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Everything You Need to Know About Arbequina Olive Trees

Arbequina olive trees are low-maintenance, producing bumper crops of antioxidant-rich, versatile black olives as early as their second year after planting.

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All olive lovers know about Arbequina olives, the meaty, blac,k antioxidant-rich fruits perfect for making oils, putting on pizza, or scattering across a charcuterie board. Incredibly popular for their large harvests and hardiness, Arbequina olives make up 78% of all olive acres planted in California, according to the Olive Oil Times. Arbequina olive trees make excellent outdoor plants as well as patio accents, easily brought inside during winter snaps, with gorgeous silvery-green foliage and delicate white blooms.

Arbequina Olive Trees at a Glance

  • Self-pollinating
  • Can produce fruit in 2-4 years
  • Bumper crop of antioxidant-rich olives perfect for oils
  • Cold-hardy down to 22 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Fragrant, creamy white flowers
  • Drought-resistant

Appearance

Arbequina olive trees have weeping branches with shiny, silvery-green leaves that retain their color year-round in warm climates. They grow to be 15-20 feet tall at maturity with an 8-12-foot-spread. Their small, fleshy olives emerge green before transitioning to a light pink, then ultimately turn glossy black when they’ve ripened on the tree and are ready to be harvested.

Specifications

Appearance Weeping branches with silvery-green foliage that retains color year-round in warm climates. Small olives transition from green to pink then black when they’ve ripened.
Appearance Weeping branches with silvery-green foliage that retains color year-round in warm climates. Small olives transition from green to pink then black when they’ve ripened.
Height 15-20 feet
Hardiness Zones Zones 8-10 outdoors, Zones 4-7 on patio/indoors
Type of tree Semi-deciduous
Sunlight requirements Full sun to partial shade
Soil composition Highly adaptable, prefers alkaline and well-draining

Hardiness Zones

USDA Hardiness Zones indicate the regions where different types of plants thrive across the country based on minimum relative winter temperatures. If planted outdoors, Arbequina olive trees flourish in Zones 8-10. If planted in a container, they can remain outside in Zones 4-7 until winter, when they should be brought inside.

Planting

Arbequina olive trees should be planted in fall or early spring. If planted outside, choose a location that receives full sunlight to partial shade and good soil drainage. The preference is for at least six hours of direct, unfiltered sunlight per day. They are self-pollinating and will yield fruit with just one, but planting a second will boost their yield. If you choose to plant more than one, make sure they are 8-12 feet apart from each other, measuring from their trunks.

Remove any weeds or turfgrass and clear away any debris from the site. Dig a hole that is roughly twice the width of the root ball. Backfill the hole with soil, then water gently to settle the roots.

If you choose to plant your Arbequina olive tree in a container, choose a pot that has drainage holes for watering and that is 1.5-2 times the width of the container your tree arrived in.

Growing Conditions

Arbequina olive trees are low-maintenance, able to tolerate many different soil types, a range of sunlight, and able to withstand temperatures as low as 20 degrees Fahrenheit.

Sun and shade

Arbequina olive trees thrive in full sunlight, when they receive at least six hours of direct, unfiltered sunlight per day. They can also tolerate partial shade, but this may reduce their overall crop yield.

Soil

These trees are able to tolerate a wide variety of soil, but they prefer well-draining, alkaline soil. But they can do well in a range of soil types, from sandy to loamy to clay.

Watering

Although Arbequina olive trees can tolerate drought, they should be watered regularly when first planted to help establish a deep, healthy root system. For the first few weeks after planting, water your Arbequina olive tree twice weekly.

After that, you can reduce watering to one every week to 10 days. You don’t want to water soil that is already moist. Test the level by inserting your index finger into the soil to at least 2 inches down. If the soil feels dry, you need to water.

Fertilizing

To boost your crop, feed your tree twice a year, in spring and fall, with a slow-release, nitrogen-rich fertilizer.

Pruning

Arbequina olive trees do not need to be pruned, but they respond well to it. If you decide to prune, do so at the leaf nodes at the end of winter but before the tree has started flowering. Pruning can be good for increasing light penetration, opening up the canopy, and boosting your harvest. You should always prune dead or diseased branches.

Harvesting

Arbequina olives are small, fleshy, and meaty, with small pits. Your tree will begin fruiting within 2-4 years. The olives ripen on the tree, and you can tell when they’re ready when they become glossy black. Arbequina olives do not all ripen at once. The earliest ones are ready to harvest in November. Arbequina olives have a high concentration of oil, which is fruity and aromatic, making them an excellent choice for creating your own olive oil.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you eat Arbequina olives?

Yes, Arbequina olives are fleshy, meaty black olives that can be eaten as a snack, used to make oil, and more.

How quickly do they produce fruit?

Your Arbequina olive tree will start producing fruit within 2-4 years of planting.

Do the olives ripen after you pick them?

No, you pick them off the branch when they are black and ripe.

Do you need two olive trees to get crops?

Arbequina olive trees are self-pollinating, so you only need one to get fruit. However, planting another olive tree will increase your harvest.

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