How to Grow Olive Trees in Texas

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Not easy, but possible
Not easy, but possible (Image: Olive image by Marco from Fotolia.com)

Growing olive trees in Texas isn't easy, but it's possible. The problem is that olive trees require chilly weather in March, when Texas is generally mild. The trees lose their cold-hardiness, and are often killed to the root when Texas has the occasional hard freeze every two years or so. Like any type of tree, olives are an investment of time and resources. If you're patient and persistent, you'll be able to grow one.

Things You'll Need

  • Olive tree
  • Bucket
  • Water
  • Peat
  • Sand
  • Nitrogen fertilizer
  • Pruning shears
  • Frost blanket

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Buy an olive cultivar that is most adaptable to Texas weather. Ascolano, Mission and Barouni are all good choices.

Plant olive trees in spring, in a sunny location that has rich, well-drained soil. Olives have a shallow root system, and do not like to be waterlogged. Check the soil before planting by pouring a bucket of water on the ground. If it pools and sits, amend the soil with equal parts peat and sand until it drains readily.

After planting, fertilize once in the spring and again in December, using no more than 2 pounds of nitrogen fertilizer total.

Prune only in early spring, unless you see dead wood or disease in the tree. Avoid pruning in fall because it will stimulate new growth at a time when cold temperatures can damage or kill it.

Protect the tree from frost by "hilling" it until it's five years old. Every November, create a mound of soil 1 to 2 feet high all the way around the trunk to protect it from freezing. Remove the mound the following year. Tent the tree with a frost blanket to protect foliage during freezing nights. Be sure to remove it promptly in the morning.

Tips & Warnings

  • Olive trees can be planted close together and topped to create a beautiful, dense hedge.
  • Keep in mind that you'll be lucky to get olive fruit because of Texas' weather. Even if you don't get olives, you will still have a lovely ornamental tree.

References

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