Olea europaea. A gnarled olive tree. A clambering grape vine. Caper bushes spilling down the hill. An olive tree, just one, evokes memorable landscapes from Andalusia eastward to the Levant.
Full sun and good drainage required. Expect harvestable crops in about three years. The first fruits are almost all pit and no meat and it's best to remove them, although few people can bring themselves to do it. You must process olives within a few days of harvesting, whether for oil or table, or they'll start to decompose and the end result will be inferior. Never use olives that have fallen off the tree when curing or pressing.
Olive trees bear their fruit on one year old shoots. To promote this growth, prune your trees in spring. You can pinch the branches of new trees or prune back branches of established trees. Olive trees won't bear fruit twice on the same wood, so remove bearing shoots from the previous year each spring.
If you want to enhance growth, be sure to fertilize well. Seaweed not only provides boron, which olives need, but it also helps trees survive cold weather. Well-aged manure, dolomitic lime and greensand provide an excellent top layer food source that will slowly and safely release nutrients to the trees.
In colder climates, grow olive trees in a pot that can be brought into a sun porch during the winter. Olive trees need at least 100 hours of temperatures below 50 degrees in the winter, so keep this requirement in mind when considering growing olive trees indoors. Zones 9-10 outdoors, where trees grow to about 25 feet. Please read varietal descriptions for pollenizer requirements. Fruit and new growth injured at 26 degrees, tree injured at 16 degrees.
A note on the olive fruit fly: it has established its self throughout California olive growing regions. You can control it organically by using Spinosad, but diligence is required.
A second note: olives prefer dry conditions and are prone to fungal disease in areas of high humidity, such as many areas of the Southeast. Thomas Jefferson, a great gardener, had his heart broken over his olive trees' intransigent refusal to produce a harvestable crop at Monticello.
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|Arbequina Olive Tree 4" x 9" pot|
These Arbequina trees are about 3' tall with developed branching and blooming as of February 2015. Self-fertile, just like the larger Arbequinas. Young olive trees grow quickly their first few seasons, and then decelerate to their typical slow growth rate. Grown in 4" x 9" containers. Non-organic.
|Arbequina Olive Tree 1 Gal|
Arbequina olive trees hail from Catalonia, not Tuscany, but they share the same excellent rustic qualities of the above varieties, including high adaptability to different climates and soils. Used for both oil and table olives, the fruit is small and rounded. Crop matures into black olives over a few weeks, so you have time to pick them. Tree is weeping, fairly compact and shorter than other varieties, and self-fertile. 3' tall, blooming and multi-branched as of February 2015. OUT OF STOCK UNTIL FALL 2015.
|Coratina Olive Tree 4" x 9" pot|
Trees about 3' tall,branching developing as of February 2015. See pollinization details below. Grown in 4" x 9" pots. Non-organic.
|Coratina Olive Tree 1 Gal|
A very adaptable olive tree from Puglia, the oil has a strong peppery flavor from its high polyphenol levels. Coratina olive trees grow faster and more erect than others, with gray-green leaves. Excellent choice for hot climates. Compatible olive tree pollenizers include Frantoio and Leccino. TEMPORARILY OUT OF STOCK.
|Frantoio Olive Tree 4" x 9" pot|
The primary varietal used in Tuscan oil production, the Frantoio olive tree is useful to the home gardener as well. This olive tree is self-fertile, meaning it doesn't require another variety to set fruit, but is also an excellent pollenizer to other olive trees. The Frantoio olive tree grows in semi-pendulous fashion, with dark green-gray leaves. The fruit also makes a good table olive after curing, with a slightly nutty flavor to the medium-sized fruit. Perfect for container planting with silver thyme and oregano. These plants are about 2' tall, not as large as photo as of November 2014. Grown in 4" x 9" pots. Non-organic. TEMPORARILY OUT OF STOCK.
|Picual Olive Tree 4" x 9" pot|
Like its Spanish brethren Arbequina, the Picual olive tree is fairly cold hardy and bears prodigiously at an early age. Self-fertile but bears bigger crops, like most olives, with another variety. A good pollenizer for Picual is Manzanillo. Vigorous grower, leaves more green than silver, has more formal shape than other varieties. Popular for table and oil in Spain. Grown in 4" x 9" pots. Non-organic. As of January 2015, plants are developing branches on 2' trees.
|Koroneiki Olive Tree 4" x 9" pot|
Koroneiki trees have dominated Greek olive groves since Homer wrote The Odyssey and no doubt dipped bread into the peppery oil we still enjoy thousands of years later. Koroneiki olives are smaller than other varieties, matching the compact growth pattern of the tree. Small, thick leaves. Oil has very high oleic acid content. One of the more tender varieties. Self-fertile. As of May 2015 trees are about 3' tall. Grown in 4" x 9" containers. Non-organic.
|Leccino Olive Tree 4" x 9" pot|
Known for its ability to withstand more cold than the sensitive Frantoio, the Leccino also offers great disease resistance. Its vigorous growth habit means this smaller tree will catch up with the 1 gal tree within a year or two. About 3' tall and branching. Grown in 4" x 9" pots. Non-organic. TEMPORARILY OUT OF STOCK.
|Leccino Olive Tree|
Oil from the Leccino olive tree is more delicate than the Frantoio, and the small to medium fruit is also used for table olives. The olives ripen into black ovals practically all at once, so be prepared. The Leccino olive tree is a vigorous grower, with gray leaves and a graceful airy habit. Compatible olive tree pollenizers include Pendolino, Maurino, Picholine and Frantoio. As of April 2015, trees are 2.5' tall, narrow caliper, much smaller than photo. Grown in 1 gal pots.
|Manzanillo Olive Tree|
Manzanillo olive trees provide one of the earliest harvests of any variety, usually in September. And oh what great table olives they are. Apple shaped drupes release the pits easily and the flesh to pit ratio is high, making for superb eating. Self-fertile, although you'll get more fruit with Picual as a pollinizer. Grown in 4" x 9" pots, trees are 2-3' tall and branching as of February 2015. Grown in 4" x 9" pots. Non-organic. OUT OF STOCK UNTIL 2016.
|Maurino Olive Tree 1 Gal|
An excellent choice for coastal areas, Maurino olive trees produce a peppery and fruity oil. This olive tree is a compact grower, slightly weeping, with gray-green leaves tinted tan on the underside. It needs pollenizers. Compatible olive tree pollenizers include Pendolino, Leccino and Frantoio. Grown in 1 gal containers. TEMPORARILY OUT OF STOCK.
|Pendolino 4" x 9" Pot|
These Pendolino trees are very robust as of February 2015, over 3.5' tall with a hefty trunk and well-developed branching. Pendolino trees would be beautiful on any summer terrace in a terra cotta pot with silver dichondra tumbling over the edge. Read a full description of this variety below. Grown in 4" x 9" pots. Non-organic.
|Pendolino Olive Tree 1 Gal|
This weeping olive tree is slow growing but well worth the wait. In fact, to see this olive tree in the gloaming, its narrow leaves backlit like slivers of a silver sun, is a heart-pounding experience. Pendolino olive trees are partially self-fertile, but you need pollenizers if you want a large fruit crop. Compatible olive tree pollenizers include Leccino and Maurino. Pendolino olive trees are used extensively as pollinizers in large olive tree groves. The fruit makes small but delicious green and black table olives as well. Trees as of February 2015 are smaller than photo. TEMPORARILY OUT OF STOCK.