Miniature olive tree

(Question)

Dear sir or madam,
I have a miniature olive tree that I received last summer as a gift.  I am so worried about it!  Over the past months it has not looked happy losing a lot of leaves. I  water it once a week but not sure if too much or too little. I was planning on repotting it into a smaller pot and use cacti soil around the root ball for drainage soil to avoid root rot. In the photo is the smaller pot I placed it in but have yet filled it around with the cactus soil.
I would appreciate any advice to get it healthy again,
Thank you,

(Answer)

Many plants suffer leaf loss in winter in our very dry homes. However, olives are usually not unhappy in a dry climate during winter, since the plant is not actively growing at that time.

I suspect that you may be over watering. Although the plant needs quite a bit of water when outdoors in summer, less is required in winter. Test the soil by poking  your finger in to the first knuckle … the soil should be only slightly damp, not wet.

If the soil is wet, take the plant out of the pot, shake off most of the soil, cut away any rotten roots, and repot, using a cactus mix as you thought. You say you have already transplanted the plant to a smaller container once.  Normally, as the tree grows, you will want to transplant it to a 1 inch larger container every year or two.  The proportion between the plant and pot in your photo seems fine for now.

The miniature olive does lose leaves naturally, and as the days grow longer, you should begin to feed it with a standard houseplant fertilizer every month or so to encourage new growth. Make sure the plant is in the brightest location in your home.