Indoor Olive Tree: Can You Successfully Grow One of Your Own?

An indoor olive tree is trending for home decor nowadays. This may be because plants are one of the greatest gifts to humans. While wild animals get to enjoy nature in their homes, we as humans, do not. But what we can do is have nature growing indoors to give us life.

indoor olive tree

We need plants just as much as they need us —  perhaps even more so. One of the greatest new indoor plant trends is the indoor olive tree. Today, we’re going to find out everything you need to know for growing olive trees indoors.

If olive trees aren’t your jam, then perhaps you’d be interested in one of our other indoor tree recommendations, like fruit trees. They are all wonderful trees with different benefits to offer your home and your health. 

Can You Grow An Olive Tree Inside?

Faux olive treeView in gallery
Image from @clairegarnerinteriors

The short answer is that yes, you can grow olive trees indoors. These indoor trees are becoming quite popular lately and with good reason. They have the ability to produce fruit, they smell good, and they have a nice aesthetic. The Arbequina Olive Tree is the best choice for indoor growth.

But before you begin growing indoor olive trees, it’s important to learn all you can about doing so. It’s important to always learn about a few key things when choosing a plant: water, sunlight, and soil. 

But there are also other things to keep in mind about growing olive trees in particular. So let’s learn what we can about these magical trees so we know how to best care for them should we decide to get them for our homes.

Meaning Of The Olive Tree

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Image from @alfrescoemporium

The olive tree has a different meaning in different cultures, but the Greek culture’s take on it is probably the most popular. In short, the ancient olive tree stands for peace.

But that isn’t all it stands for. The olive branch itself is a sign of friendship, a truce, of better days ahead: Prosperity, Fertility, Success

At one time, the only prize that an Olympic winner received was a wreath made of olive branches. It was said to be a sign of success and prosperity. These wreaths were called “kotinos” and are used as symbols today. 

There are many trees and plants that symbolize prosperity, but the olive tree is probably the oldest of them all. They also stand for fertility and longevity because they can live to be over 1000 years old. 

Wisdom And Immortality 

The olive branch is also often seen as a sign of immortality and wisdom. In Greek mythology, it was made to signify a contest between two gods, Athena and Poseidon. Athena was the warrior, the Goddess of Justice. 

Poseidon, her uncle created a well of water to which Athena showed her own power by sprouting an olive tree. This created a competition between the two, and Zeus ended up choosing the greater gift, the olive tree. 

Renaissance And Light 

As Noah witnessed in the Christian Bible, the dove brought him an olive branch as a sign that the flood was over, that dry land was nearby. The olive branch is often seen as a gift from the gods, bringing light wherever it goes.

You don’t have to be an expert in any religion, mythology, or botany to know that these ancient olive trees are special. But now that you do know, it may be difficult to ignore your need for one little indoor olive tree.

Friendship

Want to make a new friend? Perhaps an olive tree is a good gift, as long as they have other indoor plants and know how to care for them. Because an olive tree is often seen as a sign of friendship, and the offering thereof. 

Haven’t you ever heard the term, offering an olive branch? That’s because it is used as a peace offering. The need to end an argument and become friends once again. It means you’re trying to find peace for the betterment of everyone. 

How Much Sun Does An Indoor Olive Tree Need?

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Image from @suesimpsonfennell

Though it can vary, generally olive trees require a minimum of 6 hours of sunlight each day. So it’s important to ensure that these trees are placed near a window that gets that much sunshine. 

As much direct sunlight as possible won’t hurt the tree unless you live in a very hot climate. Otherwise, an olive tree indoors will do quite well with up to 10 hours of sunlight each day, with a few hours of direct sunlight assured.

You don’t want to place these trees in the full shade because enough sunlight year round is super important to their well-being. But being out in desert heat will also not do them well.

Fertilizer And Soil For An Olive Tree

Fertilizer And Soil For An Olive TreeView in gallery
Image from @leestonhouse

It is important that fruiting trees grown indoors have well-draining soil. Do not use soil that is well-packed or clay-like, or other slow-draining soil. The potting soil should be fairly loose but not so loose that the potted olive tree cannot stand upright. Cactus mix is a good option.

Rocks can be placed in the soil and can actually help it stay loose. Use small rocks only, however, as you don’t want to block any roots.

When it comes to fertilizer, there is an easy-to-remember concoction you can use. An olive tree indoors will thrive on a 16-16-16 nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium ratio. In general, you want a balanced liquid fertilizer diluted with the proper amount of water. This is a good base for dwarf olive trees or regular types. Another option is to use slow-release fertilizer.

Watering An Indoor Olive Tree

Watering An Indoor Olive TreeView in gallery
Image from @cheringtonhouse

Water is important for every single plant. Some can drown with too much water while others will dry out if they don’t get enough. Indoor olive trees stand somewhere in the middle, depending on how young they are. Watering is also important if you are using a slow-release fertilizer. 

Young olive trees should be watered every day lightly before switching to watering every few days. If you can get a drip going then you only have to check on the tree and refill the trip tank. Just place the drip deep and be sure there are drainage holes in the pot.

After the tree is a few weeks old and doing well, then go to a weekly watering. You can overwater olive trees, create soggy soil and cause root rot. So, unless they are babies, stick to once a week. Also, ensure that you give at least one inch of water each time. 

In the winter, you should stop watering the tree altogether and then back to normal again in the early spring. This can vary but for most climates, this is your general watering routine. Yes, it is very light and easy. 

How Big Do Indoor Olive Trees Get?

How Big Do Indoor Olive Trees GetView in gallery
Image from @lola_amuah

Unfortunately, an olive tree cannot spend its entire life indoors. It can live indoors for a few years, but after a while, it needs room to grow and thrive. When this happens, you’ll need to take it outdoors and get another new olive tree.

In fact, if you’re going to move the tree outside, you’ll want to get it used to the different environment. In general, once the temperatures are over 40 degrees and the cold weather is over, you can put it outside. Early spring —  April and early May — is good so it gives the tree time to acclimate to the outdoors before you plant it permanently.

A dwarf variety is a better option if you want to keep it inside longer. But even then, it’s better to put them outdoors whenever they are fully grown. Indoors, a dwarf olive tree can reach around ten feet if the ceilings are high enough.

But it also depends on your container. Ensure that your container is big enough to not stunt the growth of the olive tree. Always make sure that it is at least twice as large as the root ball at all times for best results. A larger container is fine too.

Fruit-Bearing Vs. Non-Fruit-Bearing Olive Trees

Fruit-Bearing Vs. Non-Fruit-Bearing Olive TreesView in gallery
Image from @my_house_on_abbey_road

At the most basic level, olive trees are fruit trees. This is something that you won’t learn about at most nurseries with people trying to sell you an olive tree. But there are two types: fruit-bearing olive trees, and non-fruit-bearing olive trees. 

While non-fruit-bearing varieties aren’t all that common outdoors, they are fairly common olive trees grown indoors. These are actually two different species. What you want is probably the fruit-bearing olive tree, the classic olive tree.

If you want to see the differences between the two, look up the different types of indoor olive trees and why to choose each one. But if you are in it for the olives, then choose a fruit-bearing olive tree, there are many types of those as well.

Faux Olive Trees

faux olive treeView in gallery
IKEA

If this is all a little much for you, then consider a faux olive tree. Faux olive trees look just like real olive trees only they don’t take any of the hard work. They are set-it-and-forget-it trees because they are fake. 

Faux olive trees are fairly inexpensive too. You can get them for less than $100 at many different home decor stores and they look as pretty as a picture. The style is all up to you as well as the tree won’t change. 

You can get imperfect trees that have a lot of character or symmetrical trees that go perfectly with your modern design. There’s nothing wrong with wanting a faux olive tree either because they are simply another decoration. 

Either way, you can have that gorgeous olive tree with the amazing backstory behind it in your home. So choose whichever works best for your lifestyle, whether it be the lush real olive tree or the easy faux olive tree.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)FAQ

Are olive trees toxic?

If you have pets, you might wonder are indoor olive trees toxic? Actually, there’s no indication that the three or the tree’s leaves are toxic to pets. The latin name of the olive tree is Olea europaea. Some unrelated tree species have “olea” in the botanical name  — like oleasters and oleanders — and those are indeed toxic. So, an indoor olive tree is safe to have in a home with fur babies.

Do olive trees grow well in pots?

Like most fruit trees, they do grow well in pots. Some types of pots have better drainage like wood and terra cotta pots. Of course, no matter what pot you use, be sure to add plenty of broken pottery or stones so it drains easily and make sure the pot has a drainage hole. 

Can olive trees survive in shade?

Olive trees thrive in sunny, dry climates so they need full sun as much as possible. The more sunlight they get, the healthier they will be. It’s best to place them near a south-facing window to maximize light. If you don’t have a south-facing window, put the tree in the sunniest spot in the house. They can tolerate a little bit of shade, but not too much.

Do olive trees need a lot of water?

In general, these trees are very drought tolerant. That said, they still need water.  If you have a new little olive tree, water it once a week for the first year. If you have dry air in the house or notice that the top 2 inches of soil is dry, go ahead and water it. Once the tree has taken root and is established, you only need to deep water it once a month. Most importantly, the pot needs to have drainage holes.

How fast do olive trees grow indoors?

Olive trees grow rather slowly outdoors. Usually, they add anywhere from 2 to 4 inches in height every year. Moreover, olive trees grown indoors are even slower. In fact, you’ll likely need to move it to a larger pot size once every few years.

Indoor Olive Tree: Conclusion

Olive trees may be trendy but they are also a great type of indoor tree to grow. They are relatively low maintenance, grow slowly and can thrive indoors. Much of the battle is solved by putting the tree in the right spot. They’re easier to grow than most house plants! So, if you have a sunny spot in the house, it’s the perfect place to grow your own olive tree.