Olive trees are easy to grow.
Olive trees are easy to grow. Making olives or olive oil requires dedication and equipment. Some gardeners will prefer the fruitless variety to get “the look of olive trees” without the fruit.
Plant in full sun and away from paved areas to avoid stains from fallen ripe fruit.
There are many factors to consider when selecting the planting location. Olives thrive in hot, dry summers, but also grow in coastal regions. Olives grow well in well drained soil where winter temperatures do not drop below 22°-25°F (green fruit will be damaged at 32°F). Conversely, average winter temperatures above 50°F will inhibit fruiting. Hot dry winds can damage flowers and cause immature fruit to drop. Plant in full sun and away from paved areas to avoid stains from fallen ripe fruit. Pollinator trees will increase yields, so for serious harvest, plant more than one variety.
In California, monthly deep watering of trees is adequate, once trees are established.
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 survive extended dry periods.
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.
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.
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.