Gardening
in Tucson, Phoenix,
Arizona and California

Gardening in Tucson, Phoenix, Arizona and California

while line Back to Plant List
while line Back to Growing Fruit and Berries

Growing Olives: Olea europaea

social icons Facebook Twitter Pinterest Instagram

Overview
A member of the ash / jasmine / privet / lilac family. The Olea genus contains about 40 species, of which the most important is the commercially grown olive. Olea europaea has hundreds of cultivars and is grown around the world.

Description
Form: A single or multi-trunked large shrub or tree.
Lifespan: 300-600 years.
Leaf retention: Evergreen.
Growth rate: Slow to moderate.
Mature Size: 30' high and wide.
Flowers: Small, clustered, creamy-white. Pollen causes severe allergies. Fruitless varieties produce less pollen and little or no fruit.
Bloom: Spring.
Self-fruitful: Yes.
Years before fruiting: 4.
Fruit: Oil-bearing, bitter olives.
Months for fruit to ripen: 6-8. Olives are mature when they reach their full color, whether red, purple or black. At this time they are ready to drop from the tree.
Storage after harvest: Olives must be cured and are not edible until the process is complete.
Leaves: Lance-shaped, narrow, to 3" long, thick, gray-green on top, lighter underneath. Provides dense shade.
Stems: No thorns. Gray, bumpy, contorted, gnarled trunk.
Roots: Shallow roots can heave walkways and trip pedestrians.
Wildlife: Fruit attracts birds. Rabbits may eat bark, especially on young trees, and greatly harm the tree.
Toxic / Danger: Olives must be cured, a long process, to be edible.
Origin: Eastern Mediterranean. Commercially cultivated 5000 years ago.

Cultivation and Uses
USDA hardiness zones: 9-11 for fruit-bearing trees. 8-11 for fruitless cultivars.
Chill hours: 200-300. For olives, temperatures above 32°F and below 55°F accumulate chill hours in winter.
Heat tolerant: Yes.
Sun: Full sun.
Drought tolerant: Yes.
Water once established: Once or twice a month in warm months.
Soil: Well drained, dry, low organic content, tolerates pH 5.6-8.5 (acidic to alkaline), but pH 6.6-7.5 (neutral) considered ideal. Avoid locations near frequently irrigated lawns or plants.
Fertilize: Olive trees are better adapted to poor soil than any other fruit tree and seldom suffer nutritional deficiencies. In residential settings, fertilization is unnecessary, even for a good fruit crop. Water and weeding are the most important aspects of olive tree care.
Prune: In spring, in dry weather, after flowers appear, prune to shape. Fruit is produced at the tips of previous year's growth, so be careful. Remove small fruit within 3 weeks of flowering so that two to three fruit are left per foot of branch. This produces larger fruit.
Litter: High due to fruit drop. Fruit stains concrete.
Propagation: Seed or cuttings.
Uses: Ornamental, fruit production. Cultivated for more than 5000 years.

Comments
Some municipalities allow only sterile, fruitless cultivars in order to reduce pollen levels. Hundreds of fruit-bearing cultivars are available. The picture of the entire tree shows the fruitless cultivar 'Swan Hill'.



Do you have additional information or a different experience for this plant that you would like to share?
Email info@gardenoracle.com. All contributions are welcome and appreciated.
Olive: Olea europaea - fruit

Olive: Olea europaea


copyright © GardenOracle.com