Bonsai Training Information

Olea europaea
Olive tree, Black olive, Green olive, King-of-trees

An evergreen tree growing to about 30 feet, native of the mediteranian and Western Europe, it is now wildly grown around the world for it rich fruit and oils, which are extracted through a non chemical process of cold pressing. The fruit and oils are widly used in salads and Mediterranean cooking. The olive has deep green leaves with greyish undersides, and produces yellowish-white flowers followed by green or black fruit in late summer or early fall. It is much loved by bonsai enthusiasts as much for its rich historical and mythical lore as it is for its elegant shiny green leaves and trunk which takes on an aged, stony appearance when old. It can live to 800 or 1000 years.


Formal upright, Informal Upright, Slanting, Cascade, Semi-cascade, Rock-over-root, Clasped-to-rock, Twin-trunk, Clump, Straight Line, Group planting, Saikei




Full sun in summer, less in winter. Requires 1000 Lux as an indoor plant. Leaves can withstand temperatures down to 43F; the roots dislike freezing temperatures, although survival at temperatures down to 25F has been reported. Considered to be hardy in zone 9. The olive can be successfully grown as an indoor plant, but it is best to keep it outdoors in the summer, and should be kept below 64F in winter. To encourage fruiting, the plant should be kept for several weeks with nightly temperatures of 35F and daily temperatures of 60F.


Water thoroughly, but keep slightly dry. Reduce watering in winter. The olive benefit from daily misting.


Every two weeks from spring to autumn. Do not fertilize for three months after repotting. Use liquid bonsai fertilizer or half-strength general purpose plant food. It can benefit from an addition of pulverized organic fertilizer in mid-spring.

Leaf and Branch Pruning:

Olive have a difficult reputation when it come to branch pruning. If pruning is carried out during spring and grown season. Resultant growth around the cut can be vigorous. The best time to prune for tree shape is during fall. In young trees prune smaller back to the last two or three whorls. Do not prune if temperature fall below 10C. Stem pruning and pinching encourages smaller leaves and shorter internodes. With older trees pinch when branch is still green or is almost violaceous eliminating last couple of leaves.

Re-potting & Growing Medium:

Repot every 2-3 years in spring, as buds sprout. Trim about 1/3 of the root ball, and remove a proportional number of the old leaves. If more drastic root pruning is needed, complete defoliation is advised. Repot in free-draining, slightly calciferous soil.


Wire young branches onlybetween fall and spring. Olive branches bruiseeasily so check frequently. On older and heavier brances, which areusually very rigid, use raffia and wire only during periods of tree dormance.


More Images:

Print Bonsai Care Guide for Olea europaea