Can you leave your olive tree outside in winter? This is how to take care of your olive tree in the winter months

Gardening experts explain the essential olive tree winter care you need to know

Front door with two olive trees
(Image credit: Future PLC/Dan Duchars)

Over the past year, olive trees have become the trendy thing to have in your home and garden alike. But if you’re partaking in the latest trend, you should know how to protect an olive tree in winter as the temperatures continue to drop.

We don’t blame you for falling for the beauty of this garden trend. They have a lot going for them, especially how they give off a nonchalantly luxurious vibe, making for the perfect Mediterranean garden idea. But it’s precisely their Mediterranean origin and the fact they are not used to freezing temperatures why one must be careful with their olive tree winter care.

That’s why we consulted our gardening experts to get their advice on what to do with olive trees in winter and whether you can leave your olive tree outside in the winter months. Here's what they said...

How to protect an olive tree in winter

A garden with a pizza oven and an olive tree

(Image credit: Future PLC/Joanna Henderson)

If you’re a fan of olive trees you probably already know that they are one of the best trees for small gardens. It’s just another reason why to love them and take good care of them once the cold hits.

But despite their Mediterranean roots, olive trees are more robust than they appear to be and their winter care is not complicated at all.

‘Olive trees feel at home in the warm, dry climate of the Mediterranean,’ says Petar Ivanov, gardening and plant expert for Fantastic Gardeners. ‘That said, olives are so robust that they can thrive in other environments, too, provided they are protected from cold and wet winters. For this reason, cultivating your olive tree in a pot is the perfect way to make winter care easier.’

A potted olive tree

(Image credit: Getty Images/GrigoriosMoraitis)
Petar Ivanov portrait
Petar Ivanov

Petar Ivanov is one of the company's top-performing experts and manages over six teams of gardeners, delivering stunning landscape results and fostering a deep connection with nature through his work.

Steve Chilton, garden expert at LeisureBench, recommends protecting your olive tree with plant fleece, also known as horticultural fleece. 

‘When there's particularly cold or frosty weather forecasted, I recommend covering your olive tree in winter with a plant fleece. This fleecing is designed specifically for covering plants and protecting them from both the frost and the cold, keeping the heat inside the fleecing and the cold out.’

But if you’re at a loss as to how you should wrap this quiet luxury garden buy, then here’s a little guide for you.

How to wrap an olive tree for winter

A potted olive tree among other potted plants

(Image credit: Getty Images/

It is worth noting that there are different weights of plant fleeces and it’s important to pick the right type, depending on the level of cold your area is experiencing.

But once you get your hands on the right fleecing, then follow Steve’s easy-to-follow guide.

‘Start wrapping your tree from the base of the trunk upwards and use string to tie it all together. If you are going to keep the fleece on your tree for an extended period of time (longer than the frosty period), then you should make sure that there is a few centimetres of space between the plant and the fleece. You can do this by installing some framework first, although this isn't necessary if your fleece wrap is designed to be temporary.’

Steve Chilton portrait
Steve Chilton

Steve is a passionate and knowledgeable garden expert with several years of experience within the field. As the director of LeisureBench, an industry-leading garden furniture company, Steve has developed strong expertise for all things nature and plants. 


Can you keep olive trees outside in the UK?

As we descend into the colder portion of the year and much of your garden plants need to be overwintered, you might be wondering if you need to start overwintering your olive tree too. Or can you just leave it outside for the duration of winter? 

‘Yes, you can leave your olive trees outside during winter but they should be protected from the cold in order to prevent damage to them,’ Steve says. ‘They can survive well in cold temperatures, as long as they don't reach -10°C, which is unlikely here in the UK.’

If those below 10°C temperatures are reached, then Steve recommends bringing the tree inside. ‘If there's a particularly cold spell of weather, and your olive tree is potted, I recommend bringing it inside. However, I don't recommend uprooting an olive tree and moving it from being buried in the ground to being buried in a plant pot inside. This could damage the plant and do more harm than good.’

Petar adds, ‘A single frosty night does not bother them, but longer periods of frost and cold, wet winters can be too much for these Mediterranean plants to handle. That said, do not overwinter your olive tree in a heated house. They need temperatures around the freezing point so that they know it is time for winter dormancy when they gather strength for budding and flowering in spring.’

Should you cover olive trees in winter?

Yes, olive trees should be covered with plant fleece in the winter months to keep the freezing cold out. 

‘You can get different types of fleece in terms of its weight, and it's important that you choose the right one in order to protect your olive tree. For example, a heavy duty plant fleece will protect plants from colder temperatures than a lighter fleece would. The majority of standard plant fleeces will protect your plant from freezing conditions, but nothing more,’ Steve explains.

Follow these steps and you should have a thriving, blooming olive tree come spring.

Sara Hesikova
News Writer

Sara Hesikova has been Ideal Home’s News Writer since July 2023, bringing the Ideal Home’s readership breaking news stories from the world of home and interiors. Graduating from London College of Fashion with a bachelor’s degree in fashion journalism in 2016, she got her start in niche fashion and lifestyle magazines like Glass and Alvar as a writer and editor before making the leap into interiors. She feels the two are intrinsically connected - if someone puts an effort into what they wear, they most likely also care about what they surround themselves with.