Growing Olives In Your Home Garden

Olive Trees make you think of warm Mediterranean waters but did you know that you can grow them in Southeast Georgia? 

Olive trees are native to the Mediterranean regions of the world.  They have been grown for centuries to produce the finest table olives as well as highly prized olive oil. Olea europaea, or the common Olive Tree,  can be grown in most moderately warm climates (Zone 8-9).  They are evergreen and are one of the easiest plants to grow.  Olives can be grown in containers or in the ground.  Once established, they require very little care.


The best variety of Olive for Southeast Georgia is Olea europaea ‘Arbequina.  This cultivar is more cold-hardy than more traditional olives.  It produces a green/black olive in the fall.

Where To Plant

Grow Olives in a warm, sunny area.  They do best in moist well-drained soil.  pH ranges are wide as they tolerate 5.5-8.5.

Water Requirements

Water requirements are lower than most shrubs and they seem to be slightly drought tolerant.  Until the plant gets established, for the first year, water deeply every few days and especially during the hot summer months.  They will not tolerate Wet Feet


Fertilizer with an organic fertilizer for shrubs and trees for best results.

Growth Habits

Olives are upright and spreading growers.  They can be grown into a tree form or they can be pruned to keep bushy.  Excess pruning however may result in lower fruit yield.  A typical olive tree can live for many years and if left unpruned can reach heights of 10-15′ or better.  They can produce about 6-12″ of new growth per season.

Cold Tolerance

Most olives can tolerate warmer climate zones of 8-9.  ‘Arbequina’ can handle a little more cold than traditional Mediterranean olives and ours, planted next to a privacy fence, survived 25°F for a night or two.


Olives can begin to set fruit at 4-5 years of age depending on the variety. Most olives produce fruit in the fall of each year.  They are rarely table-ready from the bush and need to be brined or pressed.