olive tree growth rate - how fast olive trees grow?

How Fast Does Olive Tree Grow? Olive Tree Growth Rate

If you are planning to grow an olive tree, you may be curious about what is the olive tree growth rate to be sure where to place it. Generally speaking, olive trees grow to full maturity quite slowly, at most 2 – 4 inches (5 – 10 cm) of new growth a year. As well, olive trees planted in the ground grows faster than olive trees in pots.

To be more precise, for the first year, you won’t see much growth at all, since the olive tree will be adjusting to the shock of transplanting. Expect to see the best growth in the second to the third year. Afterward, the olive tree will reach a steady yearly growth up until maturity.

Olive Tree Growth Rate by Inches / Centimeters

The below table shows the common olive tree growth rates (Olea europaea) whether you plant it in a pot or in the ground. The mature Olea europaea olive tree can reach up to 20 -30 ft (6 – 9 m) height at age 12 – 15 years.

Olive Tree AgeGrowth Rate per YearDescription
1st year1 – 2 inches (2.5 – 5 cm)Slow Growth due to the shock of transplanting
2nd & 3rd year2 – 6 inches (5 – 15 cm)Best Growth of an olive tree in the proportion of its size; can grow the double size on 2nd year
4th year onwards2 – 12 inches (5 – 30 cm)Steady Growth until olive tree mature (up to 12 – 15  years)
5th – 7th year2 – 12 inches (5 – 30 cm)First Fruit Growth
Table of Olive Tree Growth Rate by years and inches (cm)

This table gives a core structure of olive tree growth, not keeping in mind water shoots or suckers coming out super fast from branches or pruning cuts.

olive tree growth rate first year
My potted olive tree grows very slow first year, it grew up to 0.5 inch (1.2 cm) in first half year but has many new buds growing out

Experiment About Olive Tree Growth Rate Including Results

More than 5 years ago my cousin and I did the experiment on growing 2 wild olive trees and testing their growth rates.

First, we planted 2 wild olive trees (Olea europaea var. sylvestris) in spring: they both were approx. 1.5 feet (45 cm) tall with roots grown from cuttings. One wild olive tree was planted next to the house with some shadow during the day, another one was planted 65 feet (20 meters) away next to a will.

Then, after 1 year we compared the growth results of these olive trees. Sadly I don’t have pictures of this experiment have taken 5 years back, but here I can provide a table with metrics and our findings:

Wild Olive TreesSize When PlantedSize After 1 YearAppearance Description
Olive Tree #1 Planted Next to the House1.5 feet (45 cm)5.5 feet (1.8 m) tallMore wild and messy; branches grew all over the place like seeking a sun.
Olive Tree #2 Planted Away from a House Next to a Will1.5 feet (45 cm)2 feet (60 cm) tallMore compact and bushy; had a fuller thicker branch and leaf structure. More healthy appearance
Our experiment results of 2 wild olive tree growth rates after one year

To summarize this experiment, we went to the conclusion, that those 2 wild olive trees had totally different growing experiences and conditions that resulted in different growth rates. Olive tree #1 had less sun and was spreading its branches to reach most of the sun it could. While olive tree #2 was growing close to water resources and had full-day sunlight, as a result, it grew a compact structure and thick branches and stem.

For a healthy steady growth olive trees need a full day of sunlight and accessible water resources.

Also, for more information on why some olive trees struggle to grow and what are the reasons, don’t forget to check out my recent article Olive Tree Not Growing or Producing Leaves.

Olive Tree Growth Rate Factors

Most important to note that many factors affect an olive tree growth rate. Here are listed the main factors to consider:

Olive Tree Variety

Different olive tree varieties will grow in different sizes. Some olive trees can reach up to 52 feet (16m) in height, others will be smaller size draft olive trees in pots. Our Kalamata olive trees grow up to 20 feet (6m) since we manage their height by pruning annually to simplify olive collection process.

For example one of the most popular olive tree varieties for olive oil is the Koroneiki tree that average height is 15 -20 feet (4.5 – 6 m).

Location / Climate Zone

The location of an olive tree determines the climate that the tree grows in. In general, olive trees grow best and faster in the warm, full of sun Mediterranean climate or subtropical zones. In contrast, olive trees in northern latitudes usually grow a lot more slowly.

Olive Tree Placement

The placement of the olive tree can also be considered in a site-specific context. An olive tree that is growing in the shade may grow more slowly than an olive tree that is thriving in open sunlight a few meters away. An olive tree growing at the top of a hill may grow faster or more slowly than a similar tree of the same species at the bottom of the hill.

Soil

The best soil for olive trees to grow olive is well draining, full with minerals.

Regular Care and Maintenance

Regular watering, fertilizing and pruning should be assured for a steady olive tree growth. Check out our guide on how to care for olive trees.

Restricted Roots

If you keep an olive tree in a pot, it may slow down growth if roots are heavily bounded and don’t have space to “breath”. As to avoid it, repot your tree once in a couple of years by following this guide when is the best time to report olive trees.

As well, find out what other problems with olive trees may affect your olive tree growth.

olive tree growth rate slow
This is a Koroneiki variety olive tree I grow in a pot, every year I am planning to prune and shape it the height I prefer

Tips on How to Make Your Olive Tree Grow Fast

– Ensure lots of sun and well-draining soil for the best olive tree growth rate. If possible, create the Mediterranean climate zone at your home.

– Do not feed the olive tree for the first year, and when you do, use a slow-release, low analysis nitrogenous fertilizer.

– Light pruning after the first year is recommended to correct structural problems and shape your olive tree the way you want.

– To improve a fruit yield for a better harvest, you can speed the growth somewhat by carefully pruning the tree during its first five years, to create a strong, straight central trunk.

– People who are more interested in the ornamental value of the olive tree may prefer to make a bonsai olive tree or let the tree grow naturally.

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Conclusion on Olive Tree Growth Rate

Sunshine, quick-draining soil, airflow, infrequent deep watering, and seasonal feeding are the keys to the faster olive tree growth rate and extended olive tree lifespan. In case you live up North, bring your olive tree indoors to enjoy some warmth during cold seasons to ensure stable growth.  

One more thing, the growth speed and final height of the olive tree will depend on the rootstock upon which the top of the olive tree is grafted. So if you really want to learn the specifics of your olive tree, refer back to the nursery where you bought the plant and see what they tell you.

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Check out 20 tips on how to grow olive trees in pots indoors!

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4 thoughts on “How Fast Does Olive Tree Grow? Olive Tree Growth Rate”

  1. Bought a Mission olive about 30 inches tall single leader with 3 sprawling branches.
    After one year it is 5 feet tall and a 6 foot spread with some training.
    Hopefully it exceeds your predictions as I want to screen from a fence.
    Mark L

  2. Hi Mark, thank you for sharing with us. That is very interesting! Do you have any pictures to share? How old is your tree? How much the trunk itself grew of your tree? For example, A year ago I got a baby olive tree – Koroneiki variety in a pot and its core grew only a few centimeters per last year (branches spread much wider of course, though I trimmed them abit). It all depends on many factors. Normally the best growth of an olive tree in the proportion of its size are the first years.

  3. Hi Mike, one of the fast-growing olive tree varieties are Arbequina, Koroneiki, and Frantoio.

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