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

How to Grow Russian Olive Trees

By Melody Dawn ; Updated September 21, 2017
Olives are often cultivated for their oil.

The Russian olive is a perennial, deciduous, thorny tree that can reach heights of up to 45 feet. It is native to west and central Asia. The flowers are highly fragrant, yellow in color and grow in clusters. The tree produces a grey-green pitted fruit that attracts many varieties of birds. Russian olive trees grow very quickly and are often seen as invasive. They choke out anything that grows near them, and once they have established they are hard to get rid of.

Purchase a Russian olive tree from your local nursery or propagate a new tree from a mature Russian olive tree. If you are trying to root your own tree you should choose a cutting that is approximately a foot long. Use a rooting hormone to promote growth and place the olive branch into a 6-inch pot that is filled with a good potting mix. The branch should be planted 4 inches into the soil. Keep the soil moist, but not soaking, until the roots have established.

Select a location to plant your Russian olive that is in full sun but away from sidewalks. The falling fruit can stain concrete.

Test the soil with a soil test kit before you plant your tree. The Russian olive prefers a pH of 8.5. If the pH is too low add 35 pounds of lime for every square foot of soil; if the pH is too high add 10 pounds of sulfur for every 1,000 square feet of soil.

Dig a hole for your Russian olive. The hole should be approximately 8 to 12 inches deep and 18 inches wide. The soil on the outside of the soil should be loosened to promote a good root system. Add a shovelful of organic compost into the hole and water it with 2 to 3 inches of water before you place your tree.

Place the tree in the center of the hole and use the original soil to refill the hole.

Drive a stake that is at least half as tall as the Russian olive tree. Use string to tie the tree to the stake to help give it strength while the roots are establishing.

Water the tree with 3 to 4 inches of water once a month. Olive trees generally can survive off rainwater and do well during dry periods.

Prune your olive tree in the early summer to achieve the desired shape. Remove any damaged or broken limbs.


Things You Will Need

  • Olive tree or branch
  • Potting mix
  • 6-inch pot
  • Pruning sheers
  • Organic compost

About the Author


Based in Atlanta, Melody Dawn has been writing business articles and blogs since 2004. Her work has appeared in the "Gainesville Times," "Player's Press" and "USA Today." She is also skilled in writing product descriptions and marketing materials. Dawn holds a Master of Business from Brenau University.