Olive Bonsai Trees

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.

Artist Gabriel Romero Aguade Olive Bonsai - 2012 Noelanders TrophyArtist Gabriel Romero Aguade
2012 Noelanders Trophy

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.

Old olive trees collected from fields, or friend's yards and those created from air layers are better for creating these bonsai.  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.

Nebari such as this is only one of the many attributes of olive trees.  It also has small leaves and small fruit. The fruit takes many years to develop on young trees.   However, air layers from old trees will bear fruit more quickly.

European olive grouping

Olive Bonsai Care

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.

If you want an olive bonsai that looks like those on this page, it's best to buy one.  They are very old!  You can propagate olives from cuttings and seed (although seed is not that reliable.) 

Young trees may survive indoors, however, they will not thrive as well as outdoors in the sun. Protect olives from freezes. 

The Other Bonsai Olive

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.

Where to Go From Here

Take a look at the tropical black olive.

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