Why My Olive Tree Leaves Curling? – [6 Reasons + Fixing Guide]

Watering Issues, Changing in light, Too cold temperatures, Transplanting Shock, Over fertilizing and  Pest and fungus infestation are the main aspects of care that can cause the leaves of the olive tree to curl.

In this article, I will discuss in detail the causes of curling olive leaves and help you how to solve this problem. So let’s get started.

Quick Treatment Guide

Watering Olive Tree in Pot



Watering issueWater your plants twice a week.
Light requirement6-8 hours of bright full sunlight is recommended.
Temperature15-20°C (60-65°F) of temperature and Mediterranean climate.
Transplanting shockEvery week, give the roots at least 1.5 inches of water.
FertilizerSpecial citrus and NPK fertilizer are best.
Pests and fungus infestationLow-toxicity pyrethrum products for pests and copper spray for fungus are recommended. 

Reasons And Effective Solutions For Olive Tree Leaves Curling

Olive Tree Leaves Problems Fixing

1. Watering Issues

overwatering and under-watering both are responsible for olive tree leaves curling.

Olive trees typically have short and shallow roots. If you overwater the plant and these roots are submerged in water, they begin to rot. The symptoms of overwatering are curly leaves, yellow leaves, and leaf drooping. Even excess water disrupts the fruiting of olive trees.

Also, if you water the olive tree less than it needs, the soil of the tree will gradually dry out.  And when dry soil cannot provide the plant with the water it needs, the plant will fail to meet its physiological needs and the plant will shrivel, look pale, drop leaves, and slowly die.

Control Measure

Usually, twice a week watering is recommended for olive trees. You should check the soil before watering it every time.

Use a trick to determine your olive tree’s water requirements. Put one of your fingers into the soil at about two or three inches in depth. There is no need for water if it is wet. You can also use a moisture meter to know the soil’s water requirement (our pick: XLUX Soil Moisture Meter)

An olive tree pot must have a good drainage system to release extra water. If your plant is outdoors, you need to take extra precautions during monsoons. Because rainwater can cause waterlogging in your plants.

2. Changing In Light

The olive tree’s relationship with light is very important. A slight variation in light can cause fatal damage to them. Just as low light disrupts its normal growth, excess sunlight causes its leaves to curly and burn.

In addition, more sunlight than usual dehydrates the soil of the plant quickly, so the plant needs more water than usual. And when you don’t ensure that water supply, ultimately your plant will droop and die.

Control Measure

Olive trees prefer 6-8 hours of full sunlight. So you have to think about the positioning of your tree first.

If your plant is indoors, place it where it gets morning sun. It can be east or south-facing windows or balconies. However, the rest of the day should be kept away from sunlight. In that case, you can use a shaded cloth.

If the tree is outside, it should be planted in a place where it will be shaded by another big tree. You can also plant the tree next to your house’s parking shed. 

3. Too Cold Temperature

Low temperature is dangerous for your olive trees. When the temperature drops too low, the internal functions of the olive tree are disrupted.

As a result, problems such as leaf curling, browning, and leaf fall appear due to a lack of supply of necessary nutrients.

Control Measure

Olive trees generally prefer Mediterranean climates. They need a long summer and not-too-cold winters to grow healthily. 15-20°C (60-65°F) temperature is perfect. 

You have to maintain your room temperature very carefully. You can use an artificial temperature controller if winters are more severe in your area. And of course, this plant cannot be kept inside the AC room.

4. Transplanting Shock

When you transplant an olive tree, most of the time it will lose its production system and roots. Besides, many of the roots dry up and die due to lack of air exposure.

Transplant shock is one of the causes of leaf curling in olive trees. If your olive tree’s leaves suddenly scorch or turn yellow and slowly curl after transplanting, your plant has not recovered from the shock.

Control Measure

Before replanting the tree it is incredibly important to make sure the soil is the same as the original pot. Then you have to ensure the soil hole extends 2 to 3 times the roots of the plant and is deep enough for the root flare to sit slightly above the soil. Every week, give the roots of your olive tree at least 1.5 inches of water.

Epsom salt can be a good choice to help your olive tree recover from transplanting shock. Apply a little amount of Epsom salt to the soil after repotting the tree. 

You can also build a loft to support your tree or apply a three to four-inch thick layer of mulch from the base to the top of the plant. 

And the last step is patience. You have to take care of your olive tree regularly to recover from transplanting shock.

5. Over Fertilizing

Over-fertilizers are responsible for the leaf curling of olive trees. Generally, olive trees prefer very little amount of fertilizer. So if you give it too much fertilizer then your plant may have a fertilizer-burning issue.

Additionally, excess fertilizer disrupts your plant’s normal biochemical activity. As a result, problems such as drying, curling, and falling leaves of the tree are evident. Over-fertilizers also accelerate plant pest attack rates.

Control Measure

Olive trees prefer a small amount of fertilizer only in the growing season. Special citrus fertilizers are best for them. This liquid fertilizer is not only effective for the soil but also can reduce the risk of fertilizer burning.

You have to mix 20-25 ml fertilizer with 5 liters of water and spray it twice a week.

You can also use coffee grounds instead of other fertilizers. This waste material has a high amount of nitrogen. But you have to use crushed eggshells with the coffee grounds to maintain the pH level of the soil.

Any best fruit fertilizer or  15-15-15 NPK fertilizer is also good for olive trees.

6. Pests And Fungus Infestation

Leaf curling of olive trees due to lace bug attacks is very common. Lace bugs are very small in size and dark brown in color which can be seen with the naked eye.

They suck the sap from the backside of the leaf, thereby depriving the plant of adequate nutrition. Gradually the leaves of the plant become wrinkled, turn brown and fall off.

Another cause of olive leaf curling is fungal attack. This problem is mainly caused by the attack of a type of fungus called peacock spot. 

Generally, they attack in autumn and spring. First small black tiny spots appear on the surface of the leaves. Later the spots turn dark greenish black and the leaves curl from all sides.

Control Measure

Lace bug control is not difficult but you need to use a good-quality chemical spray. Low-toxicity pyrethrum products are best. Use this spray once a day for two weeks.

If the plant is heavily infested with lace bugs, the plant should be pruned before spraying.

This will improve airflow to your plants and make pest control more effective by facilitating the penetration of chemical sprays.

Even after the infestation is under control, your tree may be re-infected with lace bugs.  Therefore regular pest monitoring is necessary.

A good quality copper spray is one of the most effective ways to control peacock fungus. Apply it early in the morning as per the instructions on the bottle. It is best to apply this spray in late autumn.

Here is the all-in-one solution for you Monterey LG 6145 70% Neem Oil Ready-To-Spray Insecticide, Miticide, & Fungicide

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q: How often should I fertilize my olive tree?

Ans: Olive trees have a low nutrient requirement and do not require frequent fertilization. You can fertilize your olive tree once or twice a year, preferably in the early spring and fall, using a balanced fertilizer or a fertilizer specifically formulated for olive trees.

Q: Can olive trees be grown in containers?

Ans: Yes, olive trees can be grown in containers, as long as the container is large enough to accommodate the root system and has good drainage. However, olive trees grown in containers require more frequent watering and fertilization than those grown in the ground.

Q: How long does it take an olive tree to recover from transplant shock?

Ans: Some varieties of olive trees require up to two years to completely recover from their stress-related illnesses. On rare occasions, it may even take trees up to 5 years to fully recover.

Q: When should you repot an olive tree?

Ans: Late spring is the ideal time to repot or plant an olive tree but keep in mind that the tree needs protection during extended cold spells.


Try to understand the plants’ silent scream when you see curly leaves on your olive trees.

The first thing you need to do is find out what is causing your tree’s leaves to curl. Then you have to begin the preventative process. Regular maintenance will protect your plant from the abovementioned dangers.

I hope you found this article to be useful.

Happy gardening.

James Rivenburg
James Rivenburg
James Rivenburg

James Rivenburg is the founder of plantandpest.com, a passionate gardener with valuable experience and knowledge gained through trial and error. The website has a large community of followers who trust his tips and techniques and have succeeded with his advice. He is always Committed to helping others create a beautiful and healthy garden.

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