Learn which plants thrive in your Hardiness Zone with our new interactive map!

How to Plant an Olive Tree From a Pit

By Meg Butler ; Updated September 21, 2017
Only picked, not canned, olive pits can be planted

Olive trees are native to the Mediterranean. During the colonial period, the Spanish brought the easy-to-grow olive tree first to Mexico and later to California and South America. The olive tree is quite adaptable when it comes to soil. It grows in sandy, loamy or clay soil. Acidic, neutral or basic soil is fine as long as it is well drained. The olive tree is also quite drought tolerant. But the olive tree is absolutely uncompromising when it comes to its temperature needs. Only plant your olive tree in areas where others have successfully grown olives before. Or contact your local county's Extension Office to make sure olive trees are compatible with your climate.

Take a sample of the soil from the intended planting site by filling a cup from soil 6 inches deep. Take the sample to your local Extension Office for testing. The test will indicate how much fertilizer your planting area needs to successfully grow olive trees.

Spread the fertilizer over the planting site. Then use a hand tiller or shovel to mix it into the soil to a depth of 1 foot. Once the soil is loosened and mixed well, smooth over the planting area with a rake.

Harvest seed olives from the tree after they ripen but before they turn black. This will be between between September and November, depending on the cultivar.

Use your hands to strip the olive's flesh away to reveal the pit inside.

Use a hammer to crack the olive pit.

Soak the olive pit in water at room temperature for 24 hours.

Fill a shallow tray with moistened sand and plant the olive pits deep enough to just cover them in sand.

Store the tray in the refrigerator for 30 days. Keep the soil moist by adding a few drops of water as needed.

Plant the olive pit at a depth that is three times its diameter and then water. The seed should germinate within three months.


Things You Will Need

  • Shovel or hand tiller
  • Fertilizer


  • Start with many more olives than you think you will need. There are many points of failure along the way.

About the Author


Based in Houston, Texas, Meg Butler is a professional farmer, house flipper and landscaper. When not busy learning about homes and appliances she's sharing that knowledge. Butler began blogging, editing and writing in 2000. Her work has appered in the "Houston Press" and several other publications. She has an A.A. in journalism and a B.A. in history from New York University.