Olive trees are indeed a species that has been around for a long time. People have been growing olives for 6,000 to 8,000 years, according to archaeologists who discovered olive pits and evidence of olive oil in pottery shards.
In addition, olive trees offer tremendous benefits, according to studies. But where do olive trees grow best?
Olive trees (Olea Europea) are hardy and grow well in USDA zones 8 and above. They also can be grown in pots indoors. However, when grown in a container, ensure you transfer planted olives outside the plant whenever the weather warms up, as they don’t flourish indoors in the long term.
Read on to find out where olive trees grow best and how to grow and care for olive trees properly.
Olive Trees Overview
Olea europaea is known as an evergreen tree or shrub with slow to moderate growth living about 300 to 600 years. Olive trees blossom in spring and tend toward alternate blooming, yielding fruit heavily one year and lightly ( sometimes no fruits at all) the next.
The table below shows the common characteristics of olive trees.
|Genus name||Olea europaea|
|Common name||– Common olive tree|
– European olive tree
|Mature size||from 120 to 480 inches, 3 to 12 meters, or even more in height.|
|Soil Drainage||– Good Drainage|
– Rich and moist soil
|Sun exposure||Olive trees require full sun (about 6 or more hours of direct sunlight daily), according to North Carolina State University.|
|Best soil texture for olive trees||Olive trees thrive in soil with high organic matter and loam (Silt)|
|Propagation||– Stem Cutting|
|Olive trees flower bloom time||Summer|
|Resistance to challenges||Drought|
|Soil pH||5.5 to 8.5|
|Temperature requirements||– Olive trees thrive in hot, dry summers and mild but cool winters.|
– Between 60-68 °F (15-20 °C).
– However, olive trees survive in a maximum temperature up to 104 °F (40 °C) without causing damage and a minimum of 20 °F (-7 °C).
|Diseases and pests||– Verticillium wilt|
– Olive fruit flies
– Olive knot
– And black scale.
– The olive fruit fly is the most severe pest of fruit-bearing trees and can ultimately damage an olive crop by laying its eggs just under the fruit’s skin.
– Check out this article from the University of California Cooperative Extension for successfully controlling olive fruit flies in the home garden.
|Grow well in||– Container|
|USDA Plant Hardiness Zone||8 to 10|
|Region Of Origin||Africa, Asia, Mediterranean|
Where Do Olive Trees Grow Best
Generally, olive trees need a subtropical climate and thrive in mild winters and warm, long, and dry summers. They are sensitive to challenging freezing environments. They will grow in climate zones 8 to 11. and any temperatures below 22ºF (-5ºC) will kill small branches.
Also, since Olive trees are Mediterranean natives, thus they can withstand arid conditions. In other words, olive trees thrive Mediterranean-type climates, soils, and drainage.
Freezing weather conditions lasting a few days or a hard freeze below 15ºF (-10ºC) will mostly kill or severely harm or damage your olive tree.
Most people do not need increased humidity in their homes. Choose a dwarf olive variety if you want to grow one as a houseplant. Dwarf olives can reach a height of 6 feet, but they can be pruned to keep them smaller. These trees are sometimes grown as bonsai by gardeners.
Pruning can be challenging. If you decide to prune your olive tree, be careful and don’t cut it too much.
Typically, olive trees never bear fruit in the same area on a stem, so new yearly growth is essential for flower production and fruiting.
Check out this article from the Mediterranean Garden Society on how effectively prune young trees to the preferred shape and rejuvenate older trees for better fruit growth and easier harvesting.
Generally, olive trees start producing fruit after three years. Also, Olives are known to be alternate-year-bearing species and typically have a year of heavy fruit production followed by moderate production.
It is good to prune olive trees’ non-flowering branches during the lower-producing years during the flowering season.
Most olives can handle light frost or cool weather, but none can handle any hard freezes (below 15ºF), which generally kill them eventually. For example:
- Arbequina Olive (a Spanish commercial variety) is hardy through zones 7–9 and is also the most popular in Florida, according to the University of Florida.
- Kalamata Olive (an old Greek type) is hardy in zones 7–10.
- Planting more than one cultivar close together may increase fruit sets if you want your olive trees to produce fruits.
However, most olives are only hardy in climate zones 10 and 11.
Always take time to identify your zone and check if it matches the zone where the trees grow well. Soil is essential as well. Olive trees need well-drained soil, and a compaction zone will kill the roots. Once established, olive trees need very minimal care, but you will require to watch them closely if winter temperatures drop below 20 degrees.
In the United States, most olive trees are grown in Alabama, Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Texas, and Oregon. However, most of the olive trees are grown in California.
Olive Growth Site Selection
- Olive trees require non-stratified, moderately fine-textured soils, which include sandy loam, silt loam, clay loam, and silty clay loam. These types of soils are pretty porous, with a high water-holding capacity promoting aeration for root growth.
- Remember that sandier soils do not have high water-holding capacity or offer good nutrients. And heavier clays usually do not provide sufficient aeration for root growth, and they will not drain well.
- Choose soils with an unstratified structure (about four ft. (121.92 cm)). Since olive trees have shallow roots, they do not require very deep soils to thrive.
- In the United States, Southern exposures in the West and South will give better yields and protect your olive trees from freezes.
- Before selecting your olive growth site, check for the following:
- Ensure that there will not be run-off issues.
- Pests issues include untreated olive trees infested with the olive fly and dead native growth that may carry boring beetle, grasshopper, and weevil infestations.
- And other issues may include ground squirrels, wild pigs, or gophers.
Caring for Your Olive Tree Indoors
- One of the essential landscape considerations for growing olives is soil. Olives thrive in sandy, well-drained areas. Even though olive trees grow well in poor soil, excessive nitrogen fertilization can cause too much shoot growth instead of fruit production.
- Choose a spot in your home with at least six hours of direct sunlight per day, such as a southern aspect.
- And excessive watering from irrigation or rain will expose trees to root-rot disease and might damage production by pushing flowers to drop before they form fruits.
- Allowing your trees’ leaves to touch the window glass might boost the sunlight and cause them to burn. If your tree tries to surpass its position as a houseplant, prune the developing tips to keep it bushy.
- If required, cut some branches to keep the trees open in the middle and provide ample light and air to the leaves.
- In the winter and fall, feed your olive trees with a mixed houseplant fertilizer once a month.
- Force feed twice a month when spring arrives, or use a timed-release fertilizer.
- To figure out how much to use, carefully read the product’s instructions.
- Your tree is unlikely to bear fruit inside.
- To induce blooming, it requires a dip in daytime and night temperatures, as well as two months with temperatures below 50 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Remember, you may need to take precautions if you live on the edge of a zone and some unusual weather hits.
See also: 5 Must-Know Hibiscus Plant Diseases!
Using a Container to Plant Your Olive Tree
- Use a big container with holes for drainage. Fill it halfway with a well-draining potting mix or a sandy mixture, such as cactus potting soil.
- Turn your tree upside down, then tap the bottom if it’s in a nursery pot. Slide your tree out of the way and separate the roots gently. Add extra dirt to the container and plant the tree no deeper than it was growing inside its original pot.
- Allow about an inch (2.54 cm) between both the soil as well as the container’s rim to allow for watering. Use a saucer below the jar to catch drips, and place this on some bricks so that the water drains quickly through the perforations.
- Water well to settle your soil; it’s time to water again when you can insert your finger about an inch down into the pot as well as the soil feels dry. Olive trees take a long time to develop, especially in the autumn and winter, so don’t overwater them.
- Olives are self-fertile, but you’ll receive a greater crop if you grow a second tree for cross-pollination if you opt to put your tree outside.
Extending the Life of Your Olive Tree
- Wait until all threat of frost has gone before bringing your tree outside in the spring if you keep it as a houseplant.
- Keep it in a secluded area for the first few days to help it adapt, then gradually introduce it to more sunlight and wind.
- Keep an eye on the soil to make sure it doesn’t dry up.
- Place your olive tree in clear daylight after 7 to 10 days.
- It can stay outside until the first frost. Reverse the acclimatization process before bringing it back in. To assist it to acclimatize to the reduced levels of light in your house, put it back in a partially shadowed position for a week to ten days.
- You might be required to repot your olive after the first year, particularly when the roots become overcrowded.
- The basin will catch any rain or hose water, allowing it to soak into the earth and reach its roots.
- Where do olive trees grow best in the spring? When your outside tree begins to blossom, feed it once per month with a mixed, granular fertilizer or a time-released fertilizer, as directed on the package, for the best growth.
Different Types of Olive Trees Species
The table below contains different types of olive trees.
|Names||Genus name||Mature size||USDA Hardiness Zone||Common|
|Mission olive||Olea europaea ‘Mission’||25 to 30 feet tall and wide||8 to 11||San Diego|
|Manzanillo olive||O.europaea ‘Manzanillo’||25 to 30 feet tall and wide||8 to 10||California|
|Majestic beauty Fruitless Olive||O. europaea ‘Monher’||25 to 30 feet tall, up to 25 feet wide||8 to 11||great patio plant or garden tree|
|Frantoio Olive||O. europaea ‘Frantoio’||Up to 20 feet tall and wide||8 to 11||This elegant tree from Tuscany|
|Arbequina Olive||O. europaea ‘Arbequina’||15 to 20 feet tall, 8 to 12 feet wide||7 to 11||beautiful Spanish variety from Catalonia|
|Swan Hill Fruitless Olive||O. europaea ‘Swan Hill’||25 to 30 feet tall and wide||8 to 11|
|Little Ollie Dwarf Olive||O. europaea ‘Montra’||6 to 8 feet tall and wide||8 to 11||Exceptionally heat, drought, and salt tolerant.|
|Arbosana Olive||O. europaea ‘Arbosana’||12 to 15 feet tall, 12 to 20 feet wide||8 to 10||Spain|
1- Where do olive trees grow best in the US?
Olives are grown in Texas, Florida, Georgia, Arizona, Alabama, Oregon, and Hawaii states of United States.
2- What climate is best for olive trees?
Olive trees need a climate similar to that of the Mediterranean to thrive. They require a long, warm summer as well as a mild, but not freezing, winter.
3- How fast do olive trees grow
Olive trees, on average, grow just 2 – 4 inches (5 – 10 cm) of young shoots every year before reaching full maturity.
4- How much water does an olive tree need per day?
The olive tree uses 80 liters per day in the dry seasons when water demands are highest, which makes calculating the tank size quite straightforward.