How to choose olive trees
You can see it all now—it’s a sunny day and you’re sitting at a wooden table in your olive grove, eating olives and crusty bread, and drinking wine with your friends and family. You grew and cured those olives yourself.
The question is—WHICH olives?
Which olive trees will get prized positions in your olive grove? It’s like growing any other edible—grow the flavors you like to eat.
You may already have favorite olives, or perhaps you’re from the school of All Olives Taste Great. If you have a chance, stop by your local deli or olive bar and do some sampling to point you in the right direction.
How to Choose Olive Trees With Our Custom Tools
Go to our Olive Trees page where we created tools to help you choose the right olive trees for your farm or garden.
1) Determine your USDA hardiness zone then choose your zone number in the sidebar under USDA Zone. You will now have a list of olives for the zone that you entered. From here you can further sort the list by olive uses.
2) Olives can be used for either eating (Table), for oil production, or both, eating and oil. Go to the Olive Uses tool. If you want to grow table olives to cure and eat, choose Table in the sidebar. If you want to press olive oil, choose Oil. Several of our olive trees are “dual purpose” and appear on both lists. Remember olives must be cured before eating. You can watch Tricia show you how to cure olives using the lactic fermentation method, or Greek-style brined olives.
3) Olive trees are particularly attractive and have been a motif in art since ancient times. If you’re planning to use olive trees as edible landscaping, you’ll appreciate our tool that sorts the trees by growth habit. Within Olive Tree Habits, choose Upright for a tree that grows mostly upward, and Weeping for a tree that has drooping branches.
4) Olive trees will not be fruitful without the right pollination. Our Pollinated By tool shows you which olive trees work as pollenizors for others. Some olive trees are self-pollinating, and our sorting tool will tell you that too. Would you like an introduction to fruit tree pollination? We have an article about pollination that explains the process.
Here Are A Few Suggestions Based on Climate
The following is a list of suggested varieties based on “cold”, moderate or mild climates:
“Cold” Climates - regions where temperature can fall as low as 18°F and snow may fall occasionally. The selected varieties can withstand short periods of cold, but keep in mind, these are well established trees and they are not actively growing.
Moderate Climates - regions are where minimum temperatures are usually between 25-27°F, and rarely drops below 21°F. This is typical of the world’s olive growing areas.
- Most varieties sold in the US
Warm Climates - regions where the winter temperatures rarely fall below 28 to 32°F. Any warmer, the trees do not receive the winter chill required for dormancy.
Not all olives are listed here, only varieties that have well documented information. Every tree has suggested USDA zones, and that should be the guideline. Olive trees can be grown in a pot for several years and brought indoors during cold winters. There are also microclimates within zones and if you live in a “banana belt” in your cold climate zone, olives may survive. The first few years is the most critical to get your olive established and happy.
So if you like olives or want to try your hand at pressing your own oil, plant an olive!
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