What to consider when buying an olive tree

When buying an olive tree, whether for ornamental or fruit-bearing purposes, there are several important points to consider. Here’s a guide to help you make an informed decision:

1. Variety Selection:

Olive trees come in various varieties, each with its unique characteristics, growth habits, and fruit production. Determine your goal—ornamental, oil production, or table olives—and choose the appropriate olive variety.

2. Age and Size:

Consider the age and size of the tree you want to purchase. Younger trees are more adaptable to transplanting but may take longer to produce fruit. Older, more established trees may provide fruit sooner but can be challenging to transplant.

3. Rootstock:

Understanding the rootstock of the olive tree is crucial. Trees grafted onto suitable rootstock are more resilient and adaptable to different soil conditions. Be sure to inquire about the rootstock used for your tree.

4. Container or Bare-Root:

Olive trees can be purchased in containers or as bare-root specimens. Container-grown trees are often easier to transplant and may establish faster. Bare-root trees, however, are typically less expensive.

5. Local Climate:

Ensure the olive tree you choose is well-suited to your local climate. Olives generally thrive in Mediterranean-like climates but can adapt to various conditions. Some varieties are more cold-tolerant than others.

6. Quality of the Tree:

Inspect the tree for overall health. Look for well-shaped, balanced growth, without signs of disease, pests, or stress. Healthy leaves and strong branches are good indicators.

7. Soil and Location:

Understand the soil requirements of olive trees. They prefer well-draining soil, so assess the quality of your soil and be prepared to make amendments if necessary. Choose a suitable location with plenty of sunlight.

8. Maintenance Requirements:

Olive trees require pruning, irrigation, and fertilization to thrive and produce quality fruit. Consider the maintenance requirements and whether you’re prepared to care for the tree properly.

9. Disease Resistance:

Inquire about disease resistance when purchasing an olive tree. Some varieties are more resistant to common olive tree diseases, such as olive knot or olive fly infestations.

10. Expert Advice: – Seek advice from local nurseries, agricultural extension offices, or horticultural experts who are familiar with the specific olive varieties and growing conditions in your area. They can provide valuable guidance.

11. Source and Reputation: – Choose a reputable source when buying your olive tree. Nurseries and garden centers with a good reputation for quality plants are a safer bet. You may also consider buying from local olive orchards or specialty olive tree growers.

12. Legal Considerations: – Be aware of any legal restrictions or quarantine regulations regarding the importation and movement of olive trees in your area. Ensure your purchase complies with local regulations.

By carefully considering these points, you can select the right olive tree for your needs and create a thriving and fruitful addition to your garden or landscape.

What to consider when buying an olive tree
The olive tree is easy to care for and a real eye-catcher.

can you offer the olive tree a suitable location?

The olive tree needs a location that is as sunny as possible during the growing season, which is roughly from March/April to September/October. It loves the sun and the warmth. A balcony or terrace facing south is therefore perfect. A south-west orientation is also a good choice. In southeastern direction, on the other hand, the morning sun often does not have so much power yet.

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It is ideal if a little wind blows through the crown of the olive tree from time to time. This way, its leaves dry quickly after a rain shower. In addition, the flowers of the olive tree are pollinated by the wind – the prerequisite for its own olive harvest.

If the olive tree is too cold in the spring, it may fail to bloom. So at the beginning of the season it should be a little more protected than later in the year. From around the end of May, it is usually warm and sunny enough in this country for the tree to feel comfortable in a somewhat more exposed location.

In very mild regions of Europe, you can also plant robust olive tree varieties outdoors. Here, of course, the same requirements for sun and warmth apply. However, this is usually only possible in wine-growing areas or similarly mild regions.

 
Is the olive tree suitable as a houseplant?

As a pure indoor plant, the olive tree does not feel at all well. Despite windows, it often suffers from lack of light, sheds its leaves and becomes susceptible to pests. Exceptions are really very bright winter gardens, where ideally the windows or doors can be opened.

 
How much space does an olive tree need?

That depends, of course, on how big an olive tree you buy. There are small trees with rather short trunks that can also be placed on a small side table on the balcony or terrace, for example.

In the beginning you need a pot with a diameter of about 25 cm for an olive tree of this size. Over the years, the tree will grow and the root ball will need more space. However, you do not have to take a larger pot every time you repot. Roughly speaking, the pot should have a diameter of about 40 cm after a good 10 years – depending on how much the tree grows. Generally, it will grow about 1.50 to a maximum of 2 m tall in a pot.

Do you have a good location and enough space? Great, the first step is done to buy your own olive tree.

can the olive tree overwinter well with you?

The olive tree needs a winter rest, during which it takes a break in its growth. If you want to overwinter it indoors, you need a room that is as bright and cool as possible. Temperatures between 3 and 10 degrees are ideal, but up to 12 degrees is also fine.

Depending on the variety, however, the olive tree can also overwinter very well outside.

Everything you need to know about wintering the olive tree, we have summarized for you in an extra article.

Where is the best place to buy an olive tree?

The classic source of supply for plants of all kinds are nurseries and garden centers. These companies raise their plants themselves and take care of them professionally. However, since olive trees – just like citrus trees – feel particularly at home in the Mediterranean climate and grow particularly well and quickly there, many farms obtain their olive trees as already well-established young plants from abroad.

The plants in DIY and plant markets or even supermarkets and discounters, in turn, come from nurseries, wholesale nurseries or other plant traders.

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The closer you are to “the source” when buying, the better it is, of course. An olive tree in a DIY store may have already been through many stages, but at least it is cared for on site by specialist staff. Unfortunately, this is not the case with plants in supermarkets or discount stores.

 
Buying an olive tree: Nearby or online?

This question cannot be answered easily. Even with local dealers in your area, it may be that the trees have already traveled a long way through several intermediaries.

In general, you should only buy an olive tree from suppliers who seem trustworthy and reputable – and who of course know something about plants.


How much does it cost to buy an olive tree?

How much you have to pay for an olive tree depends mainly on its age. The older and more established the plant, the more expensive it is. Thus, for an old, gnarled olive tree you have to put several hundred euros on the table. However, this is not always wise: old trees sometimes react very sensitively to a change of location or climate.

Very young and small olive trees, on the other hand, are cheaper, but of course it still takes time for them to blossom and bear fruit for the first time. In a good location, olive trees bloom when they are about 7 to 8 years old.

So it is a matter of finding the golden mean. We think our olive trees have a wonderful age: they are already blooming and there is not long to wait for the first harvest.

What to consider when buying an olive tree
The flowering period of olive trees begins in May

which variety is best for you?

To answer this question, you should already know whether you want to overwinter your olive tree indoors or outdoors. If you choose to overwinter indoors, the winter hardiness of your tree does not matter much, because it does not have to worry about frost.

The less favorable the conditions in the winter quarters indoors – that is, the warmer and darker it is there – the more resistant the variety should be. A sensitive variety will suffer stress more quickly if conditions are not ideal. Of course, this also applies to the location in summer. The wetter, harsher or cooler the climate where you live, the hardier plants you will need.

If you do not have a suitable indoor wintering area, your only option is to overwinter outside. Depending on the climate where you live, make sure you buy an olive tree that can handle some frost. But beware: no olive tree is completely hardy in our latitudes!


What accessories do you need for the olive tree?

Spade or shovel

For an olive tree planted outdoors, you will need a spade to plant it. For planting in a pot, a small shovel is sufficient.

Soil

The olive tree can be planted in a normal potting soil, which you can loosen up with some sand, fine gravel or clay granules. This way, the watering and rain water can drain off better.

For outdoor use, depending on the nature of your garden soil, you can also plant the tree directly in the garden soil. However, it is advisable to mix in some compost or nutrient-rich potting soil.

Pots or tubs

For your olive tree in a pot, you will of course need a suitable planter.

Pots are available in a variety of materials. The classic clay pot looks great, but is also heavy and therefore impractical if you need to move the tree. Also, depending on the exact material, clay pots can be susceptible to frost. For plastic pots, go for recycled materials. Be aware that black plastic pots can heat up in the sun and cause heat damage to the roots. There are also pots made from natural materials like wood or bamboo.

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Drainage material

In order for the soil to dry even better, it is advisable to not only mix it with sand & co, but to spread an additional drainage layer at the bottom of the pot. For this you need, for example, expanded clay balls or coarse gravel.

Fertilizer

You can supply the olive tree with mineral or organic fertilizers. We clearly recommend organic fertilizers. These are better for the environment and also have a long-term effect. For example, you can mix the soil with compost (soil) and a slow-release fertilizer right at planting.

Mineral fertilizer, on the other hand, must be added regularly. Here you can find more information about fertilizing the olive tree.

Garden shears, watering can & Co.

To keep the tree in shape, you will also need sharp secateurs. Only for very thick branches you need pruning shears. However, pruning is usually only necessary after about a year.

A watering can is very practical, so that you can regularly provide the olive tree with sufficient water.

If winter is just around the corner, a garden fleece is recommended for overwintering outside, with which you can protect the pot and the crown of the tree from frost.


After the purchase: How to care for the olive tree

A newly purchased olive tree must either be planted out or repotted. In most cases, it has been standing in the same soil for a long time, which contains hardly any nutrients.

You can also leave your olive tree alone for a few days after purchase to acclimate it before it moves into its new home. We recommend that you always protect purchased plants from full sun for a few days, as in many cases they are not yet used to it.

When planting out or repotting, an initial application of fertilizer with an organic slow-release fertilizer is a good idea. In addition, the olive tree then needs a vigorous watering. Olive trees like it when the soil can dry out a bit after watering. Therefore, water the tree thoroughly, but not so often.

Keep a close eye on your olive tree in the beginning. You should look for warning signs of waterlogging and pest infestation. Moving always means some stress for a plant, which makes it more susceptible to pests.

Conclusion – Buying an olive tree made easy

Now you know what is important when you want to buy an olive tree. In addition to a suitable location, above all a wintering option is very important. We hope that we could give you all the important information.

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  • James Jones

    Meet James Jones, a passionate gardening writer whose words bloom with the wisdom of an experienced horticulturist. With a deep-rooted love for all things green, James has dedicated his life to sharing the art and science of gardening with the world. James's words have found their way into countless publications, and his gardening insights have inspired a new generation of green thumbs. His commitment to sustainability and environmental stewardship shines through in every article he crafts.

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