How to Grow an Olive Tree
Olive trees have been grown in the Mediterranean for thousands of years and have supplied their growers with olives, olive oil and beauty. Olive trees grow in a wide variety of climatic conditions and will grow well in any area with hot, dry summers and mild winters. For those gardeners with harsh winter conditions, olive trees can be grown in containers and brought indoors for the winter. With some basic regular care, your olive tree can give you many years of pleasure.
Determine the best location for planting the olive tree. Whether planting in a movable container or in a permanent location in the landscape, the tree will require at least seven hours of direct sunlight a day, preferably on the east or south side of the house. If planting in the ground, ensure that that the area has adequate drainage and that the soil is at least average, not containing an abundance or sand or clay.
Water the rooted olive tree cutting in its original container. The root ball should be thoroughly moist before transplanting. Allow the water to soak the roots for at least 30 minutes before planting.
Dig a hole at least 3 feet wide and 2 feet deep. Use a garden fork to loosen the soil around the sides of the hole to ensure that the roots of the tree will be able to grow out into the surrounding soil. Refill the hole with the loosened soil and plant the tree in the middle of the hole at the same level as it was in the container. Tamp the soil down firmly around the roots of the tree. Do not use any fertilizer except for the initial compost as the roots should expand out into the surrounding soil to seek out fertility.
Sprinkle compost over the entire planted area to a depth of 1 inch. The nutrients in the compost will leach into the soil slowly when watered. Cover the planted area with mulch to keep weed growth down.
Water the olive tree using at least 1 gallon of water for a thorough soaking. Continue to water every day it doesn't rain until the transplant is established, approximately one month. Don't stake the tree unless it is in danger of falling over. This will produce a stronger trunk.
Water the olive tree thoroughly once a month after the first month. Watering it more often will produce weak, shallow roots.
Prune the tree lightly in the first four years, removing only branches that are growing towards the center of the tree. This helps the tree to "open up" and allow sunlight access to the fruit. Olive trees will begin producing fruit in the fourth or fifth year if the tree has long, hot summers and mild winters. The fruit can be harvested and pressed to make olive oil.
- Garden fork
- Chipped wood or rubber mulch