Home > Great Big Greenhouse Blog > May 2014 > ANOTHER EXOTIC HOUSEPLANT--THE OLIVE


I have never had the pleasure of traveling around the Mediterranean, but, fortunately, I’ve seen some of the wonderful plants from that area growing in California.  My favorite is the Olive tree, especially one with some age to it.  Older trees will have wide, gnarled trunks, and some trees have been confirmed to be as old as 2000 years.

Native to the Mediterranean, Asia and Africa, olive trees have been used for oil for thousands of years.  A small percentage of commercial olive trees are used for table fruit, and the beautiful hard wood is used for carving spoons, bowls, and other decorative items. 

We frequently carry small starter plants in our bonsai section, but recently we received a shipment of olives that make attractive summer patio plants—I snagged one for myself, of course.  The pretty gray-green leaves are a nice foil for other more leafy-green plants.  The size and shape of these standards make them very suitable to both glazed ceramic and terra cotta containers, attractive additions to sunny decks or patios.  Olea europea (and its many cultivars) is not hardy in our area, so your olive tree will need to winter inside in a very sunny window.  Pot up gradually as the plant is relatively slow-growing, and over-potting can cause root rot.

Provide full sun (at least 6 hours of direct sun daily) and allow the soil to dry slightly between thorough waterings.  Use a potting medium and container that drain well.  Fertilize regularly when the plant is actively growing—generally spring and summer—with a balanced fertilizer such as 20-20-20, and reduce both water and fertilizer in fall and winter.  Single olive trees can produce some fruit, but cross-pollinating is necessary for commercial crops.

This gift to the world from the Greek goddess Athena is best known as a symbol of peace, and, whether or not I manage to get any olives from my plant, all of its historical and mythical associations make it a wonderful addition to my plant collection.   

Posted: 5/8/2014 by Margot | with 0 comment(s)
Filed under: MargotGunn, TheGreatIndoors
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