How To Grow Olive Tree From Seed (Olive Pit)?

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Can you grow olive tree from seed? Absolutely yes! The steps below show you how to prepare the seeds, germinate them, and grow them in containers.

Follow these steps and you will be challenged to propagate olive tree from seed and eventually you will be rewarded with your own olive tree and its fruits that are a favorite addition to many foods and beverages.

Also, your own olive tree will make an interesting addition to a landscape. The tree is evergreen, has silvery leaves and a gnarled trunk that will provide interest to the landscape year-round for many generations to come due to its longevity.

Green or Black Olives

Some people prefer green olives and others prefer black ones but both come from the same tree. Green olives are harvested before they are ripe and black ones are allowed to remain on the tree until they are fully ripe as per reference to the olive growth cycle.

One tree can provide a household with different tastes in olives their favorite type. Whether you like the green or black, as a snack or appetizer, mixed into dips, sauces, salads, pasta dishes, stews, or baked goods, you can grow your favorite color of olives and eat them as you please.

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Collect few green olives directly from olive tree – here I picked Koroneiki variety olives (Greek origin)

Gather The Seed

The seed, also called a pit, must be thoroughly cleaned and processed in a specific way to promote germination. The success rate of olive seed propagation is very low, so prepare several seeds for propagation and hopefully one or two will germinate.

Olives ripen in the fall and need to be gathered after they ripen but before they turn black. Gently pull the olives from the tree so it won’t be damaged. Gather 10 olives for every 1 tree that you hope to propagate.

Clean The Seed

Place the olives in a large plastic bowl and use a kitchen mallet to lightly crush the olives. The flesh should be loosened from the seeds but not fully removed at this stage of preparation.

Cover the crushed olives with water and allow them to soak for 24 hours. Stir the olives every few hours and remove any pieces of floating debris from the top of the water.

Drain the water off after 24 hours. Use a kitchen scouring pad to scrub all the remaining flesh off the olive seeds. Rinse thoroughly to ensure all the olive flesh has been removed from the seeds.

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Clean olive seeds by removing flesh and crushing it to loosen up the seeds/pits inside

Nick And Soak

The tough seeds must be nicked to help them germinate. Use a pair of bolt cutters to nick the pointy end of the olive seed. Be careful to only nick the outer hull and not break through it or the seed will be ruined and it will not germinate.

Place the cleaned, nicked seeds in a bowl of water and soak them for 24 hours. At the end of this 24-hour soak, the seeds will be ready to plant.

Planting Essentials

While the seeds are enjoying their last soaking it will give you time to get prepared for planting time.

You will need a 6-inch (15 cm) deep container for each seed, a DIY potting soil mix that is one-half sand and one-half compost, a heated germination mat, and a cold frame.

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A heating pad can be substituted for a germination mat and a cold frame is a simple DIY project that can be made from a few pieces of scrap lumber and an old window. The heated mat or pad provides warmth to the bottom of the container and the cold frame uses the sun to heat up the top of the container.

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Planting time – place each seed into a container or pot 2 inches (5 cm) deep

Planting Time

Place one seed in each container 2-inches (5 cm) deep. Set the germination mat to 60 degrees F (15.5°C) to encourage root growth. Water seeds and keep the soil moist at all times.  

Seedlings will appear in the second month. Allow the seedlings to remain in the cold frame at night and start the hardening-off process by taking the seedling out of the cold frame during the daytime for an hour, then 2 hours, etc.

Transplant to a more permanent container when the seedling is large enough in the fall.

Generic FAQs

Can you start an olive tree from a pit?

Yes, you can start growing an olive tree from a pit, also called a seed, in autumn when the olive fruits are ripe.
However, the success rate of olive pit propagation is very low, so you should use many olive pits or seeds to start growing your own olive tree.

How long does it take to grow an olive tree from seed?

It will take approximately 2 months for an olive seed to germinate and seedlings to appear. And it will take up to 12 years for an olive tree to reach maturity due to the slow olive tree growth rate and be the most productive.

How long does it take to produce fruit when an olive tree grows from seed?

It will take 5-12 years for the olive tree to grow from a seed into an olive-bearing tree depending on olive tree variety and overall growing conditions.


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Conclusion: Grow Olive Tree From Seed

One important tip on growing a young olive tree: be aware of fungus that can destroy your tree, so make certain that you eliminate as many possibilities of mold as you can, including using only sterile soil.

Give the best fertilizer for olive trees in the next spring and enjoy growing your own gorgeous olive tree!

In case you are not able to get fresh olive fruits to grow olive trees yourself, get olive cuttings from the local garden center and propagate olive trees from cuttings! Happy growing! Let us know how did it go!

propagate olive trees from cuttings
Check out steps on how to propagate olive tree from cutting

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