How to Plant and Grow an Olive Tree at Home

Olive trees produce olives, those tasty morsels many of us love to eat on pizzas, salads, and as snacks. Planting and growing an olive tree at home is not hard, as long as you live in the right climate zone and take some time to care for the tree by fertilizing, watering, and pruning at the right time.


What planting zones to olive trees grow in?

Olive trees come from the warm climates of the Mediterranean and Near East, and they need a climate with warm, dry summers and wet, but not too cold, winters found in USDA planting zones 8 to 11.

What is the best time of year to plant an olive tree?

While spring is the best time for planting olive trees, you can also put them in the ground in fall and even during the summer, as long as the temperature is not too hot.

What kind of site and soil does an olive tree need?

Olive trees do best with soil that is neutral to slightly alkaline with a pH level between 7 and 8. They need well-drained soil and as much sun as possible to thrive.

Do olive trees need much water?

The fact that olive trees are native to hot, dry climates might make you think they do not need much water, but this is not true. Olive trees need regular watering during hot, dry weather, or they are unlikely to produce fruit.

How long until an olive tree produces fruit?

A few cultivars produce fruit after three years, including:

  • Arbequina
  • Koroneiki

These cultivars are also self-fertile, meaning you do not need to plant other trees of a different variety for good pollination. Most olive tree varieties take between five and twelve years before they produce a crop of olives and many require a pollinator of a different variety to set fruit.

How long do olive trees live?

The oldest know, living olive tree is over 3,000 years old, and when well-cared for, olive trees often live and produce fruit for many centuries.

Do olive trees need pruning?

Yes. Pruning is needed for vigorous growth.

How and when do you fertilize an olive tree?

Fertilize olive trees in spring before they flower, or wait until after August to apply fertilizers. Olive trees need nitrogen fertilizer for a good fruit crop. A yearly application of about 50 pounds (23 kilograms) of high-quality compost is usually sufficient.

What pests and diseases are common on olive trees?

Olive trees are fairly resistant to pests, but there are a few which can become a problem, including:

  • Olive fruit fly
  • Nematodes
  • Scale
  • Leaf spot
  • Verticillium wilt

The best way of preventing diseases and pests in olive trees is to care for it properly and keep it growing vigorously.