Excellent olive bonsai subjects can be made from Olea Europa, also known as the Mediterranean Olive. In the United States, good examples are most often found in California. The climate there is much like that of the native climate for this tree.
If your bonsai olive was begun from a young plant, seed or a small cutting, it's unlikely you will have a masterpiece such as this in your lifetime.
Another way to develop a better tree is to develop it in the ground.
(It will still take many years.) Meantime you can be working on other bonsai trees.
There's a saying in the bonsai world …
“If you want a big bonsai, buy a big bonsai.”
You don't have to pay thousands of dollars for the perfect tree, purchase a pre-bonsai that someone else has given a head start.
This tree was displayed by Gabriel Romero Aguade at the 2012 Noelanders Trophy. (Europe)
Nebari such as this is only one of the many attributes of this tree. It also has small leaves and small fruit.
The fruit take many years to develop on young trees. However, air layers from old trees will bear fruit more quickly.
Jonas Dupuich wrote a good article about starting an olive from scratch in one of his blogs.
This tree is easy to care for. Basically, it likes lots of sun and fast draining soil.
It does not like “wet feet,” so if your soil is heavy, allow it to dry out a little between waterings.
Your best bet for soil is a fast draining, coarse mix.
Trim frequently to keep the shape. It doesn't mind being a little root bound, so you most likely will not need to repot annually.
Although it may survive indoors, the leaves will become larger and it will not thrive as well as outdoors in the sun.
A frost is unlikely to kill the tree, but it could damage the leaves.
Protect from freezes.
The Bucida species, commonly known as “Black olives” are not olives at all.
They look nothing like the European Olive. They are tropical trees and they have very different needs. However, they make excellent bonsai subjects.
is my free monthly newsletter. Subscribe to get current tips, ideas and photos that may not appear on this site.
Know the basics? Ready for more? Watch these amazing Colin Lewis bonsai class videos.
Craftsy sent me a copy of this class to review. Very impressed, we became an affiliate and receive a small commission on purchases. (Which helps support this site.)