How to Cultivate Olive Trees


Olive trees are subtropical evergreen trees that typically grow 25 to 40 feet tall. They originate from the Mediterranean and parts of Africa and Asia. Growers usually train these trees when they are young to keep them at a certain height, making fruit easier to harvest. Olive trees survive outdoors down to USDA zone 8, where temperatures stay above 20 degrees Fahrenheit. At 10 degrees, they die down to the ground. Knowledge of how to plant this tree with help give you an attractive and fruitful addition to your landscape.

Step 1

Choose an area to plant your olive trees. They prefer full sun and well-drained soil. Any type will do, from sand to clay, as long as it is properly drained.

Step 2

Dig a hole for each tree with a spade at a depth the same height as the root ball and twice the width. Space holes 20 feet apart. Stand a tree in each hole and backfill the soil around the roots. Tamp down firmly around the tree for stability.

Step 3

Water deeply after planting and keep the soil moist until new growth appears. After that point water deeply when the soil dries slightly. This will allow the roots to grow strong.

Step 4

Fertilize the olive trees in December and in the spring after new growth appears. Split 1-and-1/2 to 2 pounds of nitrogen evenly between these two dates. Olive trees will pull all other needed nutrients from the soil.

Step 5

Pile up 1-and-1/2 feet of soil around the trunk of the tree in November. This will protect it from heavy temperature fluctuations. Remove the soil in March after the danger of frost passes.

Step 6

Prune the olive trees in early spring with pruning shears. Cut out dead, diseased, broken or unproductive branches to increase air flow through the canopy.

Things You'll Need

  • Spade Water Nitrogen Soil Pruning shears


  • UC Davis: Planting Olive Trees
  • Texas A&M University: Olives
  • University of Illinois Extension: Olives
Keywords: olive tree cultivation, planting olive trees, olive tree care

About this Author

Sarah Morse recently graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in English language and literature. She has been freelancing for three months and got her start writing for an environmental website.