olive trees in Maryland?

tropic_of_chesapeake(z7a Md AA Co)April 15, 2005

Does anyone know of any varieties of olive tree, (Olea europaea), that has sufficient hardiness to survive in the ground here in Maryland z7a? I understand that summer humidity and winter cold are the trees enemies. I'm not really concerned about getting fruit, or dealing with the acompanying mess. If it grows here and loses 50% or less of previous years new growth during winter freezes that would be acceptable.



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I've never heard of any that are full-season hardy. Best I've heard is that you can grow them in large tubs & bring them inside for the winter. Apparently they are more cold-sensitive than figs.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2005 at 12:12PM
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Do fig trees survive in zone 7 Virginia? I never heard that they could either.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2005 at 1:28PM
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Yup - figs actually do well in VA Zone 7 with judicious placement & some winter protection.

And in fact, figs do well in Zone 7 NY as well. As I rode the illustrious Long Island Railroad into the city, I passed many Brooklyn fig trees wrapped up in burlap & plastic during the winter.

You can plant them in tubs & bring them in for the winter, or plant them in the ground in a southern exposure - against a structure works best.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2005 at 6:54PM
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- i believe Jefferson tried to introduce the olive to the area but it didn't take. You could try Russian olive, which looks similar - but i suspect it's not a "true" olive. Pretty silver-bellied leaves, though.

- i hunted around for zone-7 hardy figs. Planted a dwarf, as they are said to be hardier than full-sized - and they stay tucked down into the shelter of the micro-climate by the side of the house. Celest and Turkey are also supposed to be hardy here; i've just planted 'em and should know in a year or two. The dwarf seemed fine halfway through winter and then got nibbled to the ground, so we'll see if it comes back or not.

- Happy gardening,

    Bookmark   April 17, 2005 at 5:50PM
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Ugh - awful tree in my opinion. They are semi-naturalized around here because of overuse by developer landscapers. They don't fruit, so you don't get any "olives". What you do get in the spring is an overpowering sickeningly weird/sweet smell from the flowers. And not a nice smell at all.

Buy yourself a REAL olive tree, grow it in a tub, & take it inside for the winter. I'm thinking of doing that myself.

    Bookmark   April 17, 2005 at 11:08PM
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jchandler2730(z7 MD)

I have a good bit of experience in this category. Over the last five years I have attempted to grow olive trees in Maryland (Eastern Shore) in the Easton/Oxford area. What I have found is that the cold weather varieties do OK, but even those succumb to the wet conditions and fierce winters. 2003 was particularly brutal. Olive trees do not survive below 15 deg. F. at their hardiest and most varieties will not survive much below 25 deg. F. In a mild winter, if well-cared for, the branches appear green well into late winter, but as the sap rises, the branches split open, and the trees soon die. I have had some success with trees surviving the winter if I wrap the entire plant in burlap and mulch it heavily, and applying external soil heaters, and opening the burlap on warm days in January. Still, the next spring, most do not do well since most of the top dies back and only the roots survive. The wet spring and early summer kills the roots unless you have planted the root stock on a well draining mound. In the spring, you can expect flower buds in late April and the flowers open in May. By June you will have tiny olives. by July you should have good sized fruits. The summer humidity takes a toll as well, but with regular irrigation, they do OK. Harvest is in very late September or October before first frost, depending on your opinions about when to pick - ripe vs. not ripe.
I now have olives growing in Maryland, and believe that I have the largest olive grove east of the Mississippi with just over 20 trees. The varieties I have found best are the Frantoio and Leccino varieties, but even these require great effort and desire to keep them going.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2005 at 10:06PM
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lrobins(z5 CO)

May I suggest:

the White Fringetree or Old Man's Beard Tree, Chionanthus virginicus, a small ornamental tree (to large shrub) that is native to our area, easy to grow, and beautiful in flower. The connection is that the White Fringetree is in the Olive family (Oleaceae) and has somewhat olive-like fruit. The following links give a good idea of the charm of this plant:



Here is a link that might be useful: White Fringetree factsheet

    Bookmark   August 4, 2005 at 12:22AM
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`We live in S.central Pa,my old neighbor had one growing in her back yard.It was pretty big.Dont know the name but was an olive tree.

    Bookmark   August 4, 2005 at 9:19AM
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How are your olives doing in Maryland? What variety are they?

Today, Oct 19th 2007 we are getting twenty Mission olive trees for North Mississippi. This is the most cold hardy variety, hardy to 8 deg F. We are also zone 7A. It hasn't gone below 10 deg F in the last ten years but I remember it going to 6 below zero with a high of 5 deg F in the 80's. I dont know if they would survive if it made it to zero.

I have one Arbequina already growing. I talked to a grower in Texas who advised me only the Mission had a decent chance here so thats what i'm planting. I plan to mix about 50% composted cow manure with the soil and use some pea gravel and lime. Does this sound ok? I originally planned on using cement sand to improve drainage but several people have told me sand plus clay = cement so I won't add sand. Any advise on planting or wrapping with burlap for the winter would be appreciated. Its hot here in the summer but can get cold in the winter. Right now its still in the high 80's but is supposed to go in the 50s next week.


    Bookmark   October 19, 2007 at 8:08AM
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Hi to everybody,
i'm italian from the north part, Verona, and i have 80 plants there of, Frantoio Pendolino etc.I just moved from italy and I was wondering if I can plant an olive tree in Long Island,NY.
I think to choose the Arbequina quality, is good for the winter, but i'm not so sure. Right now i have just planted 2 olive's tree, and i've no idea if they can survive or not in the winter, for now i gonna bring inside everywinter they are still 3 feet high so is a preatty easy job...but for the future....will see. Any suggest about the kind of plant that is kind of good for this area?? Thank you so much and so sorry for my english.


    Bookmark   May 1, 2008 at 10:17AM
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I just planted 3 Arbequina olive trees. I live in Monmouth county NJ and am aprox 2 miles from ocean which might help. I plan on keeping them outside and covering them when it gets below 20 F. It does get around 10 F for winter low which will definetly kill an unprotected young tree(mine are approx 3 feet).I've read about two methods for winter protection..Both include mulching heavily. One from a previous post was use a tomato cage and cover with tempershield?. The other is cover with burlap and fill half way with leaves. I also plan to string Christmas lights around trees and fire them up when needed. I'm planting on the top of slope facing southwest with maximum sun exposure. The area is well drained and am planting near small retaining wall which will provide some "wind cover" for plants. Not sure if I will be succesful but I'm going to give it try. I also gave my relatives which live in Staten Island two trees. Wish me luck or any advice is appreciated. Good luck in Long Island!!

    Bookmark   May 1, 2008 at 11:21PM
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"Real" producing Olive trees might do well here ("Mock" olives already grow here up on Rt. 301 in Centreville), if they are protected from the wind, and next to a wall facing the sun, like our fig trees.

We have lived in Grasonville, Maryland, on the Eastern Shore, for about 19 years, and have 3 huge mature fig trees. They are approx. 12 years old, 20 ft.+ in height, and 8-10 in. diameter each, and are behind our garage. The trunks are strong and sturdy, and keep growing a little taller each year. We have never had to burlap them in the winter. They produce about 2 bushels of the sweetest, tastiest fresh figs that you could hope for, every summer. Our friends and co-workers really like them.

My wife and I planted them from small cuttings from my Mom's fig "bushes" up in Baltimore County, that we previously gave her as a gift in the early 90's. However, ours grew into huge trees. I suppose it is because of the moderating temperatures of Eastern Bay, which is right across the street. Also, we think the Southeast exposure behind the garage protects them from the wind coming off the Bay, and reflects more heat from the sun, producing a sort of micro-climate which the fig trees seem to like.

    Bookmark   July 6, 2008 at 11:51PM
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I was just out identifying some trees in the back acre of my folks' house in southern Michigan. I had one tree that none of the on-line Tree ID applications could match.

Turns out it's an olive tree. In Michigan. What idiot plants an olive tree in Michigan?

The surprising thing is that it is surviving, more or less, despite vicious winters and humid summers. It's not in good shape -- half the branches are dead, the trunk is covered in lichen and mildew/mold/moss(not sure) and it has never fruited in the ten years my folks have been in this house. Also, the trunk looks wounded near the ground so I think either it has rot or something is chewing on it.

Nevertheless, somehow it has gotten about 18 feet tall and fairly wide.

I was wondering what variety of olive could possibly survive in lower Michigan, even in such terrible shape.

I was also wondering if there was anything that could be done for it aside from putting it out of its misery...

(And no, it's not a Russian Olive, I checked. It's a real olive. Here's a picture of the branch I took for identification.)

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   July 9, 2008 at 1:54PM
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Idiot growing Olive Trees in Michigan....that's pretty funny. I actually stumbled on this page because I was to find out how to grow an Olive Tree.....suprise....I live in Southern Michigan. I had to laugh. Did you ever get any info on your parents Olive Tree?

    Bookmark   July 14, 2008 at 2:59PM
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manure_queen(md 7)

I am no longer doing upholstery and have Abt 2yds of furniture quality 56" wide burlap that needs a home. I live in PG Co not too far from Andrews AFB
verizon dot net

    Bookmark   July 16, 2008 at 10:21AM
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I lived in Michigan next to a lady who dug her fig tree up and buried it at the end of every year. It grew back fine each year. I wonder can you do the same with an olive tree?

An above ground cover stuffed or quilted with hay? two tarps one over the tree, the other to hold in the hay stuffing?

I want 2 and have given up on grafting them in any way myself. I guess those numbers given to rootstocks don't have names and there are no seeds available to buy for them. That kind of kills the "do it yourself" people wanting to experience of the real creation of the fruit bearing tree.

I researched apple trees and gave that idea up then. I know they graft olive trees too, or I thought they did.

What about Olive trees in Tennessee? The northwest corner, zone 6? We have ice storms, but it can be 70 degrees in the middle of winter too. We have odd weather!

Can they be clipped so they cannot grow above 10 or 12 feet ever without living in a pot?

    Bookmark   October 16, 2008 at 6:44PM
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thank you, thank you! i've found a new love of olives (and turkish and greece folk music which i'm sure is unrelated but is wonderful and i highly recommend) but i live in the mountains of va and pulled this up curious if i was the only one insane enough to try olives in such a unforgiving environment. apparently i'm not and i now have hope, but am curious with all of these posts being before the 2010 blizzard, how are the trees holding up? please let me know before i spring for some imported olive trees. thanks and hope they are doing well.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2011 at 10:53PM
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Like organic_angus I'm interested in this as well. I live in Northern VA and have found grapes grow well and wondered if olives (another "Mediterranean" fruit) would grow here. Especially considering the 2010 blizzard o_a mentions?

    Bookmark   June 9, 2011 at 8:47PM
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jchandler2730(z7 MD)

Seven years later, my trees are doing OK in Talbot County, MD. The trees range in size from 3 to 8 ft tall and up to to 2 1/2 inch caliper. Fruit tends to be heavier in alternate years like most olive trees. The most I have gotten from 20 trees is about three pounds of olives per crop, which I have learned to cure properly. I am working on a way to press them for oil next time I get a heavy crop.

Flowers tend to be budding late March (now) and are ripe in mid September through early October. Scale is really the only pest that is a real problem. Very little fruit is damaged by other insects. The deer have left the trees alone. Last summer we had a lot of locusts, but they didn't do damage. I have had a good bit of the branches die back for no apparent reason at times, but it might be due to inconsistent irrigation.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2012 at 11:17PM
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I have two Arbequina young trees just starting their first winter. I am leaving them out and unprotected. I will re-post in the spring to update on their health.

    Bookmark   December 13, 2013 at 6:12PM
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davidrt28 (zone 7)

JChandler...let us know how your trees survive this winter, which is now looking like the coldest since the mid 1990s.

I can imagine that the milder coastal parts of Talbot County might have averaged close to zn 8b for the past 10 years, as they have been rather mild. Even though I'm at the cold end of the Bay, until this winter I was averaging zn 8a since 2006. So far I've hit 3F, which is very close to what the new USDA super detailed zone map says should be my average winter low.

I hope you don't lose them but I would expect some injury. OTOH it will be interesting to know if they get hardier w/age. Certainly some of the coldest parts of the Mediterranean have dipped below 10F in Europe's coldest winters ever, and I bet some of the old olives survived that. For example Montpellier, France has hit 0F.

    Bookmark   January 25, 2014 at 10:14AM
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davidrt28 (zone 7)

I hope we hear from jchandler2730 again, but my guess is that these trees are dead as doornails.

    Bookmark   April 13, 2014 at 11:18AM
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My two poor Arbequina trees got obliterated in their first Baltimore winter. That was about the worst winter to introduce such trees to. I have done some reading and they may not have root death so its possible they will come back to life. I will know by June/July.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2014 at 12:13AM
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davidrt28 (zone 7)

Thanks for your report: but if this winter completely killed my almost 10 year old rosemary, which had a 4" trunk, I doubt a newly planted olive can return, even from the roots. Unless you were mulching it with spent nuclear fuel rods LOL.

    Bookmark   April 27, 2014 at 4:43PM
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Just noticed fresh buds on my in ground arbequina. I was almost ready to rip it out since most of the branches died. My tree is a young tree from a 3 gallon pot planted early this winter before all of the polar vortices hit.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2014 at 8:30PM
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davidrt28 (zone 7)

Yeehova, where are you that is zone 8a in the Midatlantic? Virginia Beach?

    Bookmark   May 12, 2014 at 12:14PM
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I guess I am not really mid atlantic in NC but the climate here is similar to VB. I was searching for an arbequina past since mine pulled through last winter and after reading this thread I thought I would post the result. Maybe Oulous has a live tree after all.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2014 at 8:28PM
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jchandler2730(z7 MD)

I neglected to emphasize that the olive trees are in clay pots and come inside during the winter. They cannot survive below 25F no matter what, and through trial and error, I've learned that fact. Even if they survive, when the sap rises, the stems all split and the plant will die, just like my big bay laurel that was in the ground this past winter, and the mission figs (but the Celeste fig had no damage at all.)

Last year i didn't take the olive trees out soon enough and the flowers arrived while inside and quickly got burned up by too much heat. This past year, the trees came inside in late November and went out in late February. It was a cold spring, but not below 25F after i took the trees outside (but I was closely watching the weather station.)

The budding started very late this year - about three weeks ago. Most years, the buds appeared in March or April. This year, very late.

I was told that someone else had trees in the ground in St. Michaels for the last ten years, and those had survived many winters. But not 2013/2014 - this was the lowest temp since 2002 for me. About 5F, and in 2002, it was -5F. Again - 25F is the lower limit that I have been able to count on.

    Bookmark   June 16, 2014 at 5:35PM
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