrient deficiency quickly.
The downside of liquid fertilizers is their potential for run-off that may become hazardous to nearby water sources. Since they get absorbed into soil instantly and absorbed fast, they need to be applied more often when compared to slow-release fertilizers such as granules or spikes.
Granules are small pellets of fertilizer that are spread on the ground evenly around the tree’s drip line or mixed into the soil during planting. They are easy to use, store for long periods, and are more affordable than other fertilizer options.
This slow-release option is great for trees and plants that don’t require much fertilizing because often just one application will provide enough nutrients for the entire season, if not the year.
Fertilizer spikes are an alternative to granules for a slow-acting fertilizer for olive trees. These fertilizers have been molded to form a ‘spike’. They require the user to insert them into the soil at the base of your tree or plant.
Many gardeners enjoy the mess-free and convenience of spikes – simply insert and go with no risk of runoff, smell, or residue left to clear up. Like granules, light-feeders such as olive trees may only need to receive one application of spikes throughout the year.
A word of caution, however, is because olive trees have surface roots, gardeners should take extra care when inserting these spikes into the soil to avoid the risk of damaging the root structure.
I’ve used fertilizer spikes for my olive trees and have always been happy with the result. It’s also less likely that you will accidentally over-fertilize your olive trees (which can happen with liquid and granular fertilizer).
Organic vs. Synthetic Fertilizers
Knowing the differences between organic and synthetic fertilizers can often help with the decision-making when it comes to choosing a suitable product for your olive trees.
Organic products contain animal and plant materials, while synthetic fertilizers use chemical elements to create the ideal nutrient balance.
Organic Olive Tree Fertilizers
Organic fertilizers contain natural ingredients and go through minimal processing without the addition of chemicals. They tend to be gentler on your olive tree’s root system and don’t carry the risk of ingesting harmful chemicals when used to fertilize edibles. Plus, it is more difficult to over-fertilize.
You tend to find that organic fertilizers are more expensive and carry a more ‘natural’ smell which can be attractive to pets and other wildlife.
Synthetic Olive Tree Fertilizers
Synthetic or chemical fertilizers are mass-produced and thus, are typically more cost-effective and less smelly. Consequently, the amount of nutrients in synthetic fertilizer is more precise, so if you’re concerned with perfecting the balance, synthetic fertilizers for olive trees are often preferred.
Alternatively, these chemically produced fertilizers usually don’t have the same micronutrient benefits as organic fertilizers. They may also cause damage your trees if you over-fertilize and environmental damage if allowed to run off into nearby water sources.
Best Olive Tree Fertilizer Reviews
When determining the best fertilizer for olive trees, I considered nutrient balance, ease of use, cost, and growth results. I also explored dozens of customer reviews on major platforms to find out what other users thought about these products.
The result is four of the best fertilizers for olive trees available on the market today.
Best Organic Fertilizer for Olive Trees
- Gentle formula to reduce the risk of fertilizer burn
- Contains 100% natural materials
- Slow-release and therefore ideal for Olive tree needs
- A small amount of digging is necessary for the best results
Down to Earth All-Natural Tree & Shrub Fertilizer with its gentle N-P-K ratio of 4-2-4 is my number one recommendation for fertilizing light-feeding trees, shrubs and plants such as lavender. In addition to being organic, it contains 11 species of mycorrhizal fungi.
Expect improved soil conditions, a canopy of vibrant green foliage, and better yielding harvests. In addition, the lower N-P-K nutrient distribution helps to avoid over-fertilizing the delicate surface roots of your olive trees.
Whether you are newly transplanting young trees or potted varieties or routinely fertilizing an established tree, the impressive list of all-natural ingredients and micronutrients will keep your olive trees thriving year-round.
I added this to the planting hole of a brand new, recently purchased Olive tree. The gentle N-P-K ratio meant that the roots became quickly established and I managed to avoid any risk of transplant shock while they became established in their new home.
How to Use: Before planting (or transplanting), blend 1 – 3 cups thoroughly into the back soil. If applying to a mature plant, simply dig 1-2 cups per cubic foot of soil. Fertilizer will need gently tilling into the soil before watering thoroughly.
- Great for olive trees as well as many other garden edibles
- Easy to broadcast around the dripline of olive trees
- The smell may attract animals and insects
Miracle-Gro Performance Organics Edibles brings versatility to the table when it comes to the fertilizing needs of olive trees as well as many other garden edibles. Not only can it be used as a slow-release fertilizer if sprinkled around the drip line of trees and plants, but it can also be mixed with water if a fast-acting solution is what’s required.
Even when used as a slow-release granular formula, it takes only 14 days to begin seeing noticeable results including greener foliage, a strengthened root system, and a bumper crop come harvest time.
Although not 100% organic or natural in terms of the ingredient list I found this product is one of the easiest ways to provide nutrients especially since it is not difficult to avoid fertilizing an olive crop during application.
How to Use: Measure your desired amount according to the manufacturer’s directions. Sprinkle in the surrounding soil and water thoroughly or mix with water before application.
- Certified organic by USDA
- Beneficial for new and established olive trees
- Kid and pet friendly
- Can attract bugs and animals if not applied correctly
This slow-release, organic granular fertilizer has lower nitrogen, making it perfect for use in pH-balanced soil as well as for blending with the microorganisms that break down organic matter for faster application.
The gentle nutrient content in this Fruit & Nut Granular feed on Jobe’s Organics means there is less risk of fertilizer burn plus it is versatile enough for use with newly planted as well as offering great value for money when used on mature olive trees.
What you are guaranteed when using Jobe’s Organics is their unique blend of beneficial soil microbes (Jobe’s BioZome), which, when used consistently can improve the health and quality of the soil around your trees.
How to Use: It comes in a cost-effective 4-pound, easy-to-pour bag ideal for fertilizing citrus and fruit trees as well as Olives. I used 3 cups per 1” of trunk diameter for my more established trees.
- Easy application
- Available in resealable packages
- Best fertilizer for citrus trees and fruit trees
- Needs careful insertion to avoid root damage
Another Jobe’s Organics product now and this time it is their Fertilizer Spikes. Whilst not always highly favored among olive tree growers, these spikes have made their way into my ‘best of’ list for a number of reasons.
Firstly, they have a slightly higher nitrogen ratio when compared to the granular product featured above, for that reason, they work well in the soil where nutrient deficiency is known to be an issue. Secondly, their compact and easy-to-use nature makes them great when fertilizing smaller specimens or potted varieties of the Olive trees.
These also work well when fertilizing citrus trees as well as fruit-bearing varieties and just like the granular formula, they also contain beneficial microbes and their patented BioZome formula for improved soil health.
Expect strong roots, healthy growth, and protection against pests, disease, and temperature stress if you choose this fertilizer.
How to Use: Insert these fertilizing spikes in the early spring into moist soil.
How to Fertilize Olive Trees
Some important things to remember about fertilizing olive trees are:
- Fertilize in the early spring
- Use small amounts of fertilizer at a time
- Choose a fertilizer where the N-P-K percentage ratio is similar or the same
Avoiding Olive Tree Fertilizer Burn
I’ve learned that following a few simple guidelines helps me avoid burning my olive trees.
- Keep fertilizer away from the trunk and exposed roots
- Do not over-fertilize by applying excessive amounts of fertilizer
- Avoid high ratios of N-P-K
- Always mulch first and apply fertilizer afterward
Flush out any remaining granules or spikes with water if you suspect fertilizer burn, and water your olive tree thoroughly. Continue a regular watering routine to help leech any remaining fertilizer through the soil.
Allow your olive tree time to recuperate before resuming a fertilization schedule. I recommend waiting until the following growing season to apply fertilizer again. Remember, olive trees are light-feeders and need minimal amounts of fertilizer.
When to Fertilize Olive Trees
The best time to fertilize olive trees is in early spring following their dormancy period during the winter months.
Fertilizer can be applied from the start of new sprouts appearing as this signals that their growing season is underway.
Using a balanced or closely balanced N-P-K ratio will get the growing season off to a good start by encouraging flower bud development, and foliage growth as well as ensuring a robust root system.
Depending on your climate, flowers will appear in May but will only last for one week. Then soon after, fruit development will commence.
Remember, Olive trees are not heavy feeders so there is no need to continue feeding regularly as their growing season progresses. A simple application in Spring when growing gets underway is sufficient.
Also, avoid fertilizing while your Olive tree is dormant as this could force new and unnecessary growth that may become damaged by frost in the winter months.
Fertilizing Olive Trees Pre-Fruiting
I recommend fertilizing Olive trees once dormancy has ended (February to March) and before they begin to produce fruit in June. This pre-fruiting timeframe is when Olive trees are growing most vigorously and when your tree is most active in absorbing nutrients.
How Often to Fertilize Olive Trees
If your Olive tree is thriving and planted in nutrient-rich soil then you may only need to use a slow-release fertilizer product once per growing season (during the Spring).
For ailing trees or those planted in soil that is nutrient-deficient, consider applying a liquid fertilizer in Spring. Liquids are absorbed quickly by the roots and will get to work straight away. Continue to use during the pre-fruiting period until the health of your Olive tree improves.
Once you see an improvement in your tree’s health and/or where your soil pH improves, switch to a slow-release fertilizer that will allow the roots to absorb gradually as the season progresses.
Verdict: Best Fertilizer for Olive Tree
So, there you have it, my guide to how, when, and why exactly you need to fertilize Olive trees and the best products to use having tried out a range of different Olive tree fertilizer products.
My top pick and preferred option are Down to Earth’s All-Natural Tree and Shrub Fertilizer. I love how it enriches the soil, provides my trees with the nutrients they needed to flourish, and its gentle formula means that the roots don’t get damaged by fertilizer burn.
My top pick when it comes to fertilizer granules is Miracle-Gro Performance Organics Edibles. Not only can this one be used as a slow-release feed, but it can also be added to water to offer an instant boost of nutrients to ailing trees.
FAQ’s Fertilizing Olive Trees
Here is another question regarding fertilizers for olive trees.