How to Care for Olive Trees

Fruiting olive tree. image by getye1:


Olive trees, planted as an ornamental or for their edible fruits, prefer hot and dry summers. They thrive in coastal regions and in the sub-tropics, but you can grow them anywhere that has high summer temperatures. Frost tolerant after they reach maturity, they must be protected in the early years; a greenhouse or other sheltered area is necessary to protect young olive trees in winter. They are evergreen and can live for more than 100 years.

Step 1

Plant olive trees in large terracotta containers on wheels if the trees must be moved in winter. Choose well-draining, raised containers and line the inside with clay shards to avoid soil loss when watering.

Step 2

Plant in the ground where there is well-drained, mildly-fertile soil. Fill containers with loam compost and add three to four handfuls of sand or coarse rock to improve drainage.

Step 3

Choose an area with full, all-day sun to plant or site your containers. Choose areas with protection from high winds, as this will cause the fruit to drop prematurely.

Step 4

Water deeply once a month the first three years after planting. Water deeply during extended dry periods thereafter when there is very little or no natural rainfall.

Step 5

Trim young trees of all but five strong branches from the main shoot. Prune out any dead wood each year to encourage new shoots to form.

Step 6

Fertilize with a nitrogen-rich fertilizer before the flowers form to encourage healthy fruiting later. Use a liquid fertilizer every four weeks for container-grown trees.

Tips and Warnings

  • Avoid over fertilizing or highly fertile soil as this leads to lush vegetation but minimal fruiting. Do not site containers or trees near porches or walkways as dropping fruit permanently stains pavement.

Things You'll Need

  • Container
  • Clay shards
  • Compost
  • Sand
  • Pruning shears
  • Fertilizer


  • East of Eden
Keywords: olive tree care, fruiting trees, container gardening

About this Author

Jenny Harrington has been a freelance writer since 2006. Her published articles have appeared in various print and online publications. Previously, she owned her own business, selling handmade items online, wholesale and at crafts fairs. Harrington's specialties include small business information, crafting, decorating and gardening.

Photo by: getye1: