Olive Tree Care and Maintenance

A branch bearing olives extends from an olive tree.

Olive trees are unique evergreen trees with a remarkably long lifespan. The lifespan can extend to more than 500 years. A healthy, mature olive tree can grow up to 50 feet tall and spread its canopy up to 30 feet wide. Native to the coastal regions of the Mediterranean basin, they require warm, sunny, and relatively dry conditions to thrive. They can be grown in USDA planting zones 8 and above. In cooler regions, dwarf olive trees can be grown in a greenhouse or a sunny spot indoors.

TIP: Our expert gardening advisor, Susan Patterson adds, "Weeping dwarf olive trees are best suited to containers."


Plant an olive tree in a location that receives at least 6 hours of sunshine a day. The soil should be alkaline, well-draining, and rich in organic material.


Moderate watering should be done to ensure that the soils are moist but not waterlogged during the growing season. In the winter, even less watering is necessary.


Fertilizers should be applied to the soil systematically. It is best to use a fertilizer with a good amount of nitrogen. Fertilizers boost the health of the tree and promote a healthy yield of olives. Throughout the growing season, give the trees a liquid feed every month.


Properly pruning the trees encourages fuller growth and enhances the appearance of the trees. Branches should be clipped at the leaf nodes.

TIP: Susan advises, "Clean pruning tools in hydrogen peroxide before clipping your olive tree."

Disease and Pests

Keep a vigilant watch over your olive trees for any signs of diseases. Fungal diseases are especially common and care must be taken not to use infected shears when pruning. It is best to remove infected branches, and even whole trees if need be.

With just a little bit of care and maintenance, the olive tree can thrive for centuries.