How to Grow Black Olives

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An olive will turn black on the tree when it is ripe.
An olive will turn black on the tree when it is ripe. (Image: olive image by Roques Jean Chris from Fotolia.com)

Many people enjoy the taste of black olives and use them for different food, like sandwiches and pizza. Growing your own can seem like an easy way to provide your family black olives whenever you want. Unfortunately, for much of the United States, you cannot grow black olives outdoors. Olive trees thrive in areas like coastal California and in Arizona if they care cared for properly. If you have a greenhouse, you can grow black olives no matter where you live. Plant your olive trees in the autumn for outdoor growing and in temperatures around 70 degrees F for indoor growing. Fruit can die if the temperatures get below 28 degrees.

Things You'll Need

  • Olive tree
  • Shovel
  • Miniature sprinklers

Dig a hole for your olive tree that is the same size as the plant's pot. Olive trees start as small as 4-inch pots about 18 to 24 inches tall and can be as big as 1-gallon pots 4 to 5 feet tall.

Remove the olive tree from the pot and examine the roots. Untwist or remove any roots that have circled up.

Plant the olive tree into the hole. Fill it back in with the original soil; do not add any specialty fertilizers, peat moss or other soil. If planting multiple trees, space them about 20 feet apart to allow for maximum growth.

Weed around the olive trees weekly during the first two or three years. There should be no weeds within 3 feet of the olive trees.

Place miniature sprinklers between the trees far enough apart that the trunks will not get wet but close enough to gather the water from the soil. Water the trees as soon as they begin to get dry -- usually twice a week, but if the weather is extremely hot, water more frequently. Olive trees need about 4 inches of water to grow properly.

Monitor the tree until olives begin to appear; usually this will take four years. The olives will be green at first; when they turn black, they are mature.

Pick the olives.

Tips & Warnings

  • Barouni, Gordal, Manzanillo, Mission, Picholine, Rubra and Sevillano are common types of olive trees that will produce black olives.
  • Do not grow olive trees near sidewalks; the fruit can fall off and stain the sidewalk.
  • Do not prune your olive tree during the first four years; this can stunt the growth and health of the olive tree.

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