If you are looking for a small evergreen tree to add interest to your sunny garden a fruiting olive tree may be just the thing. Most olive trees grow 12 to 15 feet tall. (The Mission olive can grow up to 20 feet.) Olive trees tolerate poor soil and are very drought tolerant once established.They can be planted in the ground or grown in pots. Olives can be trimmed any way you like and make beautiful topiaries.
Olive trees originated in the mediterranean and are one of the worlds oldest cultivated trees. Because of their mediterranean origins, olives prefer long hot, dry summers and cool winters. This is almost perfect for our Gulf coast climate. Make sure to plant your olive in a raised bed or elevated area with good drainage. Olives do not like wet roots! After planting your olive make sure to water regularly the first growing season. Prune suckers and low growing branches in winter. Fertilize your tree in early spring and late summer if you would like good olive fruit production.
When your olive tree reaches 4 to 5 years old they will began producing olives. You can harvest your olives when they turn from dark green to light green in mid autumn or wait until early winter when they are firm and black.
There are several species of olive that will grow in our area. Here are the ones we carry: (8/1/2014)
Arbequina – Most Planted cultivar in Texas. Originates in Spain. Has good cold hardiness. Is self fertile. Grows 12 to 15 feet tall. Small fruit but oil is
very good and fruit can be brined.
Arbosana – Originates in Spain. Pollinated by Arbequina. Grows 12 to 15 feet so makes a good companion tree for Arbequina. Fruit can be pressed or preserved. Moderate cold tolerance.
Manzanilla – Originates in Spain. Highly planted in the US.Makes a good table olive. Most black olives are this type but can also be picked green or pressed.Has moderate cold tolerance. Benefits from pollination by Arbequina but will produce by itself. Grows to 15 feet.
Mission – Developed in the US. Good cold tolerance.Self polinating. Trees grow to 20 feet high. Fruit can be pressed or preserved for table olives.
Koroneiki – Originates in Greece. Is a small tree with small fruit. Not very cold tolerant. Primary oil variety for Greece.