Olive tree as a houseplant?

rosebuddy(z5Ont)August 25, 2006

I just brought home an olive tree (Olea) from the nursery. It was an impulse buy which is usual for me. I couldn't resist the cute little olives as I've never seen one before.

I know I can't keep it outside for too much longer, but am going to bring it in when the weather starts to cool, and am hoping someone out there has any experience with keeping one as a houseplant.

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I don't know the answer, but am interested in what others have to say. If they sell this plant in Canada, one would think it can be held as a houseplant. Otherwise, why sell it if it would die outside during the winter? Do you have a picture?

    Bookmark   August 25, 2006 at 4:17PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Though I've not grown one myself, I understand that it is not particulary difficult if you provide the right conditions. Darn! That's always the case, isn't it? LOL

These plants will require the sunniest location you can find in your home, as it prefers several hours of direct sunlight per day. Don't let it rest right up against the glass of a southern window, but nearby. Keep away from hot and cold drafts. Provide a moist pebble tray to sit the plant on, saucer and all. This will give it a humidity boost.

Most importantly, since this plant likes to be kept somewhat on the moist side, you MUST (I repeat....MUST) provide this plant with a fast draining, porous, coarse textured planting medium. If you do so, you will not have to worry about over watering or fungus gnats, both of which can be a problem with your average potting mix.

To get an idea of what you can do to make your own mix, or just to improve the stuff you buy, there are a few fairly recent threads regarding potting mixes and soil in this forum. Do some reading.

Have fun!

    Bookmark   August 25, 2006 at 4:44PM
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Someone here on GW recommended Alfalfa, the stuff used for gerbils, rabbits..My Olea has been growing in this stuffing all year..can't get anymore well-draining that that. I was hesitant at first, but it works fantastic. Toni

    Bookmark   August 25, 2006 at 10:15PM
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Olives are used all the time for indoor bonsai, just keep them on the dry side in tons of sun!

    Bookmark   August 26, 2006 at 10:54AM
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Rosebuddy, Rhizo's advice hits the nail on the head. I don't grow an olive tree myself but my cousin grows them regularly. He has a specialty retail shop that sells olive oils and such things and in his store's window he has...you guessed it...olive trees. His front window has a southern location and the plants receive the maximum light possible. They are doing wonderfully. In fact, they're doing so well that he sells some occassionally to his customers who keep insisting on purchasing them. So he keeps ordering more...LOL...

And Rhizo's advice is exactly the care he provides; it should do the trick. The most important thing I see in his 'olive tree' success is lots of light! Enjoy your plant!

    Bookmark   August 26, 2006 at 11:00AM
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Thanks for all the advice! I brought mine in today as the night temperature is going down to 10 degrees Celsius which is what the directions that came with it said was the minimum it would take. I was grocery shopping today and found some alfalfa in the pet aisle. Am I to mix this with soil or just use it as is, as soil around the existing root soil? I'm a bit worried that it may attract mice as it said that it also used as food for hamsters. Another question if anyone has hung aroung long enough---The name olea. Is it in any way related to oleander and if so should I be keeping it away from my pets as I understand it is poisonous.

    Bookmark   August 26, 2006 at 6:00PM
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Rose, when this woman gave me instructions on the potting my olive, she just said to use alfalfa w/o soil..Mine has been living in this stuff almost a yr now.
You've made a good point about mice, I never thought about them..but, (and we get mice in autumn) they didn't bother my plant last winter..but to be honest, I did put it in the gh around Dec, but it was living in the house before that, and no rodent problems. Mice sneak in our house when the temps drop, I hate those things next to spiders..I'm terrified of this little, itty, bitty fuzzy animal..yuck..lol..
One thing about the alfalfa, it's well-draining, so you can't overwater. I potted my tree in a citrus tree container which is nothing decorative, just a long, black plastic pot. I don't have olives yet, but so far so good..Toni

    Bookmark   August 26, 2006 at 6:17PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Olea is the genus name for olive and is not remotely related to Oleander. (Olive is in the Oleaceae family and Oleander is in the Apocynaceae family, along with several toxic members.)

I'd like to know what happens to the plant when the alfalfa breaks down. Am curious about something that I know decomposes fairly readily. Explain this, Toni. The alfalfa product that I have READ about using is specially processed for use as a growing medium, and NOT the kind you'd find in a pet store. And this stuff, once processed (milled and soaked for several days), is used as an amendment, not a single ingredient potting medium. It's almost sawdust-like in texture.

Educate us, Toni.....and include pictures of the stuff!

    Bookmark   August 26, 2006 at 10:27PM
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Rhizo, the woman who told me about the alfalfa said I can buy it in a petshop..I haven't seen her in months, but I hope if she reads this, she'll come forth..She said I can buy it in a pet store..Toni

Here is a link that might be useful: RE: Olive tree as a houseplant?

    Bookmark   August 27, 2006 at 3:50PM
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And here's the olive..

Here is a link that might be useful: RE: Alfalfa

    Bookmark   August 27, 2006 at 3:52PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

I sure wouldn't steer anyone in the direction of using pet store alfalfa as a growing medium.

Thanks for posting the picture of the olive. ;-)

    Bookmark   August 28, 2006 at 10:46AM
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Rhizo, I'm really not advising anyone to use it, :)..The woman who told me about it has been using alfalfa on her olives for yrs..So, I thought I'd give it a try..the only bad thing about it is it dries out too fast. It works great in winter since the olive should dry out anyway, but in summer it needs quite a bit. Toni

    Bookmark   August 28, 2006 at 2:53PM
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What about cactus soil? I have some which is made up of Peat moss, humus, compost, pertlite and sand. Would this be fast draining enough?

    Bookmark   August 29, 2006 at 11:50AM
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Rose, if it works for your cactus, it'll be more than sufficient to work on your olive..Which direction window will it be facing in winter? Toni

    Bookmark   August 29, 2006 at 3:49PM
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I do not know about olives as a houseplant, but black olive trees are fairly common in my area. They thrive in clay soil, full sun, dry heat, & little water. The average winter low is in the 40Âs. I am sure you will not use clay soil, but well drained is important  they do not like it wet.

    Bookmark   September 1, 2006 at 9:08AM
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Baci, I once read that Oleanders liked clay soil, so I had my friend who summered in WI, dig and bring me clay soil..LOL. It worked fantastic. Toni

    Bookmark   September 1, 2006 at 2:09PM
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hopefulauthor, oleanders must love clay soil, as they are commonly grown in my area as landscaping, especially along the highways. Our soil is clay and alkaline. I am trying to container grow some oleanders - maybe I will try some clay soil...

    Bookmark   October 13, 2006 at 5:41AM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Oleanders are very adaptable. No need to try to find clay soil. In the coastal plains along the East coast, they grow in deep, sandy, salty beach front locations and flourish beautifully. They are probably more suited to sandy soils, but will be relatively happy in almost anything, as long as it is very well draining. In a container, I would certainly avoid clay. Particularly since they are a drought tolerant plant and are often used in xeriscapes.

They are also adaptable when it comes to pH, making them a pretty darned easy plant to grow!

    Bookmark   October 13, 2006 at 1:14PM
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Just saw my original posting when I turned on GardenWeb. I see that it's changing direction towards oleanders (Love how one thought webs out out in the search for knowlege). Just a quick update that my olive is doing great and sending out new growth. I put the original root ball and its soil into a container, then filled in the remaining space with cactus soil. I imagine the original soil was clay as I've never picked up such a small HEAVY pot before. I also have the pot that it's in suspended in a larger pot where the water has about 3 inches to drip down into. Thanks again for all the advice. Had our first snow yesterday, and looking at the olive makes me think of sunnier places!

    Bookmark   October 13, 2006 at 6:02PM
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