It's May, it's 24*C outside, in the UK.

I've got a tree in a pot and the one that is planted that doesn't have any leaves or show signs of producing any.

The one in the pot is an olive tree, I don't know what the other one is.

Are they dead? If not, how can I bring them to life?

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  • Aside - That pot looks way too small for that tree, so I'd guess it is root-bound.
    – Criggie
    Commented May 12 at 5:08

1 Answer 1


To quote from the RHS here:

Scratch the bark (the “scratch test”) on the shoots of your trees or shrub with your thumb nail or a penknife. A stem with green under the bark is alive; a stem with brown under the bark is dead. Living shoots also tend to have smooth, firm bark, whereas dead or dying shoots tend to have flaking, peeling or wizened bark.

Where the shoots are dead at the tips, repeat the test on thicker wood to see if that is also dead. Where most or all of the upper parts of a plant are brown under the bark, the plant is most likely dead.

A final test is to scrape the bark of the main stem just below the soil line or on the roots themselves. If this appears dark in colour, especially with any sign of soft, rotting roots, then you can be confident your plant is dead.

  • Am I supposed to cut off the dead bits?
    – Cheetah
    Commented May 12 at 11:21
  • 1
    @Cheetah - yes, if there are dead bits, then cut them off.
    – Peter4075
    Commented May 14 at 8:01

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