Of the 20 or so species in this genus, only Olea europaea is commonly cultivated. It and the other members of the genus are evergreen trees or shrubs from the Mediterranean, Africa, Asia, and Australasia. Leaves are leathery; flowers are 4-lobed and small; and the fruit is round and edible. Grow O. europaea as a specimen, in a border, in a cool greenhouse, or at the base of a sunny wall. It can reach 30 feet tall and wide.
Noteworthy CharacteristicsEvergreen, leathery leaves. Edible fruit. Olives and olive oil come from O. europaea .
CareIn the garden, olives need deep, fertile, very well-drained soil in full sun. Indoors, grow in full light and water moderately during growth.
PropagationStart seed indoors at 55-59°F in spring, or take semi-ripe cuttings in summer.
ProblemsScale insects are very common, while olive knot, Verticillium wilt, mushroom root rot, lesion nematode, and Southern blight are also problems.