Olive Tree Care Indoors: How to Grow an Olive Tree at Home

By: Matt Slaymaker
March 13, 2024
Olive Tree Care Indoors
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An olive tree can bring a piece of the Mediterranean right into your home. Thankfully, you don’t need an orchard to enjoy its aromatic fruit. Indoor olive tree care is easy and knowing how to grow this evergreen beauty will help you make it thrive, even if you don’t have a green thumb. 

Olive trees (Olea Europaea) are incredibly adaptable to various growth conditions. And, with a little attention to its light, water, soil, and fertilizer needs, growing it indoors can be rewarding.    

Are you ready to learn how to grow an olive tree and create a little Mediterranean oasis? Then, read on to learn everything that there’s to know about olive tree care indoors, so you can have a delightful, healthy, and happy plant for years to come. 

All About Olive Trees

About Olive Trees

An olive tree is a popular evergreen tree, known for its beautiful leaves and delicious olive fruits. Native to the Mediterranean region, it is renowned for the healthy and aromatic oil derived from its fruits. The tree is also famous for its air-purifying and stress-relieving properties.

Olive trees have a long life, with some reaching hundreds or even thousands of years! They are remarkably resilient and thrive in warm, sunny climates, They’re perfect for patios in warmer regions and grow well indoors with sufficient light. It’s a non-toxic, pet-friendly plant, ideal for people with cats and dogs.

This tree has many cultivated fruiting varieties, including the popular Olea Europaea ‘Mission’, Olea Europaea Arbequina, Olea Europaea Frantoio, and more. You can also find the compact, decorative Olea Europaea Montra, also known as  Dwarf Olive Tree, perfect for indoor spaces.

How Long Does an Olive Tree Take to Grow?

Olive trees need over a month to germinate. They may require 3-7 years to bear their first fruits, depending on the variety. They usually attain full maturity after 10 years.  

Olive Tree: Meaning & Symbolism

The Biblical story of Noah's Ark has made the olive branch the universal symbol of peace. In Greek mythology, the tree stands for prosperity and wisdom, while its oil represents healing, light, and purification. It also signifies longevity, victory, abundance, and friendship. So, the olive tree can be the perfect plant gift for friends and family.

The Ultimate Indoor Olive Tree Care Guide 

Olive Tree Care Guide

Looking after an olive is fairly easy if you know its needs for light, water, soil, and fertilizers. Once you learn how to care for an olive tree, it will thrive for many years.

Light Requirements: Do Olive Trees Need Direct Sunlight? 

The olive tree prefers full sunlight, like most fruit-bearing trees. So, it is essential that you place it near a large window that receives bright and direct light, preferably a south-facing one. If kept outside in the warmer months, your porch, balcony, rooftop, etc., are also great spots for this easy-going plant.  

How Much Light Do Olive Trees Need?

Olive trees need 6 hours of direct sunlight daily to grow and produce fruits. They cannot survive in low-light conditions. So, if you fail to find a sufficiently sunny spot, you can supplement their daily sunlight requirement with a full spectrum grow light.

Indoor Olive Tree: Temperature and Humidity

The ideal temperature range for an indoor olive tree is 65°F-80°F. It thrives in regions with warm, sunny springs and long, hot summers. This indoor tree plant can also handle mild winters with no risk of frost when grown outdoors in a pot. After all, it is from the Mediterranean region where the temperatures hardly drop below 27°F.  

What Is the Lowest Temperature an Olive Tree Can Tolerate?

Olive trees are strong and can endure temperatures as low as 10F-15F. However, exposure to such low temperatures should only last a short while. Subjecting them to extreme cold for prolonged periods isn't recommended, as it can kill them. 

How Much Humidity Does My Olive Tree Need?

The olive tree prefers a dry environment; the ideal relative humidity level is 40%-60%. This mimics the balmy conditions of its native habitat. High humidity is a no-no! So, use hygrometers and humidifiers to monitor and maintain proper moisture levels in the air.

How Often Do I Water My Olive Tree?

How to Water an Olive Tree

 A newly planted olive tree needs a drink every third day for the first two weeks. After that, you can adjust the schedule and water it once every week. A mature potted tree may need watering every 3-5 days during the summer if it tends to dry up in your region.  

Should I Bottom Water My Olive Tree?

Bottom watering is a good way to hydrate the olive tree. It will ensure that the entire potting medium is sufficiently moist but not soggy. But this watering technique doesn’t wash away excess salts or minerals from the soil. So, you should also water the plant from the top now and then. 

Do Olive Trees Like to Dry Out?

Olive trees hate excess moisture, and you should allow the top soil layers to dry out between watering sessions. It’s best to let half of the soil in the pot become dry.  You can use a moisture meter to check the soil moisture level. Also, make sure to provide proper drainage.

What Does an Overwatered Olive Tree Look Like? 

An olive tree will indicate that it’s overwatered if its leaves turn yellow or brown. New leaves will wither and curl, and you’ll find them falling off before maturity. Another sure sign of an overwatered olive tree, due to poor drainage is if the plant's base remains wet all the time.

Olive Tree: Soil, Fertilizer & Repotting 

Besides water and light, the right soil, timely repotting, and fertilization are essential aspects of growing a healthy olive tree indoors.  

What Soil Is Best for an Olive Tree?

Olive trees need a well-draining soil  that is rich in organic matter. You can use a potting mix with vermiculite or perlite content. You can also go with a cactus or succulent mix for good drainage. The pH level should be 5-8.5 for moderately acidic or alkaline soil.   

What’s the Best Fertilizer for Olive Trees?

A balanced 16-16-16 fertilizer formulated for indoor plants is ideal for olive trees. Apply a liquid formulation at half-strength twice a month during the growing season. You can also use a slow-release fertilizer once a month. Make sure it doesn’t touch the leaves or the trunk.

When Should I Fertilize My Olive Tree?

The best time for fertilizing an olive tree is the growth season, i.e. spring and summer. You can apply the fertilizer from April to August. But stop feeding your Olea Europaea after August and wait till March. Fall and winter are the seasons when the plant enters its dormant phase.   

When Should I Repot My Olive Tree Indoors?

The best time to repot an olive tree indoors is late winter or early spring. It allows the plant to recover from its dormancy as it gets ready to flourish. Allow a new plant to acclimate to the environment for a few weeks before transplanting it. You can repot your olive tree every 2-3 years. 

How to Prune an Indoor Olive Tree 

As part of your indoor olive tree care, prune the plant to achieve a good shape and neat appearance. Use sharp, sterilized pruners to trim its branches. Cut them at a 45-degree angle about ¼” above its base.  

Pruning can stop your olive tree from going out of control and promote healthy fruit growth. For best results:

  1. Trim off suckers from the trunk.
  2. Remove branches pointing downwards.
  3. Clear the center for better light penetration.
  4. Cut back the tallest branches to control the plant’s height.
  5. Prune damaged or diseased branches, as well.

Here’s a video to help you with the essentials of pruning a potted olive tree.

When Should You Prune an Olive Tree?

The best time to prune an olive tree is between late spring and early summer. Thin out overgrown sections and out-of-control branches. It’s also a good time to let in sufficient sunlight to the center of the tree and boost growth. 

How to Propagate an Olive Tree Indoors? 

Propagating new olive trees indoors is easy, even if you’re not a gardening expert. You can grow new plants from cuttings, by air-layering, and from seeds. 

  • From cuttings: Cut a 7”-8” healthy branch tip below a node and remove leaves. Dip it in rooting hormone and plant it in a sand/peat mix. With the right, warm temperature and proper light, it will root after 3 months. Transplant it into a larger pot. 
  • By air-layering: Score parallel cuts on a healthy branch. Remove the bark and leaves. Wrap the “wounded” area with moist sphagnum moss, and cover it with plastic. Within a few weeks, you’ll see new roots. Cut the rooted brunch and plant it in a pot with well-draining soil..
  • From seeds: Keep small seeds or pips in a damp paper towel for 2 months. Make sure to moisten them on a regular basis to facilitate germination. Then, plant them ¼” deep in a small pot with well-draining soil. Provide warmth and moisture, and in about a month, you’ll spot the new seedlings showing. 

Common Problems With Indoor Potted Olive Trees

Common Olive Tree Problems

Once you learn how to take care of an olive tree, it will thrive on its own. Still, it’s not immune to some common issues like every other houseplant. So, watch out for the following olive tree problems and address them in a timely manner:  

  • Leaf issues: Common leaf issues include yellowing leaves, brittle leaves, falling off leaves, and more. These could be due to various reasons, such as nitrogen deficiency, excess or insufficient watering, fungal infections, poor sunlight, etc.
  • Poor fruit development: Lack of nutrients can reduce or delay fruit production. Proper fertilization can fix the problem.
  • Pest infestation: You can remove fruit flies, scale insects, etc., with neem oil sprays and targeted insecticides. 
  • Fungal disease: Olive knot and Verticillium wilt are common fungal diseases caused by excess moisture. Applying fungicides and maintaining a clean, dry environment will resolve the problem. 
  • Root rot: Overwatering and poor drainage can cause root decay. You may need to repot the plant. Also, reduce watering and maintain proper soil drainage.

How Do I Know If My Olive Tree Is Dying?

If your olive tree is dying, it will give you clear indications. You’ll notice dry and brittle leaves, discolored foliage, stunted growth, and poor fruit development. Overall, the plant will develop a sickly look and lose its vibrancy.

Indoor Olive Tree Care: FAQs

Q: Do olive trees lose their leaves?

A: No, olive leaves are evergreen plants and don't normally shed leaves, even in winter. So, if you notice that your tree is shedding, then something is definitely wrong with your plant. Leaves falling off from your olive tree could be down to overwatering, dehydration, lack of light, or exposure to excessively high temperatures. 

Q: Should I mist my olive tree?

A: No, you do not need to mist your olive tree. This plant hates excess moisture and humidity, and misting creates an unfavorable environment. Always keep it in a dry place.

Q: What is the best soil pH for olives?

A: The best soil pH for olive trees is 5-8.5. They prefer moderately acidic or alkaline soil. Add lime to the soil to boost its pH level, and sulfur to reduce it. 

Q: How long does it take an olive tree to bear fruit?

A: It takes at least 3 years for olive trees to bear fruits. But don’t worry if it takes longer. Some varieties may need up to 7 years. Usually, they have heavy fruit production in one year and lighter production in the following year.  

Q: How do you get olives to fruit?

A: During spring and summer, feed the olive tree with a balanced fertilizer once or twice every month. Also, maintain proper moisture and light levels, and remove dead and diseased branches. Following these tips will help you boost your tree’s fruit-bearing ability and encourage it fruit when the time comes.


Proper indoor olive tree care involves providing a well-lit, warm, and dry spot for this Mediterranean species. Make the tree the centerpiece in your green corner on the porch or place it near a large window inside your home. 

You can also complement your potted olive tree with herbal companion plants like Oregano, Sweet Basil, Parsley, Tuscan Blue Rosemary and the divine-smelling Lavender. They all grow in similar conditions as your Olea Europaea tree, and will add a rustic European vibe to your indoor garden.