Generally trouble free and easy to grow, the classic evergreen Olive Tree has grey-green foliage, fragrant creamy-white flowers in summer followed by edible green fruits (olives) turning black in hot summers. We have trees available in many sizes, shapes and forms.
The Olive will grow 10-18inches a year and forms a classic rounded head shaped tree. For that Mediterranean look plant with Lavenders, Rosemary and Chamerops. It can be pruned to any shape or size; some we know of have even been pruned with a chainsaw! It’s tough and grows well in coastal areas of Cornwall like St Mawes and Falmouth, but it is not recommended for cliff top coastal gardens like Land’s End or The Lizard unless it has some shelter.
It needs perfectly free-draining soil - if the site is too wet it will lose its leaves. If you can stand there with a hose and the water drains away before your eyes it is ok! You can even double dig the subsoil to improve drainage. A stony free draining site is perfect (it is easier to water in summer than to get rid of excess water in the winter).
Some of the huge olives come in large pots. Many of our customers have removed the pot and built a low wall around the tree, backfilling with soil. This creates a taller tree and excellent drainage. It should also be fed with an excellent slow release fertiliser like Trevena Cross Fertiliser, especially if it is being kept in the pot.
From the feedback we have received from customers, large trees have survived down to -17oC, and most sizes have been fine at Trevena Cross Nurseries in the last few cold winters that have reached temperatures as low as -10oC – but to be totally safe, fleece when it gets really cold. If the tree loses all its leaves it will generally be down to poor drainage rather than the cold.