How to Grow an Olive Tree from a Pit – A Complete Guide

With their graceful silvery foliage and tasty fruit olive trees hold an irresistible appeal for many gardeners. If you love olives, have you considered growing your own olive tree from a pit? With a bit of patience and care you can propagate olive trees at home using pits from fresh olives.

An Overview of Olive Tree Growth

Before we dive into the details of olive pit propagation, let’s look at some key facts about olive trees:

  • Olive trees thrive in Mediterranean climates with warm, dry summers and mild, rainy winters. They are only hardy in USDA zones 8-10.

  • Given ideal growing conditions, olive trees grow at a slow to moderate rate, increasing about 1-2 feet per year when young

  • It takes at least 5-6 years for an olive tree to begin fruit production, and 10+ years to reach full maturity and yield.

  • Mature olive trees reach heights of 15-30 feet with equal spread. Some ancient olive trees can exceed 50 feet tall.

  • Olive trees are long-lived and can continue fruiting for centuries if cared for properly.

Knowing what to expect from an olive tree will help determine if this project is right for you. Now let’s look at propagating an olive tree from a pit.

Sourcing Fresh Olive Pits

The first step is getting fresh olive pits. Pits from store-bought olives won’t work because they are processed and treated. For the best chance of success, source uncured ripe olives right off a tree, or purchase fresh, untreated olives.

Green unripe olives or black ripe olives will both work, as long as they are fresh. Remove the flesh, rinse the pits well, and nick them with bolt cutters on the narrow end to enable moisture absorption.

Soak the pits in room temperature water for 24 hours before planting to initiate germination. Change the water once during soaking.

Planting and Caring for Olive Pits

Olive pits take consistency and dedication to sprout – but it can be done with care. Follow these tips:

  • Plant pits in a free-draining potting mix of half sand and half seed starting soil.

  • Bury pits about 1 inch deep, with the nicked end facing down.

  • Maintain soil moisture but avoid excess watering that causes rotting.

  • Keep pits warm – around 70°F is ideal for sprouting. Consider a seedling heat mat.

  • Partial sunlight is better than full sun at first to prevent drying out.

  • Watch for sprouts in 2-3 months. Acclimate seedlings slowly to more sun.

  • When they have 4 sets of leaves, transplant into slightly larger containers.

Some patience is required, as olive pits can take 2-4 months to germinate. Don’t give up right away if they don’t sprout immediately. With dedicated care, you can coax those olive seeds into young seedlings!

Caring for Young Olive Trees

Once sprouted, olive seedlings need attentive care:

  • Water whenever the top inch of soil is dry. Avoid moisture stress.

  • Transition to full sunlight over a week or two once established.

  • Repot into larger containers as the tree grows. Use free-draining potting soil.

  • Apply balanced liquid fertilizer every 2-3 weeks during the growing season.

  • Bring trees indoors if temperatures drop below 40°F.

  • Prune lightly in early summer to encourage branching and shape growth.

With diligent watering, ample sunlight, nutrition, and protection from cold, your olive seedling will slowly transform into a small olive tree!

Transplanting to the Garden

After 2-3 years in pots, your young olive tree will be ready to transplant to the garden, if you live in a suitable climate. Select a site with:

  • Full sun exposure

  • Well-draining soil with a pH of 6.0-8.0

  • Shelter from strong winds, which can damage branches

  • Sufficient room for the tree to reach its mature size

Before transplanting, harden off the olive tree by slowly reducing watering and moving it outdoors into partial shade. Transplant in early spring after the last frost using care to minimize root disturbance. Stake the tree for support while it establishes over the first year.

Ongoing Care of Mature Trees

Once your olive tree is happily growing in the garden, continue providing for its needs:

  • Water young trees regularly until well established. Then water only during droughts.

  • Apply a balanced fertilizer in early spring as growth resumes.

  • Prune annually in summer to shape and thin crowded branches.

  • Weed and mulch around the tree to reduce competition.

  • Protect from frost and freezing temperatures in winter.

With attentive care and optimal growing conditions, your homemade olive tree will reward you with aromatic foliage and eventually, homegrown olives!

Troubleshooting Olive Pits

Not every olive pit will sprout – expect some failures along the way. If your pits fail to germinate, try the following troubleshooting tips:

  • Verify pits are fresh, not from cured olives. Old pits often don’t sprout.

  • Discard any pits with cracks, mold, or rot rather than planting them.

  • Ensure soil and ambient temperatures are sufficiently warm, around 70°F.

  • Avoid overwatering that leads to fungal issues. Let soil dry out between waterings.

  • Give them more than 2 months before giving up. Some can take up to 4 months to sprout.

  • Try nicking the pits a little deeper or soaking them longer to break dormancy.

With trial and error, you can discover the best methods for your conditions. Don’t get discouraged by initial failures. The victory of sprouting your first olive pit makes it all worthwhile!

The Rewards of Growing Olive Trees

Propagating an olive tree from a pit requires time and diligent care. But the end result is a very special tree with unique genetics, nurtured by you from seed to sapling. The satisfaction of growing your own olive tree is well worth the effort.


  • {“smallUrl”:”https://www. wikihow. com/s/thumb/2/2c/Grow-an-Olive-Tree-from-a-Pit-Step-1-Version-2. jpg/v4-460px-Grow-an-Olive-Tree-from-a-Pit-Step-1-Version-2. jpg”,”bigUrl”:”/s/thumb/2/2c/Grow-an-Olive-Tree-from-a-Pit-Step-1-Version-2. jpg/aid1601845-v4-728px-Grow-an-Olive-Tree-from-a-Pit-Step-1-Version-2. 1. Choose the kind of tree you want to plant. Around the world, there are hundreds of different kinds of olive trees. Some are pretty much the same, with only small differences in color and taste. Others are very different and have changing tastes that affect when the fruit is ready to be picked. When it comes to California, the four main types are Mission, Manzanillo, Sevillano, and Ascolano. Even though they are grown in the same state, the different climates and types of olives used make the results very different. Do a lot of research on your area to find out what kind of olive will grow well there. If you plant seeds, the trees that grow from them will be more different from each other than the trees that the seeds came from.
  • {“smallUrl”:”https://www. wikihow. com/s/thumb/6/67/Grow-an-Olive-Tree-from-a-Pit-Step-2-Version-2. jpg/v4-460px-Grow-an-Olive-Tree-from-a-Pit-Step-2-Version-2. jpg”,”bigUrl”:”/s/thumb/6/67/Grow-an-Olive-Tree-from-a-Pit-Step-2-Version-2. jpg/aid1601845-v4-728px-Grow-an-Olive-Tree-from-a-Pit-Step-2-Version-2. jpg”,”smallWidth”:460,”smallHeight”:345,”bigWidth”:728,”bigHeight”:546,”licensing”:”License: Creative Commons</a> </p> </p></div>”} 2 Gather olives. It may seem simple, but the fruit has to be taken right off the tree to keep the seed alive. Olive trees prosper in climate zones 8-11. [1] These areas have a subtropical climate and mild winters. Pick them in early fall, when the fruits are green and ripe. Leave the black ones. Don’t pick any off the ground, and make sure the ones you pick don’t have holes in them from bugs. Using olives purchased from a grocery store will not work. These have been made ready to eat, which means they’ve been cooked. In this process, the seeds inside the pit are killed, so they can’t grow. Raw olives from the produce section may be viable, though. A lot of big orchards will ship pits and seeds straight to you if you don’t have access to an olive tree. Advertisement .
  • {“smallUrl”:”https://www. wikihow. com/s/thumb/9/98/Grow-an-Olive-Tree-from-a-Pit-Step-3-Version-2. jpg/v4-460px-Grow-an-Olive-Tree-from-a-Pit-Step-3-Version-2. jpg”,”bigUrl”:”/s/thumb/9/98/Grow-an-Olive-Tree-from-a-Pit-Step-3-Version-2. jpg/aid1601845-v4-728px-Grow-an-Olive-Tree-from-a-Pit-Step-3-Version-2. 3. Put the olives in a bucket.{p><</p><</div> Once you have the olives, use a hammer to gently hit the flesh to loosen the fruit around the pit. Put warm water over the crushed olives and let them soak overnight. Stir the water every few hours or so. Jostling them will encourage the fruit to loosen further. If you don’t have a hammer, use the flat side of a wide knife to break things. If you see some floating to the top, pick them up and throw them away. They are likely rotten.
  • {“smallUrl”:”https://www. wikihow. com/s/thumb/a/a8/Grow-an-Olive-Tree-from-a-Pit-Step-4-Version-2. jpg/v4-460px-Grow-an-Olive-Tree-from-a-Pit-Step-4-Version-2. jpg”,”bigUrl”:”/s/thumb/a/a8/Grow-an-Olive-Tree-from-a-Pit-Step-4-Version-2. jpg/aid1601845-v4-728px-Grow-an-Olive-Tree-from-a-Pit-Step-4-Version-2. jpg”,”smallWidth”:460,”smallHeight”:345,”bigWidth”:728,”bigHeight”:546,”licensing”:”License: Creative Commons</a> </p> </p></div>”} 4 Drain the water. Get the pits together and use a scour pad to get rid of the extra skin. It looks like you use this pad on pots and pans. After rubbing the skin, wash the pits well for a few minutes in warm water. If a scour pad is not available, try sandpaper.
  • {“smallUrl”:”https://www. wikihow. com/s/thumb/3/33/Grow-an-Olive-Tree-from-a-Pit-Step-5-Version-2. jpg/v4-460px-Grow-an-Olive-Tree-from-a-Pit-Step-5-Version-2. jpg”,”bigUrl”:”/s/thumb/3/33/Grow-an-Olive-Tree-from-a-Pit-Step-5-Version-2. jpg/aid1601845-v4-728px-Grow-an-Olive-Tree-from-a-Pit-Step-5-Version-2. Five, cut the pits off at the ends. Every olive pit has a blunt end and a pointy end. With a knife, nick the blunt end. If you break through the hull all the way, the seed won’t work. Make a tiny hole about the size of a pen tip instead. Soak these for 24 hours in room temperature water. [2] .
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Pick ripe green olives straight from an olive tree in early fall to grow an olive tree from a pit. Use a hammer to gently break up the olives so that the fruit around the seeds comes loose. Then, soak the olives in a bucket of warm water overnight. Take the olives out of the water, remove the pits, and use a scouring pad to get rid of any extra fruit. Cut off the pointy end of each pit with a knife. Then, soak the pits for 24 hours in water that is room temperature. Start each pit in a 3-inch (7. 6 cm) clay pot filled with 1 part coarse sand and 1 part seed compost. Plant the seeds 1-2 inches (2. 5-5 cm) deep in the soil and place each pot in a closed, transparent polythene bag. Put the pots in a well-lit area and water them any time the top ¼ inch (. 6 cm) of soil dries out. Take the pots out of the bags once the pits start to sprout. When the seedlings reach about 18 inches (46 cm) tall, transplant them outside in early fall. Plant them in a spot with well-draining soil and lots of direct sunlight. It will take about 3 years for your olive trees to bear fruit. For more tips from our Gardening reviewer, including how to transplant your olive tree outdoors, keep reading!.

How to Grow an Olive Tree from a Pit


Can an olive tree grow from an olive pit?

Yes, you can grow an olive pit, but there’s one caveat – it has to be a “fresh” pit, not a pit from a store bought olive. The olives that we eat are preserved, and are unlikely to engender olive pit propagation.

Can you grow an olive tree indoors from seed?

So, can olive trees grow indoors? The short answer: Yes, but not indefinitely. Olive trees need full sun. They will not survive indefinitely indoors, but we can grow an olive tree in a container positioned outside in spring and summer and brought inside for the winter.

Can you grow an olive tree from a pit?

Yes, you can start growing an olive tree from a pit, also called a seed, in autumn when the olive fruits are ripe. However, the success rate of olive pit propagation is very low, so you should use many olive pits or seeds to start growing your own olive tree. How long does it take to grow an olive tree from seed?

How do you grow an olive tree from seed?

Thoroughly mix the soil together using a spoon, stick or your hand. Plant the seeds. Sow the seed an inch or two deep in the soil. It’s best to plant one seed per pot. This way, the seeds aren’t battling over nutrients. Plant several more seeds than you want trees. Olives have a low germination rate, even under the best conditions.

How do you grow olives in a greenhouse?

Plant several more seeds than you want trees. Olives have a low germination rate, even under the best conditions. Bag the pots. Place the pots inside a clear polythene bag. This will help maintain some moisture and work as a greenhouse of sorts. Keep the pot in a well-lit area that is warm.

How do you propagate olive trees?

Gather 10 olives for every 1 tree that you hope to propagate. Place the olives in a large plastic bowl and use a kitchen mallet to lightly crush the olives. The flesh should be loosened from the seeds but not fully removed at this stage of preparation. Cover the crushed olives with water and allow them to soak for 24 hours.

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