The Q&A Archives: Keeping A Dwarf Olive As An Indoor Plant

Question: Most of the information I've found on your website regarding the dwarf olive describes it as a hedge that grows best in dry, warmer climates. I bought one before realizing it is usually planted as a hedge, intending to keep it in a pot indoors. (1) Will the dwarf olive survive indoors, and (2) if so, how should I care for it? Thank you.

Answer: Olea europaea 'Montra' or Little Ollie can be grown as an indoor plant and even makes a good bonsai specimen although its mature size is normally in the eight foot range. It takes pruning well which accounts for it being a good hedge (and bonsai) plant and will allow you to keep it at a manageable size indoors.

However, the difficulty lies in keeping it bright enough to be healthy indoors. It is a full sun plant outside, so you may need to use supplemental lighting for it inside -- especially in the short day winter -- unless you have a greenhouse or conservatory. Also, you will need to be careful not to overwate it during the winter when it grows slowly if at all due to the lower light levels. Keep it in a very bright location with cooler temperatures of about 60 degrees, water only lightly and do not fertilize in the off months.

In the spring, gradually acclimate it to the outdoors and then summer it outside. Do not allow it to get colder than about 45 degrees in the fall when it is time to bring it back indoors. Good luck with your olive!

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