Frequently Asked Questions

Are they green olives or black olives?
Do your trees make table olives or oil olives?
How long before I get fruit?
Can olives be grown in pots?
How do I process the fruit?
How much fruit can one tree bear?
Can they be grown in cold climates?
Is it true that Arbequina is "the olive for Florida" or the only one that will fruit in Florida?
I read somewhere that Arbequna makes the best olive oil. Is that true?
Is it true that olive trees need to be kept dry?

Are they green olives or black olives?


Green and black olives on the same branch
That's a matter of ripeness. All olives left on the tree will eventually ripen to black. Olives can be pickled at any stage of ripeness. "Green ripe olives" are picked at a certain stage of development, when the juice inside turns from clear to milky. Olives to be used for oil are usually left on the tree until at least some color change has occurred. "Black ripe olives" can be ripened on the tree or picked green and turned black in processing, as with "California Black Ripe Olives." See the link below at the question "How do I process the fruit?" for recipes for home processing of olives.

Do your trees make table olives or oil olives?

Wherever olives grown, almost any cultivar of olive is used for both table fruit and oil. References to a particular cultivar's purpose is generalized and refers to the primary commercial purpose of the cultivar. The exception to the rule is a few cultivars that produce very little oil and so are generally used only as table fruit. A large percentage of the Egyptian cultivars fall into this category.

How long before I get fruit?

That is a function of cultivar. 'Arbequina' and 'Koroneiki' fruit at an early age (about 3 years). Other cultivars do not make fruit until they are five to twelve years old. Most olive cultivars will not produce fruit without a pollinator tree of a different cultivar. There are also non-fruiting cultivars of olive. Olives grown from seed may never produce fruit, and if they do, will not likely have the same characteristics as the parent tree.

Can olives be grown in pots?

Yes, but they will require more attention and care than will trees planted in the ground. Most people use a pot that is too small and do not water sufficiently. To keep any tree in a pot for long eventually requires a really big pot. Olive trees can make fruit while growing in pots, but keep in mind that if your olive tree does not put on new growth, you will have little or no fruit the following year. Your olive tree will continue to need light and water if you bring in indoors for the winter; a bright, cool spot out of heater drafts is preferred.

How do I process the fruit?


Olives soaking in brine
The following article from the University of California at Davis describes some of the many ways to process olives at home:
Olives: Safe Methods for Home Pickling

How much fruit can one tree bear?


Arbequina fruit
Semi-dwarf varieties typically bear around 30 or 40 pounds of fruit per year at maturity. Larger cultivars such as 'Mission' can bear up to 100 pounds of fruit in a season, and the giant 'Chemlali' can produce nearly a ton of fruit in one year.

Can they be grown in cold climates?

Superficial damage to olive trees begins when temperatures fall into the low 20s. Significant damage occurs by mid-teens. Single digit temperatures are fatal. Olive trees (especially semi-dwarf cultivars) are easily grown in containers for bringing indoors for protection in winter. We suggest bringing your tree indoors when temperatures dip to below freezing, and taking it back outside on mild days whenever possible. Grow lights should be considered when trees must be indoors for extended periods.

Is it true that Arbequina is "the olive for Florida" or the only one that will fruit in Florida?

Absolutely not. That is one of the many myths promoted by would-be farmers with little or no experience. We have produced fruit in Florida on 12 different cultivars of olive tree.

I read somewhere that Arbequna makes the best olive oil. Is that true?

No, that is not true. Arbequina makes good oil, but several cultivars are more highly regarded in the Mediterranean region for their oil. The properties of any olive oil depend to a large extent upon cultivar but quality is affected by many factors, including the quality of the fruit, stage of ripeness at picking, speed of processing after picking, techniques of extraction and skill of the oil maker.

Is it true that olive trees need to be kept dry?

Absolutely not. Olive tree culture is much the same as for any tree. Though drought resistant after they are thoroughly established, olive trees need a lightly moist but not soggy soil. Under-watered trees will not grow to their potential and may not fruit. Florida's porous sand does not hold water and olive trees can stress quickly during drought conditions. Olive trees grown in containers will need frequent attention to avoid overly dry soil conditions.