Repotting an olive bonsai

7 months ago Nebby 0

Source: Bonsai Tonight Blog.

I could have guessed that an olive I took home a few years ago had a trunk that extended below the soil. It was potted in a deep container and was far heavier than I’d expected.

I confirmed this was the case the first time I repotted the tree. There wasn’t much to do about it at the time as the tree had few roots due to poor soil. I put the tree in a deep container and let it grow for another year to give it time to develop better roots.

Here’s what the tree looked like at the end of last year.

Olive – December, 2016

The amount of new foliage suggested the roots had grown well so I decided to see what I could do to get the tree into a shallower pot.

Of course, most of the foliage emerged from beneath the soil. Here’s what it looked like after removing this growth.

After removing shoots that emerged from below the surface of the soil

After minor cutback

I removed the tree from the pot and cleared away most of the soil.

After removing the soil

From the back

In general, olives can withstand a lot of root work. But, like most other varieties, there is a limit to how much can be removed. Because the tree wasn’t very compelling with so much wood below the soil, I opted to make a few large cuts with a reciprocating saw.

Evidence of large cuts

These cuts allowed the tree to fit into a Sara Rayner pot.

After repotting

How did the tree weather the repotting? Have a look.

Eight months later – August, 2017

It’s not nearly as vigorous as it was the year before. No branches were lost, and a few leaves turned yellow, but only a handful of new branches have developed.

This tells me the tree is still working to re-establish a healthy root system. In light of this, the only work for now is to remove the yellow leaves.

After removing yellow leaves

Were the tree growing more vigorously, now would be a good time for wiring and cutback. Instead, I’ll continue to watch the water carefully and let the tree grow through the end of the growing season.

When will it be time to wire the tree? When the tree’s ready. In the meantime, I’ll keep turning it on the bench every few weeks to hone in on the future front.

Right side


Left side

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