Instruction

How to Buy Olive Trees

Instruction

How to Buy Olive Trees

A Guide for Selecting Olive Trees for Purchase

Olive trees make beautiful additions to any property, whether they’re used to add a striking visual in a garden or planted in an orchard to produce olives for consumption. Use this guide as an aid in making your purchasing decisions for both landscape and commercial olive tree purchasing.

Choose Olive Tree Use

Landscape
Commercial

Landscape Use

Olive Tree Landscape Use

Olive trees can be highly versatile plants for a landscape. They may be planted to flank an entry way, along a loggia or walkway. They’re seen anchoring beautiful patios in the corners, or used as the focal point in the center of a courtyard. They adapt for container use, rock walls, kitchen gardens, hedges, single specimens, and even topiaries.

Landscape Criteria

Having established how your olive tree(s) will be used in the landscape, it’s time to review the conditions under which your tree will be growing. These factors include sunlight, soil, water, fruiting or non-fruiting cultivars, location and growth speed and size.

Click the ” + ” below to expand the selection.

Fruiting

Choose a non-fruiting olive tree cultivar when you don’t want to be harvesting (or cleaning up) olive fruit. This selection is most common along pathways overhanging flagstone or other surfaces with much foot traffic. Many love the beauty of an olive tree but don’t want the olives dropping in or around their outdoor pool. And some choose the fruitless olive tree for safety to reduce the possibilities of slip ‘n’ falls adjacent the tree. Example cultivars include Swan Hill, Wilsonii, Majestic Beauty and Little Ollie®. However, if you’re interested in cultivating a kitchen garden or a most crop of olive to eat or press into olive oil, you’ll need to delve more deeply into the many fruiting tree options to determine the best one(s) for you. Some of these trees include Arbequina, Cerignola, Manzanillo, Sevillano, Koroneiki and Kalamata, to name but a few.

Arbequina Olive Trees 24 inch box
Fruitless Olive Trees

Type

Some olive tree cultivars grow in the shape of a traditional tree, with a single trunk, topped by a leafy canopy like a Manzanillo. Other cultivars are available in multi-trunked specimens, such as Majestic Beauties and Kalamata. Still others develop and remain in bush or shrub shapes, like Little Ollie®.

Swan Hill Olive Tree in 48 inch box tall
Multi-trunked Ancient Olive Tree

Growth Speed & Size

Most olive trees grow at moderate speed and their final size can be carefully controlled via annual pruning. The non-fruiting Swan Hill cultivar can grow up to 2 feet per year, topping out at approximately 30 feet in height, with a canopy of 20 to 30 feet depending upon spacing and growing conditions. Coratinas may grow at a more vigorous rate. And Arbequina olive trees may grow to 40 feet tall if left unchecked in ideal growing conditions. Ancient olive trees have already reached maturity and will show the slowest growth rate annually. Speed of growth can be heavily dependent upon the size and maturity at which the tree is planted.

For those desiring an olive that remains at modest bush or shrub size under four feet tall, consider Little Ollie® Dwarf Olive, which remains very compact through maturity.

All olive cultivars’ growth rate and final size will be heavily affected by an assortment of growing conditions, including light exposure, soil, temperature and climate. Be sure to allow for adequate spacing on larger cultivars, keeping trees a minimum of 10 feet from walls and buildings..

How long do you have to wait for you tree to achieve a size you’re comfortable with? Saplings in 1- to 3- gallon containers (under $100) may take several years to grow to shoulder or head height. Larger specimens, such as 5- to 15- gallon trees ($100s) may begin at only a few feet in height but then show rapid growth once planted to achieve 8- to 10- feet in height within a few years. Mature specimens, available in 24″ to 60″ boxes or larger (running in the $1,000s) may approximate the final size desired and show the slowest growth rate, depending upon conditions.

Fruiting 15 gallon olive trees
Arbequina Olive Trees 24 inch box
Ancient Olive Tree

Color & Canopy

Olive tree cultivars may vary significantly in leaf color, shape and density. Additionally, some olive tree cultivar branches create a more airy canopy, such as the  Frantoio, and others produce “weeping” branches, like Pendolino. Leaf color may range from a leathery gray color in the Leccino olive tree, to the dark green of Swan Hill. The Arbequina olive even offers a more silvery coloring which catches the light beautifully.

A final recommendation when planning for canopy size and location: Ensure your tree’s canopy will be clear of any power lines overhead. While regular pruning can ensure this safety matter is well under control, it requires regular monitoring and activity.

Olives on Olive Tree Branches
Swan Hill Olive Tree

Climate Conditions

Olive trees thrive on the Mediterranean climate with long hours of sunlight. Most thrive on hot temperatures and are hardy down 20 to 30 °F. Some do quite well in cooler temps such as the Leccino olive. Overall, they do well in a wide range of temperatures from the ocean coast to the mountains in lower elevations. As sun lovers, olive trees do dramatically less well indoors and with less sunlight, even with exposure to direct sun through a skylight.

Water & Soil

While  some olive cultivars may thrive in desert-like climates with lots of sun, they still require adequate water. They may thrive in rocky, dry soils provided they can reach a water source, particularly while they are still establishing themselves for a few years after planting.

Soils do not have to be heavily nutrient rich. Overall, well-drained, nutrient poor soil is adequate. Light  or sandy loam all the way to heavy, clay soils will all be acceptable. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. However, they do not like their roots to remain in boggy or standing water.

Now that you’ve reviewed the many options for choosing the right cultivar(s) for your landscaping project, we recommend a few, final tips to ensure your olive tree purchase is fun and successful:

  • Ask for help at your local nursery, describing the criteria you wish to fill for your landscape.
  • Inspect your purchase options. Ensure leaves look healthy and not curled, brown or withering. Olive trees aren’t deciduous and remain lush in canopy throughout the year. Any signs of blight, such as brown or black spots, leaf curl or dropped leaves, may indicate poor health.
  • For larger specimens, consider enlarging your geographic shopping area. Olive trees are very hardy and transport well. If you don’t find the specimens you are looking for locally, shop online and consider using the seller’s transportation and installation services. Full service olive tree farms, such as Olives Unlimited, are equipped with the necessary, large earth moving equipment to easily transport and install fully mature olive trees up to 30 or 40 feet tall.
  • Ask for the seller’s warranty information. Reputable sellers will offer guarantees on the health of the plant as well as on transportation and installation services to further protect your investment.

Want more help on buying an olive tree (or two)? Just contact us. Or, scroll down to read more about buying olive trees for commercial, agricultural purposes.

How can we help you?

Call our Mobile Now

Click to Call 707.933.6327

Let us help you find your olive tree solution quickly and efficiently. Whether or not you need help selecting the right tree, diagnosing a problem with an existing olive tree, or arranging a tree installation throughout California, we’re happy to help you out.

Commercial Agricultural Use

Olive Tree Commercial Use

Olive trees may be used for commercial, agricultural purposes to harvest olives for consumption or to press into olive oil. Today, there is high demand for healthy products, with olives and olive oil at the top of the demand chart for their rich flavors and extensive health benefits.

Commercial & Agricultural Criteria

Having established how your olive tree(s) will be used for commercial purposes, it’s time to review the conditions under which your trees will be growing. These factors include sunlight, soil, water, location and overall climate conditions.

Food or Olive Oil?

Whether you’re interested in developing a large orchard or planning a small grove for a handful of trees, first establish your goals for the fruit production of those trees: Curing olives for food? Pressing olives for oil? Both?

In the case of cured olives, there are numerous factors to consider in your decision on the appropriate cultivars for your project:

  • What flavors and aromatics do you want in your olives? Some are sweeter than others, such as Pendolino. Some cultivars are more fruity in flavor, while others more herbal or even pungent.
  • Is shelf life an important factor to you? If canning, you’ll want to ensure your olives have durable shelf life unless you plan early consumption.
  • What production levels do you require? Some cultivars’ drupe (the fruit) have large pits, others are small. Further, different cultivars display a variety of pit-to-pulp ratio, affecting overall production. Manzanillo is highly sought after for its high volume of oil production. On the other hand, Sevillano is prized for its fruity, but mild oil, even though its production is lower in volume.
  • How long can you wait for maturity? Olive trees bear fruit only once a year in the fall. For high-density orchard plantings, it’s not unusual to wait at least 3 to 5 years (for Arbequina and Koroneiki) for trees to begin bearing fruit. The majority of cultivars begin bearing fruit between 5 and 12 years. Be sure to plan for your trees maturation period before expecting to reap the fruit…literally.

Size & Spacing

Consult with an expert orchard planner when developing high-density plantings. Arbequina and Koroneiki are highly suited to high-density orchards. Additionally, it is recommended to grow at least 3 cultivars for optimum pollination.

Most importantly in spacing, pick an olive tree cultivar that will fit in the available spaces of your property without being less than 30% of its height from other objects. As an example, an olive tree that will grow to 30 feet in height should be at least 10 feet from adjacent trees or obstacles.

Older orchards are often seen with spacing up to 30 x 30. But newer orchards can be seen with density spacing as tight as 7 x 7. Additionally, you may choose to begin with a high-density orchard that is thinned as the trees mature, leaving adequate sunlight and reduced competition among trees to support ideal growing conditions.

Pollinators

Olive trees are either self-pollinating or cross-pollinating. Self-pollinating trees do not require any agent to occur. However, cross-pollination between trees requires wind and cultivars that are compatible. For example, to increase the yields of your orchard, consider planting Pendolino and Leccino varieties, which are known to help boost one another’s production.

Further, researchers and olive orchard managers all may make recommendations as to the ratio of one variety cultivar to plant vs. a second or third variety to grow in your orchard. Some may suggest planting 3 of any one cultivar to 1 of another cultivar. Review your options carefully before making your purchases.

Finally, ensure your choice(s) in olive tree varieties takes into consideration your orchard’s geographic climate conditions, soil type and water source. View these criteria in our Landscape criteria options.

Now that you’ve reviewed the many options for choosing the right cultivar(s) for your commercial olive tree project, we recommend a few, final tips to ensure your purchase is successful:

  • Ask for help at your local nursery, describing the characteristics you’re looking for. Research the many options available to you to fit your goals. Consult experts who know your geographic area and climate conditions well.
  • When selecting your saplings or trees, inspect them carefully: Ensure leaves look healthy and not curled, brown or withering. Olive trees aren’t deciduous and remain lush in canopy throughout the year. Any signs of blight, such as brown or black spots, leaf curl or dropped leaves, may indicate poor health.
  • For larger specimens, consider enlarging your geographic shopping area. Olive trees are very hardy and transport well. If you don’t find the specimens you are looking for locally, shop online and consider using the seller’s transportation and installation services. Full service olive tree farms, such as Olives Unlimited, are equipped with the necessary, large earth moving equipment to easily transport and install fully mature olive trees up to 30 or 40 feet tall.
  • Ask for the seller’s warranty information. Reputable sellers will offer guarantees on the health of the plant as well as on transportation and installation services to further protect your investment.

Olive trees, in many varieties, have been around for thousands of years (and some have even lived that long!). Choosing the right cultivar, size and shape may feel overwhelming initially. Use this guide to help you narrow down your options and fine tune your composition to best suit your landscape or commercial planting project.

We have been growing, transporting, installing and caring for olive trees, in many varieties, for decades. We’d be happy to help you determine which trees, in what sizes and cultivars may be ideal for your upcoming project. Just call us at 707.933.6327.

How can we help you?

Call our Mobile Now

Click to Call 707.933.6327

Let us help you find your olive tree solution quickly and efficiently. Whether or not you need help selecting the right tree, diagnosing a problem with an existing olive tree, or arranging a tree installation throughout California, we’re happy to help you out.

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