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Updated : 21/9/2014

Black Olive Growing Requirements

Requirements for Growing Black Olive Trees

By Lonnie Gratz, eHow Contributor1

Olive trees are not hard to grow under the right conditions.

Olive trees have been a part of many cultures for thousands of years. The trees can live to be more than 500 years old. Olive trees are extremely tough, and their graceful appearance is eye-catching. These evergreen, slow-growing trees are often grown for their ornamental value as well as for their fruits.



There are more than 2,000 olive tree cultivars.

Olive trees are not fussy about their soil, but it must be well-drained. Olive trees originated in the Middle East, mainly in modern-day Syria and Egypt. Historically, they were grown in areas where nothing else seemed to grow. Hillsides were a prime location for olive trees, as were areas with poor soil or rocky areas. Do not plant your olive trees in highly fertile soil; too many nutrients will cause the tree to focus on root and foliage development, rather than producing a large harvest. The soil should be well-drained sandy loam or silt loam and have a pH between 6 and 8, with 6.5 being ideal.



Some dwarf cultivars can be grown in pots.

Olive trees prefer a warm dry climate, but also need a period of cold temperatures (less than 45 degrees Fahrenheit) for the flowers to develop. Temperatures that are too cold (below 15 degrees Fahrenheit) can kill an olive tree. Additionally, the fruits are sensitive and late frosts can ruin them. Olive trees require a long growing season for good fruit harvests. California's climate seems to be well suited to the olive tree. Ventura County is the largest olive-producing area in the United States. Some olive cultivars perform well in coastal regions of Florida and Texas.



Heavy fertilizing is not necessary for olive trees. They are hearty, and the small size of the foliage keeps the trees' needs to a minimum. Nitrogen can be added to the soil annually to increase the crop. Potassium can also be added in small amounts.



Most varieties of black olive trees are self-pollinating, but some require a pollinator in order to bear fruit. You will need to research your cultivar, because not every variety is compatible for pollination. Some of the more widely grown self-pollinating varieties include Kalamata, Sevillano and Mission.



Removing older branches during the winter will encourage new shoots to grow. Olive trees' fruits are produced on 1-year-old growth, mainly toward the edge of the trees' canopies, according to East of Eden Plants. Bonsai and potted cultivars will need regular pruning to keep the form and size of the trees suited to the environment.



While olive trees tolerate drought very well, they require ample watering to produce high yields of fruit and do not like wet or soggy soil. Constantly wet conditions can lead to tree or crown rot. DaVero Farms, a commercial grower of olives, recommends 5 to 6 gallons of water per tree every week for mature trees planted in sandy loam. Water requirements will be less for young trees and trees planted in soil with a high clay content. Drip irrigation is recommended for watering so that the trees receive an adequate and regulated supply.



1: Requirements for Growing Black Olive Trees | Accessed 26 July 2011

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