The Process of Olive Growth: How Do Olives Grow and Develop?


Olives are a popular fruit that grows on evergreen trees. When planted in the ground, these trees can be limited in their growth, but their popularity and extensive cultivation make up for it. Olives thrive in a Mediterranean climate, where each tree can produce a variety of fruits. The growing conditions for olives vary depending on the botanical characteristics of the tree, such as exposure, size, and pruning.

Planting olives is a common practice, and there are guides available to help with the process. However, not all olive trees bear fruit. Some varieties, like the fruitless Arbequina, are planted for their ornamental value and the beauty they bring to gardens. Others, like the dwarf olive tree, are popular for their compact size, making them suitable for small gardens or container gardening.

Regardless of the variety, olive trees require well-drained soil and optimal growth conditions. They can withstand cold winters, and in fact, some varieties are found in regions with below-freezing temperatures. However, olive trees generally prefer mild winters and hot summers. They are resistant to many pests and diseases, making them a low-maintenance option for gardeners. In terms of fertilizer, olives are not heavy feeders and generally do well without excessive nutrients.

Harvesting olives can be a labor-intensive process, but the effort is rewarded with a delicious snack or valuable oil. The timing of the harvest generally follows the changing color of the fruit. Once the olives turn from green to black, they are ready to be picked. The harvesting method can slightly vary depending on the desired end product. Some olives are best enjoyed fresh, while others are processed to produce oil or other olive-based solutions.

With their rich history and traditional legacy, olives have found their way into many cultures and cuisines around the world. Their versatility and nutritional value make them a staple in many households. Whether used for cooking, garnishing, or simply enjoyed as a snack, olives have become a frontiers fruit that continue to grow in popularity.

Source: This article was adapted from a gardening guide on how to grow olives.

Olive Facts Quick Guide to Olive Growing + Olive Oil Production

Olives have been grown for centuries and have enjoyed popularity throughout the ages. They are hardy trees that can live for hundreds of years, producing fruit year after year.

Inferior or wild olive trees are common and can be found in many parts of the world. However, for growing olives for commercial purposes, specific olive varieties must be planted.

If you’re considering growing olives, there are a few important things you need to know. First of all, olive trees require a specific climate to thrive. They prefer long, hot summers and mild winters. In areas where temperatures drop below freezing in winter, olives may not grow well.

The olive tree is also quite resilient when it comes to watering. Once mature, it can withstand brief periods of drought. However, during the growing season, regular watering is essential to ensure healthy fruit production.

When it comes to planting olive trees, the variety you choose is key. Some popular varieties include Arbequina, Manzanillo, and Morrocan. Each variety has its own unique characteristics and oil production potential.

High-density production is becoming more common, where olive trees are planted close together. This method increases the rate of production per acre. However, it also requires more careful pruning and maintenance.

Harvesting olives is another important step in the olive oil production process. The timing of the harvest is crucial. If olives are harvested too early, the oil yield may be low and the fruit may not be fully matured. On the other hand, if you wait too long, the olives may become overripe and the oil quality may be inferior.

Olives are sometimes harvested by hand, especially in traditional and small-scale production. However, large-scale growers often use mechanical harvesters to speed up the process.

Once the olives are harvested, they must be processed quickly to prevent any spoilage. The first step is to remove any leaves or stems from the olives. Then, the olives are crushed to release the oil. The oil is usually extracted using a centrifuge or press.

Unrefined olive oil, also known as extra virgin olive oil, is highly prized for its health benefits and delicious flavor. It is considered the highest quality olive oil and is often used in cooking and salad dressings.

There are many other types of olive oil available, including virgin olive oil, refined olive oil, and olive pomace oil. These oils are often used for frying and sautéing, as they have a higher smoke point.

In conclusion, growing olives and producing olive oil is a rewarding process that requires knowledge and care. By following the basics and understanding the legacy of this majestic tree, you can enjoy the fruits of your labor and thank the olive tree for its many valuable gifts.


Olives are a common fruit-bearing plant that must be cultivated in suitable climate zones. They are grown in many regions around the world, with production centers in countries such as Italy, Morocco, and Spain. The arbosana and the frantoio are two common olive varieties, each with their own unique characteristics.

The arbosana olive tree is a productive plant with compact foliage. It is often used for canning and producing olive oil. The frantoio olive tree, on the other hand, has taller and more sprawling branches, making it better suited for ornamental purposes. Both varieties can be grown indoors as well.

In terms of cultivation, olives require a Mediterranean climate with mild winters and hot, dry summers. They typically bear fruit in the winter months and need proper care to thrive. Male olive trees are often planted in the region to help with pollination.

The olives themselves can vary in size, color, and taste. Some common varieties include the manzanillo, which is a round, mild-tasting olive, and the mission, which is a black olive with a fruity flavor. The harvest time for olives can vary, but it generally takes several weeks to collect the ripe fruit from the trees.

Once harvested, olives undergo a curing process to remove their bitter taste. This is done through different methods, such as brine curing and dry curing. The curing process can take several months, depending on the desired taste and texture of the olives.

Olives are not only known for their culinary uses but also for their health benefits. They are rich in healthy fats, antioxidants, and vitamins. Olives have been a part of the Mediterranean diet for centuries and are often used in various dishes and salads.

When it comes to pests, olives can be susceptible to certain insects and diseases. Common pests include the olive fruit fly and olive leaf spot. Proper pest control measures should be taken to protect the olive trees and ensure a successful harvest.

In conclusion, olives are a versatile fruit with a long history of cultivation and consumption. They offer a wide range of flavors and can be enjoyed in different forms, such as olive oil, cured olives, or as a fresh ingredient in meals. Whether used in cooking or enjoyed on their own, olives are a delicious and nutritious addition to any diet.


Olives are the fruit of the olive tree, scientifically known as Olea europaea. These trees are typically found in Mediterranean regions where the climate and soils are optimal for their growth.

The olive trees can grow both in the ground and in large pots, making them suitable for both backyard gardens and commercial farms. They are known for their ability to withstand harsh winters and high-density planting, which makes them a popular choice for farmers.

Olives trees have a moderate growth rate, and their size can range from small shrubs to large, tall trees. They can live for many ages, with some olive trees in Europe considered to be centuries old. The trees have dark green, leathery leaves that provide shade and act as a natural barrier against pests and diseases.

The olive tree has both male and female flowers, but each tree typically produces only one type of flower. For pollination and fruit production, it is essential to have both male and female trees in the vicinity. Farmers often plant a mixture of different olive tree varieties to ensure cross-pollination and maximize yield.

The olive fruit is typically harvested when it reaches its optimal size and color, usually in late summer or early fall. Harvesting olives can be done by hand or with the help of machines, depending on the size of the farm and the variety of olives. After harvesting, the olives can be processed into various products such as table olives or olive oil.

Some of the most popular olive tree varieties include Arbequina, Manzanillo, Swan Hill, and Mission. Each variety has its own characteristics and preferred growing conditions. For example, Arbequina olives are known for their high oil content and are often used for olive oil production. Swan Hill olives, on the other hand, are fruitless trees that are primarily grown for their ornamental value.

To keep olive trees healthy and productive, they should be pruned regularly to remove dead or diseased branches. Proper exposure to sunlight and well-drained soils are also crucial for their growth. Farmers in different zones follow specific guidelines and rules for olive tree cultivation.

Olives have been a staple crop for centuries and have left a significant legacy in the culinary world. Whether you enjoy them canned, as table olives, or in various Mediterranean dishes, olives continue to be a popular fruit with immense value.

Planting and Care

When it comes to planting and caring for olive trees, there are a few important things to keep in mind. Here is a guide to help you understand the process:

  1. Choose the right variety: There are many different varieties of olive trees, but some of the most common ones include Frantoio, Mission, and Manzanillo. Each variety has its own characteristics and requirements, so make sure to choose one that is well-suited to your climate and growing conditions.
  2. Find a suitable location: Olive trees thrive in warm climates and need full sun to grow. Make sure to plant them in an area with well-drained soil and good air circulation. Avoid low-lying areas where cold air can settle.
  3. Prepare the ground: Before planting, prepare the soil by removing any weeds or grass and loosening the earth. This will help the roots establish themselves more easily.
  4. Planting the tree: Dig a hole that is twice the size of the tree’s root ball and place the tree in the hole. Backfill the hole with a mixture of soil and organic matter, making sure to tamp down the soil gently to eliminate any air pockets.
  5. Watering and fertilizing: Olive trees have moderate water needs and should be watered regularly, especially during the first few years after planting. Fertilize the tree with a balanced fertilizer in the spring and summer.
  6. Pruning and training: Olive trees need to be pruned regularly to maintain their shape and size. This is usually done in the winter when the tree is dormant. Pruning helps increase the yield and improves air circulation within the tree.
  7. Harvesting: Olives are harvested when they reach their mature color, which can vary depending on the variety and region. The harvesting process usually involves hand-picking or using mechanized equipment. After harvesting, olives are processed to remove any bitter compounds and reduce their moisture content.
  8. Curing and processing: Olives can be cured using various methods, including brine curing, dry curing, or lye curing. Each method produces olives with distinct flavors and textures. Cured olives are often used in cooking or eaten as a snack.
  9. Common pests and diseases: Olive trees are generally resistant to pests and diseases, but they can still be susceptible to certain issues such as olive fruit fly, olive knot, and verticillium wilt. Regular inspection and proper care can help prevent or manage these problems.

By following these planting and care guidelines, you can ensure that your olive trees grow healthy and productive. Whether you’re a seasoned olive farmer or a beginner gardener, these tips will help you enjoy the beauty and bounty of olive trees.

✿ Read More About Fruit Trees.

Dr Heidi Parkes

By Dr Heidi Parkes

Senior Information Extension Officer QLD Dept of Agriculture & Fisheries.