Olea europaea. A gnarled olive tree. A clambering grape vine. River rock. The only way to improve upon this garden picture is to plant one of the rustic Italian olive trees. Bay Flora is pleased to offer McEvoy Ranch Tuscan olive trees. These choice olive tree varieties have been organically grown and well trained for a perfect start, as can be seen from the photo, at left, of their growing grounds in the western hills of Sonoma County. About 3' tall in 1 gallon containers. Each olive tree has been carefully pruned and shaped to create an even-branched, balanced canopy. McEvoy pruners remove the central leader of the single trunk trees to promote lateral growth as well as create easy access for harvesting.
McEvoy Ranch no longer produces these lovely trees, so when our current crop of trees is gone, they're gone for good. We will be offering smaller, non-organic trees such as the Manzanillo, below.
Full sun and good drainage required. Expect harvestable crops in about three years. The first fruits are almost all pit and no meat and it's best to remove them, although few people can bring themselves to do it. You must process olives within a few days of harvesting, whether for oil or table, or they'll start to decompose and the end result will be inferior. Never use olives that have fallen off the tree when curing or pressing.
Olive trees bear their fruit on one year old shoots. To promote this growth, prune your trees in spring. You can pinch the branches of new trees or prune back branches of established trees. Olive trees won't bear fruit twice on the same wood, so remove bearing shoots from the previous year each spring.
If you want to enhance growth, be sure to fertilize well. Seaweed not only provides boron, which olives need, but it also helps trees survive cold weather. Well-aged manure, dolomitic lime and greensand provide an excellent top layer food source that will slowly and safely release nutrients to the trees.
In colder climates, grow olive trees in a pot that can be brought into a sun porch during the winter. Olive trees need at least 100 hours of temperatures below 50 degrees in the winter, so keep this requirement in mind when considering growing olive trees indoors. Zones 9-10 outdoors, where trees grow to about 25 feet. Please read varietal descriptions for pollenizer requirements. Fruit and new growth injured at 26 degrees, tree injured at 16 degrees.
A note on the olive fruit fly: it has established its nasty little self throughout California olive growing regions. You can control it organically by using Spinosad, but diligence is required.
A second note: olives prefer dry conditions and are prone to fungal disease in areas of high humidity, such as most of the Southeast. Thomas Jefferson, a great gardener, had his heart broken over his olive trees' intransigent refusal to produce a harvestable crop at Monticello.
Olive trees are grown in 1 gal containers unless otherwise specified.
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|Arbequina Olive Tree 4" x 9" pot|
These Arbequina trees are about 2.5' tall with developed branching as of January 2014. Self-fertile, just like the larger Arbequinas. Young olive trees grow quickly their first few seasons, and then decelerate to their typical slow growth rate. Grown in 4" x 9" containers. Non-organic.
|Arbequina Olive Tree 1 Gal|
Arbequina olive trees hail from Catalonia, not Tuscany, but they share the same excellent rustic qualities of the above varieties, including high adaptability to different climates and soils. Used for both oil and table olives, the fruit is small and rounded. Crop matures into black olives over a few weeks, so you have time to pick them. Tree is weeping, fairly compact and shorter than other varieties, and self-fertile. This new crop is about 3' tall, small but well-branched.
|Arbequina Olive Tree 2 Gal|
This larger version of our 1 gal Arbequina is fruiting as of September 2013. 4-5' tall, narrow caliper main trunk.
|Topiary Braided Arbequina Olive Trees|
Two Arbequina olive trees have been braided together and trained for three years in a 2 gallon pot into a charming natural topiary. A perfect gift for weddings and a rewarding specimen for the terrace or garden. About 4' tall. OUT OF STOCK UNTIL FALL 2014.
|Coratina Olive Tree 4" x 9" pot|
Trees about 3' tall,branching just beginning, as of January 2014. See pollenization details below. Grown in 4" x 9" pots. Non-organic.
|Coratina Olive Tree 1 Gal|
A very adaptable olive tree from Puglia, the oil has a strong peppery flavor from its high polyphenol levels. Coratina olive trees grow faster and more erect than others, with gray-green leaves. Excellent choice for hot climates. Compatible olive tree pollenizers include Frantoio and Leccino. Trees well-formed but not as large as photo as of January 2014.
|Frantoio Olive Tree 4" x 9" pot|
The primary varietal used in Tuscan oil production, the Frantoio olive tree is useful to the home gardener as well. This olive tree is self-fertile, meaning it doesn't require another variety to set fruit, but is also an excellent pollenizer to other olive trees. The Frantoio olive tree grows in semi-pendulous fashion, with dark green-gray leaves. The fruit also makes a good table olive after curing, with a slightly nutty flavor to the medium-sized fruit. Perfect for container planting with silver thyme and oregano. Well-established plants are over 3' tall and branching well as of January 2014. Grown in 4" x 9" pots. Non-organic.
|Koroneiki Olive Tree 4" x 9" pot|
Koroneiki trees have dominated Greek olive groves since Homer wrote The Odyssey and no doubt dipped bread into the peppery oil we still enjoy thousands of years later. Koroneiki olives are smaller than other varieties, matching the compact growth pattern of the tree. Small, thick leaves. Oil has very high oleic acid content. One of the more tender varieties. Self-fertile. As of January 2014 trees are well-developed, 3' tall and good branching. Grown in 4" x 9" containers. Non-organic.
|Leccino Olive Tree 4" x 9" pot|
Known for its ability to withstand more cold than the sensitive Frantoio, the Leccino also offers great disease resistance. Its vigorous growth habit means this smaller tree will catch up with the 1 gal tree within a year or two. About 3' tall and branching. Grown in 4" x 9" pots. Non-organic.
|Leccino Olive Tree|
Oil from the Leccino olive tree is more delicate than the Frantoio, and the small to medium fruit is also used for table olives. The olives ripen into black ovals practically all at once, so be prepared. The Leccino olive tree is a vigorous grower, with gray leaves and a graceful airy habit. Compatible olive tree pollenizers include Pendolino, Maurino, Picholine and Frantoio. As of January 2014, trees are 3' tall with a few ripe olives remaining. Grown in 1 gal pots.
|Manzanillo Olive Tree|
Manzanillo olive trees provide one of the earliest harvests of any variety, usually in September. And oh what great table olives they are. Apple shaped drupes release the pits easily and the flesh to pit ratio is high, making for superb eating. Self-fertile, although you'll get more fruit with Picual as a pollenizer. Grown in 4" x 9" pots, trees are 2-3' tall and branching as of January 2014. Grown in 4" x 9" pots. Non-organic. TEMPORARILY OUT OF STOCK.
|Maurino Olive Tree 1 Gal|
An excellent choice for coastal areas, Maurino olive trees produce a peppery and fruity oil. This olive tree is a compact grower, slightly weeping, with gray-green leaves tinted tan on the underside. It needs pollenizers. Compatible olive tree pollenizers include Pendolino, Leccino and Frantoio. Grown in 1 gal containers.
These smaller Pendolino trees are 2.5' tall and would be beautiful on any summer terrace in a terra cotta pot with silver dichondra tumbling over the edge. Good branching. Read a full description of this variety below. Grown in 4" x 9" pots. Non-organic.
|Pendolino Olive Tree 1 Gal|
This weeping olive tree is slow growing but well worth the wait. In fact, to see this olive tree in the gloaming, its narrow leaves backlit like slivers of a silver sun, is a heart-pounding experience. Pendolino olive trees are partially self-fertile, but you need pollenizers if you want a large fruit crop. Compatible olive tree pollenizers include Leccino and Maurino. Pendolino olive trees are used extensively as pollenizers in large olive tree groves. The fruit makes small but delicious green and black table olives as well. Trees as of January 2014 are slightly smaller than photo.