Olive trees’ proven versatility


A commonly asked question about olives is which plant should be purchased: a black or green olive? 

There are different qualities and flavours, but the simple answer is that the colour determines whether or not they are ripe. Black and green olives are found on a tree together, black being ripe, whilst green need to be pickled.

What a versatile tree. It is wonderful for a Mediterranean style garden, a formal garden, or even a tropical garden. Why is that? It is the colour of the foliage, grey works perfectly with white formal gardens, where lavender is planted with a border of buxus. This also work with a row of white standard Iceberg roses.

One of the olives best qualities is being hardy and adaptable to coastal conditions as well as hot and dry area. This hardy tree will grow virtually anywhere in Australia where there is a cool winter and a warm summer. They are happy in average daily maximum temperature above 30 degrees, but they can survive as high as 50 degrees.

Some varieties prefer a winter frost, while some survive and grow well in frost free areas as long as the winters are cool enough.

Be careful when planting out new trees if the temperature falls below minus five degrees.

Olives require very little water as an ornamental, but a productive plant will require some watering before spring for a good fruit set. Heavy rain produces better, fleshier table olives – it reduces the oil percentage.

The olive is drought hardy, as I have just proved. I hate to admit my olives have been really neglected water-wise but are still growing and happy.

They will tolerate most types of soil conditions, preferring a neutral pH. Fertilising is relatively simple – prepare the soil with manure before planting, adding lime if the soil is too acidic, then apply a neutral pH fertiliser annually in autumn/winter.


*St. Patrick’s Day is not far away. Last week I suggested liming the soil ready for planting, next Tuesday is the traditional day to plant sweet peas.

*Treat bare patches in the lawn where army grub or the drought has hit… a couple of tricks to get lawns perfect now we have had rain. Fertilise, of course, but also use a lawn top dressing to encourage new growth and water bear patches with Searls Green Flourish, which gives an instant kick.

*Dust cabbage plants to deter cabbage moths and butterflies.

*Autumn is an ideal time to plant out new trees and shrubs.

More Gardening:

Ideal time to grow winter vegetables