Basics of Olive Growing

Olives evoke an image of sun-drenched Mediterranean landscapes. With our wet grey winters and tepid summers, western Oregon is probably not the first place you think of for growing olives, but many varieties can be grown here, both as ornamental and for fruit production.

Basics of Olive Growing

Olives need maximum sun exposure and excellent drainage.  The best time to plant olive trees is in spring or early summer, so they have time to root before cool wet weather sets in. They also prefer a neutral to slightly alkaline soil, so lime will likely be needed.

Prune older trees to open out the center in spring, and fertilize right after pruning.  Olives are wind pollinated; many varieties are partially self-fertile, but all will produce better with another variety to cross pollinate.  Fruit harvest is late fall, October to as late as you can manage before frost (fruit is damaged at just below freezing).

Varieties of Olives for Oregon

Commercial olive production in Oregon is still in the early stages, and many varieties are being experimented with; but actual tree availability is pretty limited.

Try these varieties for growing here:

Arbosana – excellent olive oil, but less hardy than the others listed when young

Amfissa – Greek variety, great for table olives, hardy

Arbequina – small fruit, but good for oil; very hardy

Frantoio – Top northern Italian variety, very hardy, one of the top table varieties

Leccino – Top quality olive from northern Italy, oil or table olives, quite hardy

Maurino – very hardy and early to mature, good for oil

Seascape – new variety developed in Ukraine, oil or table olives, hardy

Universal – new variety developed in Ukraine, oil or table olives, hardy

Winter Blooming Native – Coast Silk Tassel

Garrya elliptica, coast silk tassel is a striking native shrub, and unusual in several ways.  The slightly wavy, somewhat glossy leaves resemble camellia leaves – and like camellias, silk tassels are evergreen.  Coast silk tassel is particularly notable in the winter, when it is covered in long grey-green catkin flowers.  Individual plants are either male or female – the males have showier flowers, but the females will (if pollinated) produce a small non-showy fruit for some of our native birds.  Coast silk tassel is a rather large shrub, reaching as much as 10-12 ft. tall and wide; it prefers part shade and good drainage.