Choosing a good and healthy olive seedling isn’t extremely hard, yet people are making mistakes and often buy some unhealthy olive seedlings that won’t grow as they should. To make it easier for you, I decided to write you these 7 tips to help you choose healthy, high-quality olive seedlings that’ll grow adequately without causing you headaches.
It won’t be a long article since I always try to be as direct as possible while staying thorough enough. These seven tips are straightforward to remember, and you may even write them down, so you always have them near you, especially when buying olive seedlings for your new olive farm.
I often had problems when I bought seedlings from various shops, and ever since, I’m checking plenty of details to make sure I’ll pick the best ones out there. Of course, there’s never a 100% guarantee that some seedlings will grow, but you should do your best to find high-quality seedlings to increase the chances of plant survival.
Today, I’m sharing everything that I have learned, and some of those tips are not for olives exclusively; you can use some of these tips when buying other types of seedlings too.
1. Declaration or Guarantee
First things first, you should always check if the nursery shop has some declaration or guarantee that the seedling is tracked for health all the time and that they can ensure you varietal purity.
If the nursery shop doesn’t have any records about the health of the seedlings and even can’t guarantee the varietal purity, I’d look for another shop. That kind of information is essential and helps you choose the right olive seedling.
So, make sure to always buy seedlings from some reputable nurseries, such as North Hills Nursery (check the shop here).
2. Health Condition of Seedlings
Whenever you’re picking olive seedlings, even if the shop says that everything’s fine, you should still check the health condition of the seedling by yourself. Check for any signs of infection, disease, or attacks by pests such as peacock eye, shield ears or olive cancer.
If anything is strange to you and doesn’t look healthy, don’t pick those seedlings. Instead, look for other ones, or even find a new shop.
3. Age of The Olive Seedling
The best seedlings are anywhere from 18-24 months old. Of course, you can buy younger seedlings too, but I’d choose the older ones unless you want to plant them inside.
Once the seedlings are older than 15 months, they’ll already have well-developed roots, which is extremely important for re-planting and future growth.
When the seedlings are old enough, they’ll be much more resistant to colds and droughts and will have less shock when transplanting, and they’ll continue to grow faster.
4. Height of The Seedling
The height of the olive seedling should be from 1 meter and above (if it’s 18-24 months old). By that time, it should already have well-developed twigs. If there are only a few long falling branches, you should avoid that.
Many nurseries force seedlings to grow as fast as possible, and they don’t give them enough time to develop the branches. These seedlings will need a much longer period to harden and adapt to the new (natural) environment.
5. The Right Size of The Container
Perennial seedlings should be transplanted in larger pots every year. Otherwise, there is an uneven root development in relation to the canopy. Both roots and the canopy should have the same growth.
Seedlings that remained in the same container for an extended time progress very slowly, they won’t have well-developed roots, and they’re usually not good seedlings to buy.
6. Seedlings Taller Than 1 Meter Should Be Cut at 1 Meter Exactly
When you’re buying new seedlings taller than 1 meter, tell the nursery shop to cut it at 1 meter precisely. Cutting the seedling will help it form a future canopy and three skeletal branches, which are very important for the healthy and rapid growth of the tree.
Related: When To Plant Olive Trees? THE GUIDE
7. Good Growth of Top And Side Branches
Last but not least, you should check if seedlings have well-developed side and top branches (twigs). Seedlings with weak growth of side and top branches are not good, and you should avoid them.
Buying a high-quality and healthy seedling is the first step for growing a healthy olive tree that’ll produce high amounts of olive fruits. Low-quality seedlings will bring you more harm than good since they won’t grow as needed, and you’ll have to treat them with plenty of fertilizers to stimulate growth.
By following the seven steps I showed you above, you’ll always make sure that you’re buying a high-quality and healthy seedling that’s ready to be planted and to grow adequately.
Also, don’t forget to check if a specific olive tree variety requires some other cultivars to proliferate and bear as much fruit as possible. Here’s a great article on self-pollinating and cross-pollinating olive trees.