Requirements for Growing Black Olive Trees
The black olive tree (Bucida buceras) is a native to Central America that, despite its name, doesn't produce edible olives. That's not to say it's purposeless; landscapers and homeowners often grow the tree for ornamental purposes due to its attractive blue-green foliage. Provide the black olive tree with the growing environment it needs to thrive and become a mature element in your yard.
The black olive tree is a warm climate plant and cannot tolerate cold temperatures. Only attempt to grow the tree in USDA hardiness zones 10B through 11. These regions encompass southern California, parts of Hawaii and the southernmost tip of Florida.
The black olive tree tolerates partial shade but does best in full sunlight.
Any well-drained soil type can support the black olive tree's growth. The tree can handle a full range of soils, from moist clay to sandy loam, and can also tolerate varying levels of acidic or alkaline dirt.
The tree needs adequate space to spread unless it's being grown as a tightly-pruned hedge. A mature black olive tree can reach a height of up to 50 feet and a spread of 35 feet or more. Gardeners should watch for nearby structures, such as houses, garden sheds or utility poles, when selecting a site for a new black olive tree. Surface roots are rarely a problem for those worried about sidewalks or pipes encroaching, according to the University of Florida.
Landscapers prize the black olive tree for its extremely high level of drought tolerance. Watering needs vary by the specific area and soil type, but gardeners can use the tree's appearance to gauge water needs. Slight yellowing or wilting are signs of dehydration.
The University of Florida says that there are no major diseases and pests that afflict the black olive tree. If a tree is attacked by a pest or disease, gardeners should consult their cooperative extension service to help identify and resolve the specific issue.
- "Growing Trees from Seed: A Practical Guide to Growing Native Trees, Vines and Shrubs"; Henry Kock, et al.; 2008
- University of Florida: Bucida buceras