Olives are highly adaptable trees and can tolerate a variety of soil types but perform best in slightly alkaline soils. Good drainage is essential if your olive tree is to survive and thrive . Plant in full sun with at least 8 hours of sunshine.
Water deeply and regularly after planting until roots are established then reduce frequency. Deep and infrequent watering, like once a month, should be adequate in California once the trees are established.
A thick layer of an organic mulch will help conserve water and reduce weeds but do not allow the mulch to touch the trunk. The trunk base should be at least six inches clear of mulch to help eliminate root disease or rot.
Olive trees grown in containers will be smaller than a tree planted in the ground. Pruning or tip-pinching the branches will encourage more side growth and result in a shorter tree. Remove dead, damaged, or crossed branches and prune to maintain desired size and shape.
Olives will fruit on one-year old branches grown the previous year. Pruning these branches will reduce your fruit potential for the season but shaping your tree early on is important. In general, pruning should be minimal.
Olive trees are easy to grow but should not be planted near paved areas where the fallen ripe fruit will stain the surface and can be tracked indoors on shoes. If you want the look of the Olive tree but don’t want the messy fruit clean-up, consider buying an ornamental olive like the Semi-Fruitless Wilson Olive or the dwarf, non-fruiting, olive shrub, 'Little Ollie'.
If you want a bountiful harvest and are ready to buy your fruiting olive tree, consider the following factors when choosing the location to plant:
- Fruiting is best in areas where the average winter temperatures are 50℉ or colder. Hot winter temperatures will inhibit fruit production.
- Although the tree is cold hardy to 12℉, the green fruit will be damaged by cold temperatures at 32℉ or less.
- Wind, especially hot & dry winds, can cause young fruit to drop or damage the small flowers that develop into fruits; plant in a location that has protection from the wind.
- Self-pollinating olives do not need other varieties to produce fruit but you will get more fruit with another variety.