Plant of the Month

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Olive Tree
Olea europaea

  • Plant Form: Evergreen tree
  • Water Use: Low
  • Mature Size: 20-30 ft. tall x 15-25 ft. wide
  • Exposure: Full sun, part sun
  • Bloom Time: Spring (March – May)
  • Native to: Mediterranean Region
  • Hardiness: Cold hardy to 15°F
There are so many reasons to love olive trees, including their ability to withstand heat, poor soils, drought, and very little water. Put this tree in a special spot as a specimen, featured in a large pot, or in mass plantings such as a privacy screen.

Olive trees have been cherished since the time of the Roman Empire for their picturesque gnarled trunks and branches. Over the millennia, people have enjoyed the tree’s edible olives (which must be cured in brine before eating), and the valuable olive oil pressed from their fruit. Gardeners today appreciate the tree’s tolerance of heat, poor soils, drought, very low water, and ease of care, as well as the soft gray foliage that complements most other colors. Some people, however, are allergic to the tree’s pollen, and some disdain the olives dropping on their patios, causing stains. Hybrid varieties are available that produce little or no pollen and no fruit (like ‘Swan Hill,’ ‘Majestic Beauty,’ and ‘Wilsonii’). Fruiting varieties can be sprayed with a fruit-control hormone during flowering, but this is a yearly program. On patios, decks, or around pools, fruitless varieties are recommended. Olive trees are magnificent as specimen trees, planted in mass, or in large containers. Dwarf varieties are available.

Check out our “Garden Tasks” for January