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There's something about an olive tree . . . the promise of your own delicious olive crop, the appeal of "extending an olive branch" during devisive times, the long history of olive trees and their association with health and peace, and just the bushy appeal of these little silver-leaved trees. Whatever sparks your interest, here's how to care for your olive tree.
Choose a site in full sun. In warm regions, zones 8-10, feel free to plant outdoors. Consider that your mature olive will grow to 12 feet tall and about 10 feet across; select a site with appropriate space.
If you're growing your olive tree indoors, choose a sunny window - your tree need 8+ hours of sun daily. These trees originated in sunny Spain and love lots of light.
Outdoors, look for a site with soil that drains well. If there are still puddles several hours after a rain, scout out another spot. Loosen the soil to a depth of 12-15", turn in a bucket of compost before starting to plant and mix well.
If you're planting your olive in a large pot, use any good commercial potting soil. It's ideal to take your olive tree outdoors for the summer. If this is part of your plan, think about weight as you select a container for your tree.
Plant any time during the growing season. As with most plants, a transplanted olive tree will need regular watering outdoors for the first couple of weeks, especially if moved during summer's heat. Indoors, your tree may need a bit less moisture. Strive to keep the soil very slightly damp but not wet. Consistently wet soil encourages root rot.
Loosen the soil to 12-15” deep. Plant your tree so the soil level from the pot is even with the level in the planting hole, in other words, don't sink or raise the tree. When you remove the grower's pot, plant your tree as is, leaving the rootball intact. Do not wash the original soil off the roots before planting.
Olives need 1-2” of water a week from rain, irrigation or a combination of the two during the spring when they are actively growing, spring through fall. While olives are drought tolerant once established, they benefit from regular watering when first planted.
For olives planted outdoors, adding a winter mulch the first season will help mitigate temperature swings. Straw or bark chips work well. Keep the mulch 4-6" away from the tree to avoid having moisture held by the mulch promote disease on the tree's trunk. Olive trees typically go through a winter dormancy period where some leaves are shed and growth stalls. With spring warmth and longer days, fresh foliage will develop and the trees begin to actively grow again.
Light: Full sun
Soil: Average soil; enrich with compost
Depth: Plant container level with garden soil
Water: Average moisture
Uses: Delicious olives and olive oil
Tip: Home cured olives rival store-bought, anyday
They Start Out looking Like This:
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