In the article, Ian takes us through all the stages of planting and caring for an olive tree so that you can experience the delight of harvesting olives from your tree.
What is an Olive Tree?
An olive tree is a unique and ancient species of an evergreen tree that has been cultivated for thousands of years. This versatile tree can be grown in a variety of climates and environments, ranging from coastal regions to dry, inland areas.
Thanks to their hardiness and resistance to heat, olive trees are a staple in many countries cuisine, providing both olives and oil.
One of the most common questions asked about olive trees is, “Can you grow an olive tree from a pit?” The answer may surprise you: yes!
Growing olive trees from pits or seeds is also possible; it is relatively simple and can often yield successful results. With some basic care and attention, your very own olive tree could be producing beautiful olives in as little as 2–3 years!
Which Types of Olives Are Suitable for Planting?
Olives are one of the oldest cultivated trees in the world, with evidence of cultivation dating back as far as 6500 B.C.
But which types of olives are suitable for planting? In this article, we’ll discuss choosing the right varieties of olive trees. We have two common varieties: green olives and black olives, and we provide some tips on how to grow an olive tree from a pit.
Green olives are the most common type of olive tree that you will find in stores or online. They do require special care because they don’t tolerate high temperatures, so they need lots of sunshine and plenty of water to thrive.
Black olives are a less common variety that is prized for their distinct flavor and deep color. This type of olive tree prefers hot weather conditions compared to the cooler environment in which green olives thrive best. Black olives have a higher oil content than their green counterparts, so they need more space between plants when planted in order to reach their full-size potential.
No matter whether you choose to grow green or black olives, gather the olives from the tree once they’ve ripened but before they turn black. Choose only those that are undamaged and free from insect holes for the best growth results. This is the first step in “Can you grow an olive tree from a pit?”
Steps Required How to Grow an Olive tree From an olive pit?
As an ingredient in Mediterranean-inspired cuisines, olives have long been a staple in diets throughout parts of Europe and the Middle East. You may often find yourself asking, “Can you grow an olive tree from a pit?” The answer is yes, it is possible; however, commercial olive growers rarely grow their trees directly from the pits.
It takes some specialized knowledge and the right steps to get the process going, so here are the steps required to successfully grow an olive tree from an olive pit.
Plant at the Right Time of Year
Late spring or early summer is usually considered the right time to plant your olive tree. If temperatures drop too much for too long, then it could possibly result in irreversible damage to your sapling, as most frost does, but make sure you monitor weather forecasts before planting.
Gather The Seed
Have you ever wondered, “Why is my olive tree losing its leaves?” It’s essential to provide the right conditions to ensure that your olives can sprout a healthy seedling and keep your tree thriving. An important step that many overlook is ensuring that their olives are germ-free before planting.
This can be done by finding freshly picked ones off the tree and quickly washing them after collection—it’s such a small but significant detail! With this taken care of, you’ll soon have an olive tree full of luscious leaves again.
Clean The Seed
Fill a bucket with olives and give them a gentle tap with a hammer to break up the flesh. Leave the olives in the water overnight, stirring and getting rid of any floats that may appear—these are most likely decayed. Strain away the water once it has finished soaking.
Use two scouring pads or something similar to scrub away any remaining flesh from the olives, and then rinse everything off properly. With a pair of bolt cutters, make small notches in the tips of the olive pits without going all the way through; otherwise, you will damage the seeds inside.
Leave your prepared olives in room-temperature water for 24 hours, and they are ready to plant!
Can you grow an olive tree from a pit?
Yes, you can grow an olive pit! An olive tree (Olea europaea) can be grown by carefully preparing the pit for planting, sowing the seeds correctly, and then monitoring diligently as they germinate and eventually transplanting the saplings outside.
Preparing the Pit for Planting
For the perfect pot, grab a three-inch container and fill it with a mix of one part coarse sand and one part seed compost. You can easily find these materials at your local gardening store, then add a bit of water until your soil is moist but not overly wet. With the right soil, you’ll be ready for a successful planting experience.
Sow Olive Seeds
Sow seeds at a depth of 1-2 inches. Plant one seed per pot for the best results and to avoid competition for resources.
Keep Soil Moist
Put the plants into a shaded cold frame with a germination mat set at 16°C for around 4 weeks. Water the top 5 cm regularly, but let the top 14 dries between waterings to prevent fungal or bacterial diseases.
Increase Germination Mat Temperature
Set the heating mat to 70 F once your 30-day warm stratification has been completed. Then, make sure to water whenever the top ¼ inch of soil begins to dry out.
Monitor for Seed Germination
In just one month, you’ll be able to spot new seedlings! Keep the germination mat in place for optimal root growth. Gradually decrease the temperature of your cold frame by five degrees each week until it’s in sync with the outdoor temperature.
Plant the tree in the fall (August to September) when it is 18 inches tall. Dig a shallow hole in a sunny spot and make sure it has good drainage, as olive trees die easily when overwatered.
Gently place the tree in the hole, slightly higher than the ground; cover it with soil; and don’t over-fertilize. Leave 3 feet of space between trees for adequate nutrient absorption.
Water lightly when the top ¼ inch of soil is dry; usually no extra care is needed during cold months. Now you have all the knowledge necessary to have success with how to transplant an olive tree!
Caring for Your Olive Tree
While it is possible to grow an olive tree from a pit, it is not very common as the success rate is quite low. Therefore, most people opt to purchase a young sapling or even learn how to grow an olive tree from a cutting. Regardless of where you obtain your tree, here are some important tips and considerations when looking after your olive tree.
Continue to Water Regularly
Watering your olive tree is key. During the growing season, give it 3–4 weekly waterings, depending on rainfall. If dry spells occur, spray the tree to keep the soil hydrated and nourished. For older trees, increased water will be needed.
Prune for Healthy Growth
Pruning your olive tree is essential for keeping it healthy and growing. Cut dead or diseased branches to improve growth, and trim regularly during the season if you want to control size and shape. Remember, only cut live branches; cuts on dead wood won’t heal.
Fertilize as Needed
Fertilize olive trees with a balanced formula every 6–12 months or when soil tests indicate they are needed. Diligently follow directions when applying fertilizer to avoid overdoing it which can damage the tree.
Choose organic compost to provide essential nutrients while avoiding chemicals that could harm the plants.
Watch for Pests & Diseases
Check your plants for signs of scale infestations or fungal diseases like discolored spots and wilting leaves. If unsure, reach out to local gardening services for tailored advice on pest control and treatment options. Avoid major damage to the plant by detecting ailments early.
Harvesting Olives From Your Tree
FAQs: Can You Grow an Olive Tree From a Pit? Harvesting Olives From Your Tree
How to grow an olive tree from a cutting?
Hammer the cutting 1/8″ beneath a leaf node. Strip away extra leaves, leaving two or three at the top. Stir 0.2% IBA rooting hormone into the end of the cutting and tap to remove the surplus powder. Push it into a pre-made hole in dampened soil, pressing down firmly.
What can you do with olive pits?
Seed fillings can make desserts and savory snacks exciting! Use them as a filling for your baked goods, add to bread dough, or even roast and caramelize for a unique and healthy ice cream/chocolate topping. Enjoy!
How long does it take from seed to mature an olive tree?
At least four years
When an olive tree grows from seed, how long does it take to bear fruit?
It takes up to seven years for an olive tree to reach maturity and start producing fruit. The process begins with planting a seed and takes 3-5 years of care and growth before the tree becomes mature and yields olives.
So, by following the steps outlined by theanacostiawaterfront.com in their article “Can You Grow An Olive Tree from a Pit?” it is possible to create your own small olive grove with ease.