Growing Olives Background

Growing Olives


The ideal location for in-ground and container growing

Olive trees are an excellent choice for both in the ground and in container growing. These
highly adaptable trees will tolerate a variety of soil types including poor, rocky soils. Choose a
location with at least 8 to 10 hours of sunlight and use a well-draining soil mix to amend your
native soil or plant your potted olive tree. If you live in a location with low temperatures lower
than 15°F then you will want to grow your olive tree in a container that can be moved to a
protected area during the winter.


Plant in full sun and away from paved areas to avoid stains from fallen ripe fruit.

To plant your Olive tree in the ground, dig a hole deep enough to cover the root ball. We
recommend digging a hole in a cone shape and planting the tree to the center of the cone. If
your location has heavy clay soil create a mound about 12” above the native soil line with a
better draining soil mix of compost and mulch. At the center of the mound, dig a coneshaped hole and plant your tree.

For container growing, you will want to create a soil mix that is 2/3 premium potting soil and
1/3 fine mulch to increase drainage.
When transplanting check for roots collecting at the bottom of the pot. Gently loosen up the
roots at the bottom to help them quickly extend into the surrounding soil.

Tamp (pack) down soil several times while backfilling the hole to avoid air pockets. After
planting, water the tree to settle the soil firmly around the roots. Make a basin for future


In California, monthly deep watering of trees is adequate, once trees are established.

Because of the small tough leaves and slow transpiration rate of olive trees, they can survive extended dry periods.  Generally, ensure that your olive trees receive a deep watering once every 7-10 days during dry spells, providing enough moisture to reach the tree's root zone. However, monitor the soil moisture to avoid overwatering, which can lead to root rot. To determine when to water, check the top few inches of soil; if it feels dry, it's time to water. Applying water slowly near the tree's base helps it penetrate deeply. Mulching around the tree can aid in moisture retention. Remember, the watering frequency might vary based on climate and soil conditions, so observing the tree's response is key to adjusting the watering schedule for optimal growth.


Pruning regulates fruit production and shapes the tree for easier harvest.

Many olive varieties will naturally reach 30 feet in height. Exceptions are Arbequina and Kalamata, which remain smaller. Avoid pruning during the rainy season. Olive trees will tolerate radical pruning, so it is relatively easy to keep them at the desired height. Pruning regulates fruit production and shapes the tree for easier harvest. Fruit is generally borne on the previous year's growth. Many farmers are now using a trellis system for commercial plantings.

Fertilizing with nitrogen from commercial or organic sources is beneficial for fruit production. Farmers apply fertilizer long before flowers form so trees adsorb the nitrogen before fruit set. 

Pest Control

Olive trees have fewer pests than other fruit trees.

Olive trees have fewer pests than other fruit trees. Biological control with natural enemies is preferred over conventional pesticides, because olive oil will adsorb the odor of chemicals. 

The Olive Fruit Fly can cause serious damage to home growers and orchardists alike. Native
to Eastern Africa, the Olive Fruit Fly has spread all over the Mediterranean and even the US.
This destructive fly not only feeds exclusively on olive fruits but even lay their eggs into them.
This causes the fruit to rot and allows entry to other microorganisms.

There are a few methods used to control the fly, first is sanitation and removing the old fruit
remaining on the tree at the end of the season. Organically Acceptable methods include the
use of GF-120 Naturalyte Fruit Fly Bait (Spinosad) which kills the adult flies and sprays of
kaolin clay which acts as a deterrent.


Olive fruit can be harvested green or later for processing for table olives.

Olive fruit can be harvested green or later for processing for table olives. Oil can be squeezed from freshly picked crushed fruit. Both of these endeavors require equipment, time and a sizeable volume of fruit.

Indoor Growing

Olive trees make beautiful decorative/ornamental trees for indoor growing.

Olive trees make beautiful decorative/ornamental trees for indoor growing as well. Indoor
olive trees love the full sun so a South/ Southwest facing window would be ideal for providing
adequate lighting. Avoid placing your newly potted Olive tree near a heat vent as this has the
potential to cook your tree when in use. Regular feeding will be a crucial part of your growing
experience, but a monthly dose of Romeo Plant Food should be all your tree needs to stay
nice and green year-round. Our Premium Size olive trees shift perfectly into our Decorative
Planter Tree Care Kits which make it even easier to plant, feed and protect your new olive
tree. keep in mind that Olive trees are drought tolerant and don't require a lot of water.
Always check the soil for moisture prior to watering and only water once the soil is dry.