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Olea Europaea

Are you up for a challenge that is extraordinarily rewarding? Grow olive trees!

Of course, if you’re located in the US and you don’t already live in particular parts of California, Texas, Georgia, Florida, Arizona, Oregon, Alabama, or Hawaii, you’ll have to move there.

These trees require warm summer temperatures as well as about 200 hours of winter temperatures below 45°F. But nothing below about 20°F, mind you.

At around 17°F, you’ll see leaf and small-stem damage, and the tree will likely be killed to the ground at temperatures below 10°F, although mature trees may regrow from the roots.

Anyway, are you settled in your new home, or already based in an ideal location? Good! In this growing guide, we’ll learn more about this Mediterranean import that gifts its caretakers with fabulous fruit, healthful oils, and an attractive addition to the landscape.

Here’s what’s covered in this article:

We’ll share everything you need to know to grow Olea europaea, the tree beloved by ancient Greeks and Romans, and whose fruit has been popularized in the modern age by Italians, Greeks, and Spaniards.

What You’ll See When You Survey Your Orchard

Olive trees are evergreen and can grow to 25-30 feet tall, with a spread just as wide. Their oblong leaves are silverish and grow from branches emanating from a gnarled, twisted trunk.

Some experts believe that more space between trees – about 16-20 feet – will yield better fruit production. If this isn’t practical for your new parcel of land, consider a dwarf variety, which we’ll discuss in a bit.

Mind you, if an expansive orchard isn’t at all what you were after, you should know that the olive makes a fine specimen tree that you can plant and enjoy simply for its beauty, with nary a thought to harvest and curing and pressing and whatnot.

Which Type Is Right for You? (And Where to Buy)

The type of tree you select will depend on what you hope to get out of it. Different cultivars produce different flavors of olives and oil, of course.

You might sample various oils at a farmers market, for example, to select a variety that appeals to you.

‘Mission’ is a variety well-suited to home gardeners who wish to press or cure their harvest. Bob Wells Nursery offers this variety, and it’s available via Amazon.

2-Year ‘Mission’ Trees

The tree they’ll ship to you is two years old.

If you have the patience of Job and don’t mind starting out small, consider this petite ‘Manzanillo’ plant, available from Wellspring Gardens via Amazon.

‘Manzanillo’ O. Europaea Live Plant

They’ll ship you a 3- to 8-inch seedling in a 3-inch pot, along with a fertilizer sample. At maturity, it will reach 30-40 feet with large, great-tasting fruit that are also excellent for producing oil.

‘Arbosana’ is a cultivar that is suited for smaller spaces, growing to be 12-15 feet tall with a spread of 12-20 feet. You can find this type at Nature Hills Nursery.

‘Arbosana’ in #1 Container

This Spanish native produces large crops of small fruit with a high oil content that are very flavorful. You’ll receive a tree in a 2.3- to 3.7-quart container.

If you’d like the beauty of an olive tree without the hassle of the fruit, consider ‘Wilsonii,’ a fruitless variety available from High Desert Nursery via Amazon.

Fruitless ‘Wilsonii’ Live Rooted Plant

You’ll receive a 16- to 20-inch tree, or several if you want to take advantage of one of their package deals.

Most cultivars are self-pollinating, though some are not. Furthermore, some self-pollinating varieties produce heavier yields when a pollinator – such as ‘Pendolino,’ ‘Maurino,’ or ‘Leccino’ – is nearby.

No Additives, Please

As we mentioned above, O. europaea is native to regions that have mild, rainy winters and hot, dry summers.

You’ll want to place your trees where they’ll get full sun all day.

These trees are tolerant of a wide variety of soils, including those with somewhat high clay content, as long as there is good drainage.

Planting a young tree in the fall gives it a chance to become well-established. But this is an option only if temperatures in your area won’t drop below 30°F, or if you can protect the tree.

This is because container-grown trees are susceptible to frost damage during their first winter outdoors.

If waiting until spring seems more prudent, hold off until all danger of frost is past. Planting in the heat of summer is not recommended.

Dig a hole about the same size as the container, and about an inch shallower. Water the tree thoroughly, remove it from its container, and untwist or cut any circling roots.

Set the root ball in the hole. Use soil you removed from the hole to build up about an inch of soil on top of the root ball, and grade down from the trunk to the surrounding soil.


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Product photos via Bob Wells Nursery, Wellspring Gardens, Nature Hills Nursery, High Desert Nursery, Bonide, Terro, and Garden Safe. Uncredited photos: .

About Gretchen Heber

A former garden editor for a daily newspaper in Austin, Texas, Gretchen Heber goes through entirely too many pruners and garden gloves in a year’s time. She’s never met a succulent she didn’t like and gets really irritated every 3-4 years when Austin actually has a freeze cold enough to kill them. To Gretchen, nothing is more rewarding than a quick dash to the garden to pluck herbs to season the evening meal. And it’s definitely time for a happy dance when she’s able to beat the squirrels to the peaches, figs, or loquats.

What is the difference between green olives and black olives?

Olives are green when they are unripe, mottled reddish-purple (rosy) when they are partially ripe, and black when they are fully ripe. Pickled green olives and rosy olives are firmer than black olives, and most people find them to have a sharper more pungent flavor. Pickled black olives have a softer texture and a fuller, more subtle flavor. Preference for either is a matter of individual taste.

Download the full factsheet

Olive oil is pressed from a blend of unripe, partially ripe, and fully ripe olives. For a sweeter-flavored oil, the mix is 1/4 green, 1/2 partially ripe, and 1/4 black. if you prefer a sharper-flavored oil, you would use more green olives than either fully ripe or partially ripe in the mix.

How cold-hardy are olive trees?

An olive tree isn’t fazed by 32°F. a few varieties of olive trees are extremely cold hardy and can withstand temperatures as low as 10°F. however, most varieties suffer damage when the temperature drops below 20°F and remains at that level for a period of days. Usually, the most likely damage your trees will suffer at that temperature range is tip burning, and they will recover. however, an olive tree is not likely to survive below 10°.

you can spray your trees with water when the temperature is predicted to fall below freezing. The ice that forms on the leaves and branches insulates the tree by holding the temperature to 32°. additionally, a good watering before a hard freeze helps the root system retain heat.

What soils will olives grow in?

The olive tree is a tremendously adaptable plant that can grow in almost any soil that is well-drained. an extremely ph tolerant plant, olive trees grow successfully in ph ranges from 5.0 (acid level) to 8.5 (alkaline level). Since the trees don’t require a lot of organic matter in the soil, they even grow successfully in sand and gravel. in some desert areas, it may be necessary to set the trees in holes drilled through the imperme- able layer. also, a soil that is underlain by a shallow hardpan or a layer of clay could create drainage issues for the trees if water becomes trapped in pockets due to poor absorption, thus drowning the deeper roots.

How soon will my trees produce olives?

The length of time it takes for an olive tree to produce fruit depends on the variety of tree. dwarf varieties (arbequina, arbosana, koroneiki) have been bred to produce as early as two to three years after planting; others may not produce a full crop until they’ve been in the ground for four to seven years.

Weather is one factor that determines production. Olive trees need 200-300 chill hours to produce fruit. Once the olive tree has flowered, a temperature of 90° to 100° F and above, can burn the flowers. This will limit your level of production. however, if you already have fruit on the tree, the higher temperatures will not affect the fruit. The USda is experimenting with products such as Surround and comparable products. Spraying the trees with Surround or a like product right before they are ready to bud insulates the tree against extreme heat.

Water conditions also affect production. after flowering, the trees need adequate water; however, before budding, you can stress the trees by reducing the water slightly. a little stress will promote fruiting.

Missing nutrients in the soil can affect the amount of fruit and the shape of the fruit your trees produce. For example, if you don’t have adequate boron in your soil, your fruit will be misshaped. also, olive trees require adequate levels of potassium and phosphorus for fruiting. There are other macronutrients and micronutrients that can affect whether your crop will be heavy or light, or whether your trees will produce any fruit at all. For a more thorough explanation of adequate nutrient levels, consult The Olive Production Manual.

How much water do olive trees require?

Olive trees are extremely drought-tolerant. actually, more trees suffer damage due to over-watering than to drought. it is difficult to state a general rule for the amount of water your trees will require, since the amount varies according to the water-holding capacity of the soil in which they are planted. The suggested range is 24 to 52 gallons a week, with sandy soil (sugar sand) requiring the most water, and sandy loam requiring the least. For more detailed information on this topic, please click here.

What is Extra Virgin Olive Oil?

It is all about the acidity level. Olive oil that is .08% or less is classified as extra virgin olive oil. if the oil has an acidity level over .08%, but less than 3%, it is classified as virgin olive oil. any oil with an acidity level over 3% is simply olive oil.

What is Cold Pressed Olive Oil?

When you press olive oil, a paste, pomace, is formed. Once the olive oil has been extracted from the paste, it can be reheated and run through the machine again. The oil resulting from the reheated pomace, it is not considered cold press and is of an inferior quality.

What is first-pressed olive oil?

This means that the oil results from pomace that is fresh rather than used a second time to make oil.

What is the best variety to grow in Texas?

So far we’ve found fifteen varieties of olive trees that are suited to Texas. These are listed in our nursery sec- tion of our website. Some do better in USda Zone 8 and some do better in Zones 9 and 10. We’ll continue to experiment, trying new varieties and growing acclimated stocks of those varieties we’ve proven suitable.

Does Sandy Oaks Olive Orchard offer consulting services?

We do offer consulting services at the rate of $125.00 per hour. This is an opportunity for individuals to meet with the owner one on one and is especially suited to those individuals who want to grow olive trees com- mercially. This consultation is the nuts and bolts of entering this new Texas industry. In addition, we also routinely offer a free tour on Saturdays at 11:00. during the tour we discuss the care and planting of olive trees as well as their commercial value. We answer our customers’ questions on such matters as testing and amending their soils, fertilizing, and selecting appropriate varieties of olive trees.

We’re happy to share our experience with our customers who run into problems with their trees. Give us a call (210-621-0044) or email us to outline your problems.

• Climate Olive trees are native to the Mediterranean, so they thrive in a climate where the summer is long, hot and dry and the winter is cool (they’re quite frost tolerant). Not suited to the tropics, they will grow well in temperate climates and even along coastal areas.


• Aspect Plant in full sun where the tree will receive at least six hours of direct sunlight. Preferably give it a position out of strong winds or stake well.

• Soil These trees can survive on poor, low-nutrient soils, providing they are well-drained. However, they will produce better fruit if planted in well-drained, fertile soil. If you’re growing in pots, use a top-quality potting mix.

• Fertiliser Feed in early spring and late summer with a well-balanced fertiliser, such as Yates Dynamic Lifter Advanced For Fruit & Citrus or Osmocote Plus Organics Fruit & Citrus, which feeds the plant and enriches the soil, too.


• Watering Water new trees regularly until they’re well established. Mature trees are very drought tolerant but will produce better fruit if watered well.

• Pruning To encourage growth, prune out suckers and low branches during winter, and remove the tips of stems that have grown too long.

• Pests and diseases Keep an eye out for olive lace bugs. These are native Australian critters that suck sap from the underside of the leaves – they can completely defoliate the tree and eventually kill it. If seen, thoroughly spray the underside of the leaves with a product such as Eco-oil or pyrethrum. Peacock spot, a widespread fungal disease, can also affect the leaves and strip the tree of its foliage. It causes sooty blotches to form on the leaves in winter, which develop into greenish-black circular spots. To control the disease, infected trees should be thoroughly sprayed in late autumn with a copper fungicide such as Yates Fungus Fighter Copper Fungicide. If the problem is severe, spray again in early winter.

• Harvesting Once the tree is four or five years old, it will start to bear fruit. Harvesting generally takes place from mid-autumn to early winter. For green olives, pick your fruit when it turns from dark green to light green, or you can wait for them to turn black, but still firm, for black olives. They can be picked by hand or, for the more serious pickers, spread a sheet or tarpaulin on the ground underneath the tree, then shake the tree vigorously to free the fruit.


Top 5 olive trees
Check out these well-known olive cultivars – their fruit can be pickled or pressed into oil.

‘Kalamata’ produces juicy, sweet olives that are harvested once they turn black. Recognisable by their unique torpedo shape, they are ideal for cooking or eating on their own. This variety is self-fertile, but fruiting may improve if cross-pollinated with Frantoio. Height: 8m

‘Picual’ is a medium-sized tree originating from Spain. It bears fruit early in the season that’s best picked when ripe. This variety is self-fertile but may benefit from cross-pollination with Arbequina. Height: 6m

‘Frantoio’ is well-known for it olives, which are used to make fruity, aromatic oil. When pickled, these olives have a pleasant nutty flavour. Frantoio is a self-fertile variety that consistently produces heavy yields. Height: 8m

‘Manzanillo’ is one of Spain’s finest varieties. It’s considered the world’s best dual-purpose cultivar as its olives can be pickled when they’re green or black, and are also used to produce oil that is exported internationally. This variety is self-fertile, but may benefit from cross-pollination with Frantoio and Arbequina. Height: 5m

‘Arbequina’ bears olives that are traditionally used for oil production, but they can also be pickled green or black. This variety is self-fertile and fruits early in the season. Height: 4-5m


How To Grow An Olive Tree (Olea Europaea) In A Pot Or Container

An Olive in a pot is essential for a Mediterranean garden or sunny patio

Olive trees (Olea europaea) are small evergreen trees which are now in widespread cultivation, being extremely important, economically, in many Mediterranean countries. It is one of the worlds most economically important crops, with 95% of the world’s production being concentrated around the Mediterranean. In 2011 there were about 9.6 million hectares under cultivation. The wealth of the Minoan civilisation, about 3,500 years ago, is thought to have been built on the back of olive oil. Originally it was widespread in the Mediterranean region, Africa, the Canary Islands, Reunion, Mauritius, China and southern Asia. In the wild it can reach a height of 15m (49’) and attain a considerable girth, with the trunk becoming twisted and gnarled and particularly sculptural.

It prefers to grow on well drained limestone soils, but is happy for a number of years in a large container, given the right conditions. There are trees which are scientifically proved to be over 2,000 years old, but it is thought to have been in cultivation for at least 5 – 6,000 years. It has been held sacred for centuries, being a symbol for peace, glory and abundance. An olive branch was found in the tomb of Tutankhamun.

Most of the olives produced, 90%, go for oil, with the remaining 10% being used as table olives. They can be picked at three stages: green, when they are picked at full size but before they have started to ripen; semi-ripe, picked when they are just starting to ripen and ripe or black, picked when they are fully mature. In their raw state they are quite bitter and must be put through a process of curing and fermentation to make them palatable.


If you are to leave them outside all year round they need a warm, south or west facing sheltered urban garden or a mild area which gets little or no frost. Planted in the ground it can reach a height and spread of 10m (30’). Most of us have to grow them in a container, especially here in the Lake District. Place them somewhere sunny and sheltered in the summer, then bring them under cover in winter to a frost-free environment, an unheated greenhouse, conservatory or lean-to. It does not have to be completely frost free if the tree is quite mature as it can withstand temperatures down to -10C (14F).


Choose a container which is in proportion to the size of the tree. Remember that you will have to move it inside in winter. If you have a pot which is too big for the plant there is a danger that it will sit in too much wet compost over winter. Place a good layer of crocks, 5cm (2”) at least, in the bottom of the container. Raise the pot off the ground with pot feet, stones or a couple of bricks so that the water can get clean away from the pot, this ensures that the drainage holes don’t become blocked up with silt. Plant to the same depth as it is in the pot; into a mixture of 4 parts loam-based John Innes No 3 and 1 part horticultural grit. It needs well-drained compost as sitting in soggy wet compost in winter can be fatal.


Make sure it is kept damp during the growing season and feed fortnightly with a balanced liquid fertiliser. It can cope with occasional dry spells but it could lead to it shedding leaves. It will naturally shed some of the older leaves in spring when the new seasons growth begins. In winter reduce the watering to keep the compost just and so damp.


It is naturally slow growing so does not need much pruning. Keep the inside of the tree fairly clear to ensure a good airflow, which discourages fungal infections. Take out any dead or diseased branches. When the plant has reached 150 – 180cm (5 – 6’) pinch out the growing tips to encourage the tree to become bushier. If the plant is a particular shape, such as lollipop, keep it trimmed to maintain the shape. If you are going to make a standard out of a bush choose one which has a strong lead stem; as the plant grows take off any side branches. Once you have the desired height start to shape the head by trimming back. Pruning too hard will produce a lot of sappy growth which won’t bear fruit.


Olives are self-fertile but you can increase productivity if you have two trees. It needs two months of cold temperatures in winter below 10C (50F,) to initiate flower production; it also needs a fluctuation between day and night temperatures, so keep it somewhere unheated at night. If it is kept indoors with a fairly constant temperature it is unlikely to fruit. A prolonged cold spell of below 7.5C (45F) will also reduce the likelihood of fruit production, as will keeping it too dry between February and May.


Propagation is by taking semi-ripe cuttings in summer. Most varieties are grafted as these produce more fruit than trees produced by cuttings or seed.

Pests and diseases

Leaf drop, dieback and bark splitting are caused by too long a cold spell, even mature plants can be damaged if the temperature drops below -10C (50F).

Verticillium wilt and Phytopthora are caused by the roots becoming water-logged, so make sure the compost is well draining and don’t overwater.

Scale insects are small disc shaped flat insects which suck the sap and can seriously debilitate the plant. They exude sticky honeydew which attracts a black sooty mould which can be the first sign that you have an infestation. They are not easy to get rid of; if there is a lot of sooty fungus you may have to deal with this first before you can get rid of the insects. The fungus can be removed with soapy water then sprayed with a fungicide to stop it spreading. The insects can be scraped off by hand if there are only a few, otherwise you may have to spray several times with a systemic insecticide. There are parasitic wasps if you want to use a biological control but it needs to be carried out in a controlled area, such as a greenhouse.

Olive scab is a fungal infection which produces dark brown/purple spots with a green centre, on the leaves. It leads to the leaves yellowing and dropping and eventually to branches dying back. Prune back infected branches, collect fallen leaves and either burn them or dispose of in the grey bin; don’t put them on the compost heap as this only spreads the infection. Spraying with Fungus Fighter will protect against the fungus, especially if the weather is wet in spring and summer, you will probably need a couple of applications. When you water just apply to the compost and not over the leaves as this spreads any spores.

If you only have containers or a small garden see the blog articles: ‘How to grow fruit in small spaces and containers on a limited budget’, ‘What vegetables can I grow in containers and small spaces?’ and ‘How to grow salad leaves on the windowsill’.

It can’t be denied that creating an indoor urban jungle is becoming increasingly popular; Instagram feeds and Pinterest boards everywhere have been inundated with idyllic bohemian images of every room of the house filled with glorious greenery.

What started with an indoor potted palm or succulent here and there, has now developed into homeowners and would-be gardeners becoming bold in their interior choices when it comes to greenery – and it seems that bigger is better.

While the John Lewis retail report predicted the cactus was going to be the 2017 plant of choice, Houzz has stated that oversized plants like the Madagascar Dragon Tree, Fiddle Leaf Fig and Umbrella Plant are among the top 10 plants to grow indoors.

Yes, it appears that the humble houseplant has just got an international upgrade. However, one variety that is often overlooked is the olive tree (olea europaea). Known for gracing the balmy landscapes of the Mediterranean, these ancient plants are particularly tolerant of dry air (and to an extent – soil) meaning they thrive indoors as well as outside when the warmer weather arrives, making it an adaptable houseplant and bringing a touch of sunnier climes into our daily lives.

MIXAGetty Images Annika VannerusGetty Images

Do you want to add an olive tree to your indoor haven? Follow this advice first:

1. Choose wisely: Some varieties of olive trees can grow up to 10 feet tall, and while we are championing the notion of ‘bigger is better’ – a 10-foot olive tree might be pushing the boundary. It’s best to opt for a dwarf variety as these only grow up to six foot. Pruning them helps to keep them compact, while if you are still feeling cautious, you can opt for a bonsai version.

2. Many of us are opting for large plants to brighten up dark corners of a room, but olive trees want to soak up those rays! Make sure that you have a spot in your home that gets direct sunlight for a minimum of six hours. If you are lucky enough to have that coveted southern exposure, this is the very spot! Although let it be said that the plant should be positioned far back enough from the glass – the leaves can burn from the intensified sunlight.

3. When it comes to repotting, there are rules to follow. It’s important to seek out suitable soil; a sandy mix that drains easily is what you should look out for – cactus potting soil is ideal. You need to leave around an inch between the soil and the rim of the pot to leave room for watering; drainage is really important for olive trees, so be sure to choose a pot with drainage holes. Where possible, elevate the tree above a drip tray to make drainage even easier. It’s likely your plant will need repotting after a year of owning it because the roots will have become crowded; for best results, move it up one pot size each time.

4. How do you know when to water? You need to put your finger into the soil until it’s about an inch deep – if the soil feels dry, it’s time to water. It’s worth noting that in autumn and winter, the rate of growth slows and it’s easy to overwater, that’s why going by touch is best practice.

Standard 5ft olive tree, £199.99, Olive Grove Oundle Olive Grove Oundle Daniel Reiter / STOCK4BGetty Images Gnarled Hojiblanca Bonsai Olive Tree, £459.99, Olive Grove Oundle Olive Grove Oundle

5. As well as going steady on the watering front during the winter months, it’s time to ease off the ‘feeding’ too. During spring and summer, olive trees require a balanced houseplant fertiliser twice a month – but this drops to once a month in autumn and winter.

6. Indoor olive trees are unfortunately vulnerable to scale; insects that suck sap and weaken plants. You can identify plants that are being affected by the sooty deposits, or white waxy eggs on leaves and scales, on the stems and leaves. If you spot any of these signs, it can be treated by spraying insecticidal soap.

7. If you had dreams of cold pressing your own olive oil, that probably won’t happen with an indoor plant – they need to experience the drop in nighttime and daytime temperatures and two months of temperatures below 10 degrees Celsius in order to produce fruit. While they are native to notoriously warm countries, olive trees can withstand temperatures as low as -7 degrees!

8. If you decide that you want to move your olive tree into the garden, it will need to be transitioned gradually. All danger of frost needs to have passed for the tree to survive outside; it should be first moved into a sheltered spot of the garden and exposed to wind and sun over a period of 10 days to help it to acclimatise. The tree is self-fertile, but if you plant it in the garden then planting more than one tree will aid cross-pollination and yield a bigger harvest. If you want to bring the plant back inside once the warmer weather begins to wane, you will need to acclimatise it once again. Moving it back to a shaded spot with lower levels of light helps it to adjust to indoor conditions.

9. Finally, in order to keep olive trees from outgrowing their space in your home, the tips need to be pruned. To make sure that the foliage receives plenty of light and air, prune out entire branches – this also maintains a full, bushy shape.

And there you have it – a place for caring for these ancient plants. Olive trees are becoming popular home editions, guaranteed to make a statement and bring a touch of the Mediterranean to your home or garden.

Discover a huge selection of olive trees at Olive Grove Oundle

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How to Grow Olea europaea Plants

Quick Growing and Care Guide

Plant Details

Growing Conditions

  • Best Light and Aspect Conditions: Full sun. Plant South/West facing against a warm wall in cooler areas
  • Suitable Soil Types: Calcium rich,
  • Suitable Soil pH: Alkaline soils 7.1 to 8.
  • Soil Soil Moisture: Medium, but drought tolerant once established.
  • Sowing, planting, and Propagation: Seeds do not stay true so best cultivated from cuttings or layers. Sow seeds in spring at 55 to 60°F (13 to 15°C). Plant saplings in spring. Take semi-ripe cuttings in Summer. Take hardwood cuttings in winter.
  • Care: Pinch young plants to encourage branching. Remove the weakest branches and keep four or five of the strongest branches once they have established (about 5 feet (1.6 m). Light pruning in late spring to remove decayed/dying/dead branches and to tidy up. Prune container grown plants more aggressively to keep in check. NB. pruning generally results in poorer olive harvests. Olive plants will probably not bear fruit if not growing in non-Mediterranean like climates. Regularly water and feed container grown plants. Minimum of four years before bearing fruit.

Further Information

  • Best used for: Slopes, Crags, Courtyards, City garden, large containers in cooler areas (bring indoors for the winter.)
  • Family:
  • Closely Related Species:
  • Miscellaneous: Drought tolerant. Takes at least 20 years to make full height, trees are long lived – some are estimated to be over 2000 years old.
  • Family: Oleaceae
  • Further Reading and References used for this Olea europaea growing guide: RHS; Wikipedia

Shady Lady Black Olive Tree

Bucida buceras

The exquisite Shady Lady black olive tree, with its lush layers of tiny leaves on zigzagged stems, is one of the most beautiful South Florida trees.

With the look of a natural bonsai, this tree lends an Oriental garden appeal when it’s young. It grows in layered tiers with a distinct space between each set of horizontal branches.
Each of these trees is unique and grows differently. After its Oriental garden youth, a young tree may develop a somewhat funky appearance. The foliage often grows into an irregular oval shape, with tops or shoots going out in odd directions.

But all these growth stages will pay off as the tree matures to form a beautiful, well-shaped rounded crown.

It’s covered with tiny yellow-beige flowers in spring, giving the tree the look of a pale brown sugar frosting.

These aren’t huge trees so they work very well in a medium size yard.

In a large yard the “ladies” look lovely planted in a row.

And this tree’s salt tolerance makes it an ideal shade tree for coastal properties.

If your yard is too small for a Shady Lady tree, you might like the dwarf black olive, a small accent tree like a miniature, young Shady Lady

There is an older landscape tree usually called just “Black Olive Tree.” Shady Lady is the new and improved cultivar and the one to buy.

Sorry, no olives – in fact, Shady Lady isn’t actually related to real olive-bearing trees.

Plant specs

This black olive tree is a moderate grower that can reach 30 feet in height.

Evergreen and salt tolerant, it prefers full to part sun and does best in Zone 10.

The branches do have small spines that can prick your fingers, so wear gloves when handling.

Plant care

Add top soil and organic peat humus to the hole when you plant.

Leave lower branches on a very young tree…this feeds the trunk and makes it stronger.

As the tree matures, you can remove lower branches up to about 3 feet off the ground.

A non-messy tree, Shady Lady’s leaves are tiny and won’t cause leaf litter – and fallen flowers will blow away in the breeze.

Water on a regular basis with enough time in between waterings to let the tree dry out a bit.

Fertilize 3 times a year – spring, summer and autumn – with a good quality granular fertilizer.

Plant spacing

Place at least 15 feet from the house.

Roots are not a problem so the tree can go as close as 6 feet from a walk or drive – though you’ll have to trim up lower branches as the tree matures to allow for foot or vehicle traffic.

Landscape uses for Shady Lady black olive tree

  • single yard specimen
  • lining a large driveway
  • along the front of a large yard
  • near a patio or deck for shade

COMPANION PLANT SUGGESTIONS: Don’t plant anything beneath the tree while it’s young, and keep turf grass away from the trunk. Once it’s mature you could underplant with Aztec grass or peperomia. Nearby plants might include hibiscus, dwarf bougainvillea, cocoplum, Burgundy loropetalum and yellow elder.

Other trees you might like: Weeping Podocarpus, Mahogany

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Bucida buceras, Terminalia buceras
Family: Combretaceae
Florida Black Olive Tree, Oxhorn Bucida, Gregory Wood
Origin: Florida

This tree is a widely used tree in South Florida. It is claimed to be native to the upper Florida Keys, but that is disputed. Very dense, full, oval to rounded crown with age. Sometimes the top of the crown will flatten with age, and the tree grows horizontally. Does best in rich, moist, well-drained soil – although can be grown in almost any type soil. Flowers are small, off-white, odd smelling when in bloom – very attractive to bees, produced in four-inch-long spikes during spring and summer. It does not produce edible olives, only small, hard, seed capsules. Florida Black Olive makes a wonderful and very large shade tree. Attractive to birds for nesting and cover, shade and specimen tree – give plenty of room to grow. Does well in sea-side locations, heavy branches very wind tolerant.

Similar plants:

  • Bucida spinosa, Bucida molinetti, Terminalia spinosa (Spiny Black Olive, Ming Tree)
  • Bucida sp.variegata (Dwarf Geometry Tree)
  • Terminalia bentzoe, Terminalia angustifolia (Benjoin)
  • Terminalia calamansanai (Philippine Almond, Yellow Terminalia)
  • Terminalia catappa (Tropical Almond, Badamier, Java Almond, Indian Almond, Malabar Almond, Singapore Almond, Ketapang, Huu Kwang, Pacific Almond)
  • Terminalia foetidissima (Terminalia)
  • Terminalia ivorensis (Black Afara)
  • Terminalia kaernbachii, Terminalia okari (Okari Nut, Yellow Terminalia)
  • Terminalia mantaly (Madagascar Almond, Umbrella Tree)
  • Terminalia muelleri (Muellers Terminalia)

More similar plants

Learning how to prune an olive tree may seem simple. However, pruning the olive grove in the most appropriate way is something that requires good training, lots of practice and experience.

Trimming olive trees is an art with different techniques: training pruning of the olive tree, pruning maintenance and pruning of renovation.

When the olive trees are cut down intensively, a lot of branch volume is lost, so the future harvest will be negatively affected. We also favor the olive tree harvest.

The most advisable thing is to carry out periodic prunings of light and medium intensity, which allow keeping a young and productive olive grove. Performing excessively strong pruning, produces imbalances to the olive tree and reduces future harvest.

In our article about how to prune an olive tree we will consider the different existing pruning. From the guiding pruning of the olive seedlings to the pruning of renewal of the centenary olive trees.

We will take into account the differences between olive varieties, pruning tools, protective equipment, etc.

Time of pruning of the olive tree

The ideal pruning time for the olive tree is when the risk of frost is low. Preferably, before the winter rest leaves (when the average temperature exceeds 10ºC).

The leaves and branches are the shelter that the olive tree has to protect itself from the cold. When it freezes after an important pruning, the olive tree is vulnerable and damage occurs in the buds that must sprout to re-form the tree.

The olive pruning season is usually between February and April. Although, as we have said, it will depend on the risk of existing frost and the intensity with which we will prune. In this you will have a great influence of the climate of our area in the olive trees.

It is possible to start pruning before, if you only intend to do light or maintenance pruning. In this case, the olive tree retains a large part of its branches and the risk of frost damage is low. Instead, for renewal pruning, we must wait until later.

Personal protection tools and equipment

When working with chainsaws to prune olive trees, using protective equipment is essential to mitigate the consequences of an accident.
Anti-cut boots: With a price of between 50 and 300 euros these special chainsaw boots offer different levels of anti-cut protection. In addition, they are boots with steel toe. The branches and trunk of olive tree can weigh heavily and in their fall can impact with the foot. The use of boots with the steel tip helps to protect the foot from falling trunks and heavy branches. In addition, the soles of these boots have to provide a good grip to the operator.

Protective glasses: during the pruning of the olive wood chips and sawdust are generated that can impact with the eyes and are annoying. In addition to the protection involved, the use of glasses favors the productivity of the pruner.

Helmet: Although it will not protect us from much if we are careless and a large branch falls on us.
The hull is a good protection against small branches and to avoid painful bumps and croutons with the olive branches.

Earmuffs: important if you frequently work with gasoline chainsaws. If the current electric chainsaws are used, the noise is much lower and can be dispensed with.

Anti-cut gloves: Although, we must exercise caution when removing the hands from the chainsaw handle. The anti-cut gloves are a good measure of additional protection.

Leg warmers, bibs and pants: Without doubt one of the most frequent places of chainsaw cuts are the legs. It is important to protect your legs properly against chainsaw accidents.

A lot of caution: Despite good protection, we are not exempt from accidents. It is important to handle chainsaws carefully and follow the manufacturer’s recommendations.

What chainsaw to use to prune?

Depending on the size of the olive trees, it will be more interesting to use a chainsaw or another for .

It is interesting that the chainsaw makes smooth cuts, so thinner sprats and narrow chains is best.
For comfortable handling during the day, it is important that the chainsaw be as light as possible.

However, for the pruning of renewal we will need chainsaws of greater power and weight.

Sthil MS 150 TC-E: 1 Kw and 2.6 kg and 484 euros. Extremely light pruning chainsaw, ideal for thinning and maintenance of olive trees.

MS 193 T: 3.3 kg and 1.3 Kw of power and € 411. Suitable for pruning renewal.

Sthil MS 201 TC-M: 1.8 Kw, 3.7 kg and € 769. Necessary to cut large branches in centenary olive trees.

Pole chainsaws: For very tall olive trees its use may be necessary, although the ideal is to lower the branches. We have different battery possibilities, the Pellenc Selion model stands out, there are models on offer of Husqvarna, such as the 525P4S, now at a price of just € 599.

The ECHO brand also has very interesting models:

Ultralight chainsaw ECHO CS 2511 TES / 25: 1.1 Kw, 2.3 kg and available to buy for 465 €. Very interesting for maintenance and thinning pruning. They also have more powerful models at a competitive price.

In addition to chainsaws, in the trimming olive trees, the use of Japanese-cut saws is frequent to perform the pruning of olive tree maintenance. On the other hand, it is not very efficient and tools such as electric pruning shears are not usually used, more suitable in the cherry tree pruning and other fruit trees

How to prune olive trees recommended video

On the internet you can find many olive pruning videos. Each teacher has his booklet and we can find more or less suitable pruning for our purpose.

If we want to obtain profitability from the olive grove, we will need to perform a pruning aimed at improving production, control the expiration and favor the mechanized collection of olives.

In the article we will publish the pruning technique that we personally consider most appropriate. Which does not mean that with other types of pruning of the olive tree we cannot achieve good productions.

Olive tree pruning

The objectives of pruning olive tree formation is to have productive and mechanizable olive trees in the shortest possible time.

For this, it is important to respect and promote the growth of the olive tree. As we will see in the following video, it is recommended to use tutors to hold the olive tree at 1-1.2 meters above the ground. At that height we will form the olive tree. For three years, the twigs that come out below the restraint will eliminate them and on top we will not touch anything.

Once after three years of the plantation, we will have a very voluminous glass. At that time, we can begin to perform annual training pruning, light pruning to avoid slowing the growth of the olive tree.

Pruning decalogue of the modern olive grove:

Conference given by Mr. Daniel Pérez Mohedano.

Trimming olive trees at traditional olive grove

Watching the following videos, we can learn how to prune an olive tree in the traditional style of Jaén. In addition, the differences between training, maintenance and renovation pruning will be taken into account.

How to prune an old olive tree or centenary?

To learn to prune old or centenary olive trees, I recommend the videos made by Francisco Ibáñez about pruning olive trees in Jaén (SPAIN).

The production of one hectare of olive grove in Jaén is around 50% higher than the average. The climate is ideal for control of pests and diseases of the olive tree. In addition, the variety of Picual olive and the minute care taken in olive groves have a positive influence.

Francisco Ibáñez, is a professional pruner from Jaén, who clearly explains how to prune an olive tree step by step.

For the pruning of olive production, Francisco, takes into account the pruning of renovation (“hollow of life“) and of maintenance (“star hole”).

Pruning of renovation or “hollow of life”

For the renewal pruning, we must take into account that the olive tree consumes resources to maintain branches and leaves. The olive leaves are responsible for carrying out photosynthesis and represent the productive part of the tree.

As the branches become larger, the leaf / wood ratio is falling. When this happens, the olive tree allocates more resources than is convenient to maintain the wood, with the consequent loss of production.

The main branches of the olive tree grow and gain weight over time and eventually grow old. As we have seen, the accumulation of wood reduces productivity and it is advisable to cut these branches to form new ones.

A well-maintained olive branch can remain productive for more than 20 years, so the pruning of renewal can be done little by little. This avoids causing imbalances that negatively affect olive production. Since, as we have seen, when the olive trees are pruned in excess, production is lost and the harvest is encouraged.

Usually, the olive trees are cut down every 2 years, the usual thing in pruning renovation is to cut one of the main branches and wait 2-3 trimming olive trees to be formed to cut the next one. In some cases, when olive trees are very large or have not been renewed for a long time, simultaneous renewal of several main branches may be necessary.

Renewal pruning should be combined with thinning pruning to keep the rest of the olive tree in perfect condition.

In the how to prune an olive tree recommended video, you can see how important the progressive renewal of the main branches of the olive tree is and the thinning pruning for keep olive trees young and productive.

Make pruning that respects the volume of the olive tree, eliminating as much wood without damaging the productive capacity of the tree

Olive tree renovation
Pruning of the olive tree: formation of the outbreak
Selection and thinning of renewal branches

Pruning and maintenance of the olive tree

Illuminated olive leaves cannot make photosynthesis correctly and consume tree resources. Therefore, the thinning pruning is also necessary. One of the pillars or secrets of pruning the olive tree, is to favor the tree optimization of available resources.

Growing olive branches enter into competition with each other for light. Light is everything in olive production and it is counterproductive to have two branches occupying the same space.

During the pruning of the olive tree, in addition to improving the lighting, we will eliminate the branches that make harvesting difficult with olive picking machine. Pacifiers (vigorous and vertical branches) produce little olive, steal resources from the lower branches and make harvesting difficult.

In thinning pruning, vigorous and vertical branches (pacifiers) and those that are poorly positioned are removed, either shading or taking the place of another branch.

It is also used to eliminate weakened, dried olive branches or with tuberculosis and the weak stitches that we are not interested in maintaining.

Finally, thinning pruning olive trees should also serve to favor the growth of olive renewal shoots.

Rinsing pruning: removing pacifiers and crossed branches
Clarification and elimination of low branches

More videos of interest on pruning the olive tree

Pruning height reduction

Currently, in order to facilitate the collection, the most desirable is to start the formation of the olive tree at a height between chest and fly.

The current crop situation is not the same as during the last century and the trend is to lower the tree formation cross.

In the past, most of the olive was picked once fall to the ground In addition, treatments against the Repilo were not performed (in the lower part it concentrates more moisture and the branches are more susceptible to fungal infections). And it was plowed, so the tall branches favored agricultural labor.

Hojiblanca olive tree, how to prune an olive tree and maintenance

In this case, we see how Francisco informs us that we have two options. Renew it progressively, until it is completely recovered in 10-15 years or directly decapitate. For having such a high formation, I think that even if we lose a few years of production, a more drastic renovation is preferable.

Crushing and eliminating cut olive branches

Whether after pruning a super high density olive grove or old and centuries-old olive groves, we will surely have a good bunch of olive branches. To prevent the plague of the Olive borer prosper, we must eliminate these branches.

The fastest and most cost effective way to eliminate the ramón is to use a branch shredder. In addition, in this way we will be enriching the soil with organic matter.

If we do not have this option, we will have to ask for permits to make fire and burn the ramón. The main problem of burning is that at any time it can be banned and we will have to stop pruning.

As we have seen, it is interesting that the felling or pruning of the olive tree increases production, facilitates collection and helps control pests.

Which fertilizer is better for the olive tree?

Olive allergy: Protective measures

How many kg of olives can an olive give?

Fundamentals of pruning olive trees: training, maintenance and renovation.

Pruning Olives

SERIES 28 – Episode 24

Tino demonstrates how to successfully prune an olive tree

Pruning is a major part of growing olives and is the question most olive growers get asked.

The main goal is to open the olive tree up to improve airflow to help control pest and diseases and to allow fruit to ripen on the inside as well as the extents of the tree. This improves the overall yield.

  1. Gather all tools and safety equipment (including safety glasses).
  2. Prune on all sides of the olive tree, so walk around it to assess it before you start.
  3. Work from the base up. Starting at the base of the trunk, remove any suckering growth.
  4. Remove all growth from below the main fork of the olive tree.
  5. Remove any downward-facing branches.
  6. Thin out the remaining parts of the tree, cutting out any branches that are growing through others.
  7. On healthy trees, you won’t need to remove too much growth. If you cut back too hard, the result is the tree will grow more wood. If the tree is young or in poor condition, a hard cut can help bring it back to full vigour.


  • It’s better to start pruning olive trees when they are young as this will reduce the amount you will need to prune from the tree as it matures.
  • Olives are dual fruiters meaning they will have a year on, year off fruiting, but good light pruning annually will boost yields season after season.

Plant an olive tree in your garden

The history of the olive tree

My love affair with the olive began many years ago on the Ionian island of Paxos. I was captivated by this ancient and beautiful tree, brought to the island by the Venetians in the 15th century. The history of the olive, however, stretches back much further and it has become one of the most powerful symbols of the Ancient World.

The olive has been a part of everyday life in the eastern Mediterranean since the beginnings of civilisation more than 6,000 years ago, but began life as a sprawling, spiny shrub in the Levant (present day Syria and Lebanon). Thousands of years of selection and breeding have turned it into the productive tree we know today. The olive is now an integral part of the Mediterranean landscape and the most important economic plant in the region with 800 million trees in cultivation.

Botanical details of the olive tree

In spring the silvery canopy is covered in tiny flowers, like scattered stars, and the swaying branches protect a wealth of spring bulbs and wildflowers beneath, like cyclamen, poppies, field marigolds, purple viper’s bugloss and tassel hyacinths. During the long, hot Mediterranean summer the trees become heavy with fruit, ripening from green to black as the winter approaches.

Olive trees are extremely tough and can withstand searing heat, drought, fire and temperatures as low as -7°C for short periods. I really admire Mediterranean plants because they have adapted over thousands of years to cope with extreme climatic conditions, poor soils and the effects of fire. Many plants, including the olive have the capacity to regenerate from the base when damaged by fire – that’s how the olive came by its name ‘tree of eternity’.

Our olive grove in the Mediterranean Biome at Eden contains some old, gnarled specimens but these are mere juveniles compared with some you find in the Mediterranean region – many are more than 1,000 years old. Carbon dating of old specimens in Lebanon has revealed trees several thousand years old. I find it amazing that these trees have been producing fruit and giving oil since Biblical times!

Growing your own olive tree at home

This wonderful, evergreen tree will add a touch of the Mediterranean to any garden and when I’m working in the Biome I am frequently asked how to care for them. Here are some questions and answers:

Can I grow an olive tree successfully in a container?

Certainly, olives do well in containers. When you buy your tree, pot it on into a larger pot, preferably terracotta rather than plastic and use a loam-based compost like a John Innes no. 3. Add 20% horticultural grit to improve the drainage. Place in a sunny position, keep the soil moist during the growing season and feed with a balanced liquid fertiliser once a month. In winter you can reduce watering but don’t allow the compost to dry out completely.

Can I plant my olive tree outdoors?

Olive trees are tougher than you think but try and choose a sunny, sheltered, well-drained position and plant in spring, after the risk of frost has passed, but before the end of June to give the tree plenty of time to establish before the following winter.

Will my olive tree need pruning?

Olives grow very slowly so don’t require much pruning when young. Container-grown plants tend to grow quicker, so if the canopy becomes dense, remove some of the branches to let more light into the centre. Keep an eye on the shape of the tree and remove any dead or diseased wood.

Will my olive tree produce fruit?

Trees should begin producing fruit at about three to five years old. Most olive varieties are self-fertile but they are wind pollinated so will need to be outdoors when in flower. (We use a leaf-blower to pollinate our olive trees in the Biome!) Olives need a two-month cold spell in winter and fluctuating day/night temperatures to initiate flowering and fruiting, so keep container-grown trees in an unheated conservatory or greenhouse, with plenty of light. Olive trees flower and fruit on one-year-old wood.

What are the best cultivars for growing outdoors in the UK?

  • Arbequina is a small tree from Catalonia in northern Spain, with a weeping habit, ideal for small gardens.
  • Cipressino originated in Puglia, Italy, and is a vigorous tree with an upright habit. Its name comes from its similarity to the Italian cypress.
  • Leccino comes from Tuscany, Italy, and is a popular, widely planted variety with an open, pendulous habit. It is easy to grow and will tolerate a wide range of temperatures.
  • Picual is an extremely hardy and vigorous tree requiring regular pruning. It originates in Andalusia, Spain.
  • Pendolino is a small, compact, weeping form with architectural appeal from Tuscany, Italy. It will need a pollinator to provide fruit as unlike most olives, this one is self-sterile.

My favourite culinary tip

Try pot-roasting a chicken with plenty of black olives, sliced leeks and peppers, rosemary, lemon juice and olive oil.

Planting Your Olive Tree

Without exception, olive trees require well-drained soil. They can tolerate most soil types but unless the dampness at the roots can easily pass through they will slowly decline and die.

Don’t panic! Here a couple of ways to get around this easily.

  1. Dig the planting hole roughly the same size as the container. Remove the tree from its container and examine the roots, without disturbing the root ball as much as possible. Before planting, the tree should be well watered. When placing the tree in the hole try planting it slightly higher than ground level and leave about one inch of soil from the surrounding area on top of the root ball. Most experts have recommended that you should not add massive quantities of organic matter or soil mix, compost or fertiliser to the planting hole; it can create an artificially good growing medium. The tree must grow into the native soil; adding a good soil mix to a large hole even if mixed with native soil, may create a potted effect and could limit root growth out into the natural soil.

Do not add gravel – this could make a poor drainage problem excessively worse. If pliantly during spring or summer place a drip irrigation emitter next to the tree trunk.

  1. Alternatively, (and probably easier), If your tree is in a nursery container, turn it upside down and gently slide the tree out and separate the roots without overly disturbing the root ball. Place the tree in the new container and add more soil no deeper than it was in the original pot. Leave an inch between the soil and the rim of the container, so you’ll have room to water. Use a saucer underneath the container to catch any unwanted drips; allow space for ease drainage from the soil. If you are wondering when is best to water, stick your finger about an inch into the pot, if the soil feels dry, that’s when you should water.

Watering & Feeding Your Olive Tree

Olive trees are very drought tolerant. If you are looking for a minimal maintenance focal point for your garden, you have come to the right place. An olive tree could not take any less efforts. Once planted you never need to water the tree again, however the tree will not look as healthy as it could do with plenty of water. Although, if you are looking to grow the wonderful fruits and flowers that olive trees produce the soil must never be dry. During a dry winter you may need to water your olive tree . Don’t worry about adding any unwanted and unnecessary feed or fertiliser in winter. Olive trees are known to grow incredibly well in poor and even rocky soils. We do recommend a decent compost to treat your olive tree too.

If the chilly weather has led to your tree shedding some of its leaves, then a good water and feed will soon have it replacing them.

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