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Olive trees are great not only as fruit tree options but also as a tree in the garden that attracts birds. The fruiting olives are Mediterranean in origin but we also have the indigenous Wild Olive – Olea Africana in South Africa. Olives add a great deal to the landscape growing in most soil conditions, their silver foliage is a great foil to bright greens and red foliage. The Olive branch it is the symbol of peace and it is also a symbol of strength and survival with the hard wood of the tree being able to withstand a variety of conditions. Although the birds love the fruit it is possible to get some for yourself off the trees and if you don’t want to harvest the fruit looks attractive on the tree too.

We sell two of the most popular and best suited to our climate fruiting varieties. For green olives we recommend Spanish Queen and for Black Olives the best variety by far is Mission.

Both varieties are self-pollinating but for more fruit planting two or more is best, as cross pollination will increase the amount of fruit. Olive trees are most productive in with hot, dry summers and milder winter weather and while olive trees are astoundingly tolerant of a wide range of soil conditions, they don't like wet feet.

 

Growing olive trees.

 

 

To ensure you give your olive tree the best possible start to life, just follow these tips:

 

 

 

1. Plant them in the sunniest position possible, ideally north or west facing.

2. Plant in free-draining soil that will not become waterlogged during the wetter parts of the year. Plant into a hole that is wider than deeper and include compost and Bone Meal for strong root development.

3. Olive trees can be easily pruned to maintain the size and habit required. We recommend that light, formative pruning is undertaken in mid-spring with heavier trimming in early to mid-summer. Like many Mediterranean trees, olives need some heat and recovery time to heal wounds before the dormant winter period.

4. Feed your olive tree with a high Nitrogen fertiliser such as Nitrosol or Bounce Back through the summer months.

Container grown olives

Olives do exceptionally well in containers provided they have a wide opening and that there is sufficient drainage. Use only potting soil in the container to plant with as this will aid with the drainage later. The container should be in a spot where it receives at least five or six hours a day of full sun. Fertilise the potted olive every month through summer and early autumn and then not through mid-winter. Prune the olive after the spring buds are through and have turned into leaves. Clipping the ends will encourage a full topiary to develop. The only thing to watch out for is too much watering as they need very little in a container and keep a watch for Scale insects which sit under the leaves and on the soft stems of the plant.

Indigenous olive trees

The indigenous olive is also known as the Wild Olive. Slower growing than the fruiting olives they grow as a good screening plant in the garden. Hardy and water wise they can also be shaped into a topiary shape. Don't plant it too close to walls or swimming pools as the roots are surface roots and can be a problem if the tree size is not controlled. A neatly shaped evergreen tree with a dense spreading crown with leaves that are a grey-green to dark-green makes them ideal as a shade tree option as well. Sprays of tiny, lightly scented white to greenish flowers are followed by small fleshy fruits which ripen purple-black and attract a wide variety of garden birds.