Plant an olive tree in my garden



How to plant one or more olive trees, tree symbol of peace, strength and eternity? Where can we plant? What land does it take? And after, how to treat it? Our advice for planting and maintaining an olive tree. A best of Cotemaison.fr ...

Planting an olive tree offers a dimension of well being and lightness in the garden. So why deprive yourself? For all that, avoid rushing. Planting and maintaining an olive tree requires a few precautions.

Where to plant an olive tree?

The olive tree is the Mediterranean tree par excellence. It prefers warm climates and fears over rain and frost. However, the olive tree is also grown in pots, where it can live for a long time, as long as it has been indoors when the thermometer drops below -5 ° C.

Is my garden suitable for olive trees?

Yes, even if your soil is a little stony and provided it is not too wet. The olive tree does not like stagnant water. "You need draining soil", insists Michel Lis, passionate gardener and author of many books on his art. On the other hand, avoid the land oriented towards the north, the olive tree is a tree of light.

How to proceed to plant an olive tree?

By ensuring that the soil and the location of the place are perfectly adapted. If you plan to plant several olive trees, your room of agriculture will help you to obtain the addresses of laboratories specialized in the analysis of the grounds, the conditions of luminosity, temperature and irrigation of the ground, etc. The goal is to provide olive groves with optimal growing and flowering conditions.

Read also: 17 pictures of gardens with olive trees

Which variety of olive trees to choose?

There are nearly 2000 varieties of olive trees in the world of which a hundred are cultivated in France, mainly in the South. For example, "In the Alpes-Maritimes, the best variety is the cailletier, the olive tree of Nice," advises Jean Mus, a specialist in Mediterranean gardens, who likes to caress the silhouette and colors of the olive tree of Provence among the lavenders. But you can also plant Grasse, Ribier, Cayet or Picholine.

"In the Var, there are about ten" small regions "with their specific varieties (about forty)," says Jean-Marie Rey, nurseryman in the department, which cultivates 159 different varieties in its wood preservative park.

I plant a single olive tree

A young plant will grow better, but you can plant a 3-year-old olive tree, 10 years old or older. It all depends on your impatience! Well nourished and watered, the olive tree can grow 1 meter per year. Very plastic, it is very short if it remains ornamental. "If you dream of a" vangoghesque "or" Cézanne "aspect, let him have a more disheveled form, advises Jean-Marie Rey.

If you plant it in pots, choose a container with a perforated bottom so as to allow the evacuation of excess water. And install it in a mixture of potting soil, top soil and sand (or gravel).

I plant an orchard of olive trees

Olive trees need to be pollinated to produce in abundance. It is therefore necessary to install one or more varieties with the dominant variety, even in a small orchard, with 10% of other varieties. In an orchard, the traditional spacing is 6 m, and at least 4 m.

How to plant an olive tree?

Make a hole at least four times the dimensions of the container. If the tree has bare roots, which is possible for very old subjects, cut drastically: remove all foliage and small branches. Plant in trunk at the earliest in March. Set up a watering bowl.

Water abundantly at planting and once every fortnight at least the first year, or even weekly if it is very hot and dry. "Then, spray, in summer, about three times a week, then only once or twice the rest of the year," advises Laurent Manzo Pierre Pétrinière Basset, in the Var.

When to plant an olive tree?

The olive tree is planted in spring and autumn. June marks the beginning of the formation of the olive, called the fruit set. After that the precious fruits are harvested between mid-November and January.

The eye of the landscape

Former gardener of Serre de la Madone, Benoît Bourdeau is a gardening consultant in Menton (Alpes-Maritimes):

The olive tree is spectacular treated in meadow, as in the Villa Noailles in Grasse (Alpes-Maritimes). Turn the soil around in October, plant the spring bulbs in autumn (wild tulips, blanda anemones, scilles from Peru ...), and in spring the autumn bulbs (sternbergias, crocuses, cyclamens of Naples ...). Sow a mixture of flower seeds and grass (Baumaux Seeds): at flowering, the seeds will take over the bulbs. Keep a round of soil around trees, water, put manure. You can also associate olive and mimosa, olive and wisteria, olive and climbing rose - 'Senator Lafolette' (pale pink), 'Mermaid' (which looks like a yellow eglantine), 'Belle Portugaise' (deep pink).

Maintain an olive tree

I put fertilizer

According to the provencal proverb, the olive tree says to the man: "Smoke my foot at Easter, I will grease you at Christmas!" Follow this sage advice reported by Michel Lis! Then go to the practical work, directed by Jean-Marie Rey: "Bury slightly 200 g of granular manure per m2 at 20 cm (mix it with the soil), then fertilize from the second year or at the end of the second year: bring 100 g of phosphate and ammonia in a 3-m circle around each plant. "

I'm caring for my olive tree

The olive tree is a very hardy tree, and therefore very resistant, so care more about its olives, which fear the fly of the olive (use traps). Against the fungi that damage the leaves, spray the foliage with Bordeaux mixture. Remember to watch olive oil warnings in your regional newspaper. If, despite your care, your olive tree loses its leaves, it is because it lacks light. If you can, move it to a better exposed place.

I size the olive tree

To get a good harvest, follow the advice of this other Provençal proverb evoked by Michel Lis: a small bird must be able to cross the olive tree without its wings (20-30 cm wingspan) touching the branches! So you have to cut fairly clearly. : not before three years after planting. The first two years, eliminate the low branches and remove the fruits. (your tree has reached about 1.50 m in height): delete the central branch. Select a maximum of five carpenter branches. Size from this frame. Eliminate branches and twigs that cross at the center of the tree. cut on the top.

Do not over prune the branches, olives come on the branches that grew the previous year (light green). Cut the old branches (darker) - the branches that have borne fruits will no longer produce - the departures parallel or overlapping, greedy, dead wood. You can take a size class in an association or use specialized pruners. Go to the mills that make olive oil (addresses here). In February-March or between the end of October and December, depending on climate and varieties.

The olive harvest

I harvest

From fairy hands to shaking machines, everything is possible, explains Jean-Marie Rey. For one or a few trees, use a comb purchased in a mill or in a specialized store (agricultural cooperative). In an orchard, arrange the net curtains and harvest your olives within 48 hours.

When to harvest olives?

Before it gets too cold. In general, late October to December, green olives end of September-early October. Each variety has its specificities. The aglandau is harvested green. Nyons olive, black. There is a white olive that was used in Italy for sacramental oils and gives a very clear oil.

I choose my mill

It takes 5 kg of olives to make 1 liter of oil. Small private mills accept confidential crops. Know also that cooperatives do not necessarily mix your olives with others, even in small quantities. In addition, there are small craft mills that allow you to make your own oil. Find out about agricultural cooperatives and the French Interprofessional Association of Olive (Afidol).

I make cuttings

"The olive tree has the memory of its youth, it is a baby at the base and an adult at the top," says Jean-Marie Rey. Take your cuttings in the upper parts so that they are the age of the subject taken. If you take off at the base of the tree, you will get juvenile cuttings that will take longer to develop. The olive tree can always regenerate, which is why it is eternal: "A hundred-year-old olive tree is still a child!" What luck!

Many thanks to Jean-Marie Rey, former director of Pépinières Jean Rey for his valuable advice.



Nursery of Gaudissart, 261 Chemin des Collés, 06140 Vence, tel. 04 93 58 10 40. The favorite nursery of the landscape gardener Jean Mus, a specialist in the Mediterranean garden.

Jean Rey Nurseries. Seven addresses in Provence-Alpes-Côte-d'Azur. www.jeanrey.fr. The requirement of nurseryman Jean-Marie Rey continues after his departure.

La Palmeraie NurserySt. Joseph Road, 83600 Fréjus, tel. 04 94 17 12 72. www.pepiniereslapalmeraie.com. Exceptional plants and great subjects.

Prosperi Nursery and Nursery, 366, Grenoble road, 06200 Nice, tel. 04 93 72 80 06. www.gardeningprosperi.com. A large selection of plants of any size.

Nursery of Vigueirat, Grand Bourbourel Road, Maillane Road, 13210 Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, tel. 04 90 92 36 77. www.jardins-du-vigueirat.com. Specialist of great subjects and creator of gardens.

Nurseries Pierre Basset, CD 44, Boal district, 83310 Grimaud, tel. : 04 98 12 60 66. www.pierre-basset.com. Olive trees millennia, centenarians, Tuscan olive trees with beautiful frame.

Derbez Nurseries, Road Saint-Tropez, RD98A, Quartier Bertaud, 83580 Gassin, tel. : 04 94 56 11 96. www.pepinieres-derbez.fr. A very large selection of exceptional subjects (3000 in stock), raised in containers in their region of origin and transported standing with their antlers.

English Garden Center, Roquefort-les-Pins road, 06650 Opio, tel. 04 93 12 23 21. Elegant plants and landscaping tips in the language of Shakespeare.

Size lessons

Demonstrations are organized during plant festivals or in associations of friends of botany and gardens. National Society of Horticulture of France: //www.snhf.org

Some examples :Central Society of Agriculture and Horticulture, 113 Promenade des Anglais, 06000 Nice, tel. : 04 93 86 58 44. www.scah-nice.fr

Horticulture and arboriculture society of Bouches-du-Rhône, 2, chemin du Lancier, 13008 Marseille, tel. : 04 91 40 62 66. www.society-horticulture-bdr.com

Demonstration in the conservatory orchard, conferences and thematic visits.


We find all the small equipment to harvest its olives, combs, nets, mills ... in agricultural cooperatives. For example, in Nice, 199, route de Grenoble, 06200, tel. : 04 93 89 24 65. At Carros, ZA de la Grave, 06510, tel. : 04 92 08 66 40.


History of the olive tree, by André Berville and Catherine Breton, Quæ editions (2013). The story of a tree that interfered with man by religion, medicine, agriculture, food.

Olives, by Jean-Marie Polèse, Edisud (2012). The different varieties to know to make your choice before planting.

Olive trees, trees of memory, by Serge Schall, Carrot Feather (2012). From origin to recipes, through the diversification of olives, the manufacture of oil ...