Growing Olives in Zone 7?

olive growing zones

How should we think about olive growing zones?

USDA Zone 7 is typically considered too cold for olive trees.

But we're gardeners, which means we want to grow beautiful trees that aren't recommended for our zones. That goes both ways too -- for every New Yorker wanting a Meyer lemon tree we have a Southern Californian longing to grow Bartlett pears.

Tricia plants an olive tree in our latest video and that probably has you fired up about the beautiful and long-lived trees, with their crop of health-giving fruit. Here's how to push the envelope for olives in your climate.

Classic ways to find warmth for olives in your zone

Find the warm microclimates on your property Microclimates are the hotter and cooler parts of your landscape. Tips for locating warm microclimates: Up against the wall Heat will reflect from a south or west-facing wall of your house, outbuilding or wooden fence. The stored heat from the daytime will continue to warm the tree at night, raising the temperatures by several degrees. Plant an olive near one of those structures (allowing room for mature olive tree branches and good air circulation around the tree). Facing south or west Garden areas that get full southern exposure are the warmest parts of the landscape. Western exposures come next as hot spots. An eastern exposure captures morning sun, but is shaded in the afternoon, so there is not enough additional heat to really create a warmer microclimate. Higher is better The upper part of a slope will be warmer than the lower part. Cold air heads down hills and into valleys, bringing cooler temperatures and increased potential for frost.

Olive varieties that are more cold-tolerant

Typical olives trees will be damaged by temperatures below 17F and may not survive temperatures below 10F. A few varieties are a bit tougher and more likely to make it through cold spells. If you're in USDA Zone 7, we recommend Mission and Arbequina olive trees.

Baby the olive trees through cold spells

A reliable, temporary measure for protecting your olive tree in a cold spell is to use floating row cover fabric like Agribon as a shield over the tree. An unusual cold-proofing method is suggested by the Texas Olive Council, "To protect from the cold, mound trees with about 18 inches of soil on the trunk until they reach the age of five. Soil should be mounded in November and removed in late March." Grow olives in containers A sure-fire way of controlling the climate is to grow olive trees in containers (they adapt well to that life). Either seasonally, or during cold spells, move the containers under the eaves of your house, or into a structure where the olives will remain at comfortable temperatures. With a combination of warm microclimate, a proper variety, and safeguards during cold spells you should be able to grow olives in Zone 7.
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28 comments

Hello, I have an outdoor potted olive tree (Arberquina) . I live in GA (zone 8) not the mountainous part. I planted it in early spring and it’s doing wonderful. Healthy full leaves and is about 5 ft tall. My question is how to care for it this winter. We don’t have overly harsh winters but occasionally get snow and cold temperatures for days on end in January and February. I have read conflicting reconnections. Some say it’s fine bc it next to the house under an eve where it receives sun almost all day, others say it should come inside until March. I just don’t know what is best. I also know these trees need a ton of sunlight and I don’t want to cause it shock by bringing it inside where it may not receive enough sun. So could you please give me a good recommendation on what I should do for my olive tree this winter. Thank you.

Whitney L

I live in Wester Colorado zone 7a Grand Junction to be specific. I was told by old timers here that there were olive trees this area. I have also been no that it’s impossible. Given that we have peaches, grapes and other "Mediterranean crops here is it possible that they were here and can I grow them? Thanks

William C Heaney

Susan, you might want to wait until spring to plant to allow it to establish over the summer, the problem is that we may not have any olives available for sale in the spring.

Suzanne

I want to try an olive tree in Atlanta Ga…Im ready to buy now but wondering if it makes sense to wait until spring? So it can get establishes more before winter? Thanks for any help you can provide.

Susan Elisha

Peter, you may be able to grow them if the conditions are right. As the article stated, you need to find a warm spot in your yard and will need to really baby them through the winter until they get established.

Suzanne

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