Olive Trees have been cultivated for several thousand years and the health benefits of olive oil are well known. When you combine that with toughness, resistance to drought and rugged beauty they become a top choice for low-maintenance gardening in warmer regions. These trees develop gnarled, twisted trunks with a low crown of grey-green leaves and they can even be used for privacy screens, windbreaks or as a picturesque feature in any garden. Hardy varieties like the Arbequina Olive Tree will grow from zones 7 to 11, so from Virginia to Oklahoma and southwards, as well as all through the west, you can grow this beautiful tree and enjoy a harvest of tasty olives.
Growing Arbequina Olive Trees
Choose a sunny, warm location to plant your Olive Trees and dig some organic material like compost or rotted manure into the area. If your soil is acidic add some lime to the soil. When young your trees should be watered each week for the first season and then only during extended drought periods.
Olive trees thrive in well-drained soils that are neutral to alkaline. Once established they are highly resistant to drought and have few if any pests and diseases. Young shoots may be eaten by deer so provide some protection for newly planted trees. Once established watering is rarely needed but periodic deep soakings can increase the yield. The simplest fertilizer is to put rich organic mulch, like compost or manure, over the root zone each spring.
Growing in a Pot
To grow your Arbequina Olive Tree in a pot, choose a large pot around 24 inches in diameter with a drain hole. Use a mixture of potting soil and coarse sand or grit, mixing 4 parts potting soil with one part of sand. Always water the pot thoroughly so that water runs out of the drain-hole, but let the soil become moderately dry between each watering. Never leave your tree standing in a saucer of water.
Use a balanced liquid fertilizer regularly from spring to early fall. Place your tree outdoors in the sunniest, warmest place you can find and leave it outdoors as much as possible. It will easily take 200F and trees planted in the ground can stand 150F. When you do need to bring it indoors find a bright, cool place for it, as flowers will not develop if the tree is always kept warm. Once you have brought it inside you should not put it out again when the temperature is close to or below freezing, so wait for slightly warmer weather to return.
Pruning is only needed to remove shoots close to the base of your tree to maintain a trunk, but that trunk should be kept short with the lowest branches 4 feet from the ground. Any strong upright shoots that develop – these are called water-shoots – should be cut off at the stem they are shooting from as they will distort the shape of your tree and delay fruiting.
Eating the Olives
Olives from the Arbequina do need some processing before they can be eaten, but the task is simple and requires no special equipment. If you plant several trees, then the small amount of equipment needed to produce your own oil can be a worthwhile investment when you start dressing your salads with your own unique cold-pressed extra-virgin top-quality oil straight from your own trees.
History and Origins of the Arbequina Olive Tree
The Olive Tree (Olea europaea) originated in the countries around the Mediterranean, but it has been grown in America for a surprisingly long time. Spanish Missionaries brought it to California before the end of the 18th century. The Arbequina Olive Tree is a small to medium-sized tree 15 to 30 feet tall, but with pruning it can easily be kept to just 12 to 15 feet tall. The crown is broad and rounded, and the trunk is thick and dark-grey, with deep ridges and grooves in the bark.
Even quite young trees have a lot of character, and over time the trunk becomes twisted which creates a picturesque, rugged beauty. The leaves are about 4 inches long and an inch wide and they are a silvery green color. The flowers appear in spring as fluffy greenish-white sprays and they are followed by the olives. These are green and pea-like when young, but gradually develops into a deep-purple to black fruit that ripens in the fall.
The Arbequina Olive Tree has a complex history. It was introduced into Spain from Palestine in the 17th century and later brought to California. It has become one of the most widely grown olive varieties because of its hardiness to cold, resistance to pests and its ability to also withstand drought and heat. So if you live in a hot and dry region, or a colder area, this tree makes an ideal choice. It can be used to grow eating olives and to produce rich, fruity oil, that is mild enough for everyone to enjoy.
Buying Arbequina Olive Trees at The Tree Center
The Arbequina Olive Tree is a special variety that must be correctly produced to maintain its special qualities and hardiness. Our trees are produced the correct way from special trees kept to produce new plants. Beware of cheaper plants that are not called ‘Arbequina’ as these will not be the plant you need and will only be a disappointment. Our Arbequina Olive Trees are true to the original cold-resistant and hardy stock, and they are top-quality trees. We are constantly receiving new stock so that our customers receive quality plants in peak condition. Shortages can occur with this popular variety of Olive Tree, so order now to avoid disappointment.