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How To Collect Material For Bonsai: Air Layering Olive Tree (Olea sylvestris)

In episode 06 we are going in the mountain and we hunt & find an old wild olive tree (olea sylvestris). We do air layering in one of the branches that we would like to collect in few months for bonsai!

Olea is a genus of about 20 species in the family Oleaceae, native to warm temperate and tropical regions of southern Europe, Africa, southern Asia and Australasia. They are evergreen trees and shrubs, with small, opposite, entire leaves. The fruit is called a drupe. There are literally hundreds of cultivars of olive tree. Much like apples, trees with different fruit characteristics have been developed over hundreds of years. The species is very variable and no two tree ever seem to be quite the same.

Olea sylvestris, the wild-olive, has been considered by various botanists a valid species and a subspecies of the cultivated olive tree, Olea europea, which is a tree of multiple origins that was domesticated, it now appears, at various places during the fourth and third millennia BCE, in selections drawn from varying local populations. The wild-olive (Ancient Greek kotinos), which ancient Greeks distinguished from the cultivated olive tree, was used to fashion the olive wreath awarded victors at the ancient Olympic games. The ancient and sacred wild-olive tree of Olympia stood near the Temple of Zeus, patron of the games.

Formal upright, Informal Upright, Slanting, Cascade, Semi-cascade, Rock-over-root, Clasped-to-rock, Twin-trunk, Clump, Straight Line, Group planting, Saikei


Full sun in summer, less in winter. Requires 1000 Lux as an indoor plant. Leaves can withstand temperatures down to 43F; the roots dislike freezing temperatures, although survival at temperatures down to 25F has been reported. Considered to be hardy in zone 9. The olive can be successfully grown as an indoor plant, but it is best to keep it outdoors in the summer, and should be kept below 64F in winter. To encourage fruiting, the plant should be kept for several weeks with nightly temperatures of 35F and daily temperatures of 60F.

Water thoroughly, but keep slightly dry. Reduce watering in winter. The olive benefit from daily misting.

Every two weeks from spring to autumn. Do not fertilize for three months after repotting. Use liquid bonsai fertilizer or half-strength general purpose plant food. It can benefit from an addition of pulverized organic fertilizer in mid-spring.

Leaf and Branch Pruning:
Olive have a difficult reputation when it come to branch pruning. If pruning is carried out during spring and grown season. Resultant growth around the cut can be vigorous. The best time to prune for tree shape is during fall. In young trees prune smaller back to the last two or three whorls. Do not prune if temperature fall below 10C. Stem pruning and pinching encourages smaller leaves and shorter internodes. With older trees pinch when branch is still green or is almost violaceous eliminating last couple of leaves.

Re-potting & Growing Medium:
Repot every 2-3 years in spring, as buds sprout. Trim about 1/3 of the root ball, and remove a proportional number of the old leaves. If more drastic root pruning is needed, complete defoliation is advised. Repot in free-draining, slightly calciferous soil.

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