How To Propagate Olive Trees From Cuttings?

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With their hardy nature, interesting bark, spreading growth habits, evergreen silvery leaves, and food production, olive trees are popular ornamental landscape trees.

You can propagate olive trees from cuttings and they will closely resemble the parent tree in genetic material, size, and olive fruit production when mature. Olive trees’ hardy nature makes them viable for growing in most climates and their low-growing habits make them an ideal tree to plant near a home or in a pot and place it indoors.

Use these tips for successfully taking a cutting and propagating an olive tree for planting in your landscape.

propagate olive trees from cuttings

Benefits of Propagating Olive Trees

Olive tree cuttings propagation refers to the practice of taking a small branch from an established olive tree to grow a new specimen. There are many reasons to do this instead of starting from seed and here are a few of them: 

  • Growing an olive tree from a seed takes too long. Olive trees grown by propagation reach maturity sooner. This is especially desirable for commercial growers. Propagated olive trees generally take 7 -10 years to mature, while those grown from seed can need up to 15 years.
  • Propagating allows you to preserve old olive trees varieties. Perhaps an olive tree is old and delicate, but you really like the olive fruit. To continue this cultivar, propagate a new olive tree from its healthy, young growth. 
  • Olive tree grafting techniques allows you to grow multiple olive varieties on one tree to save space. This option is great for people with smaller yards.
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When To Take Olive Tree Cuttings?

When you choose which olive cultivar you want to propagate, take an olive tree cutting in the summer just after the new growth has begun to harden.

If the tree produces olives, wait until the blooms have faded and the olives are visible before taking a cutting. For olive tree grow seasonality, check out the olive growth cycle post.

guide on how to take olive tree cuttings
I took around 8-inch (20 cm) long cutting from the tip of a healthy and strong olive branch with a pair of sharp scissors

How To Take Olive Tree Cuttings?

As to grow an olive tree from a cutting, here are steps on how to take it:

  • Take an 8-inch (20 cm) long cutting from the tip of a healthy olive branch with a pair of sharp scissors. The best is to cut young olive branches, those under a year old.
  • Choose a branch that is 1/4-inch (0.6 cm) in diameter.
  • Cut it 1/8-inch (0.3 cm) below a leaf node.
  • Make one swift cut and do not crush the branch.
  • Remove all the leaves from the base of the cutting, leaving 4 – 6 leaves at the tip in order to reduce moisture loss.
how to take olive tree cuttings
When you take olive tree cuttings the best is to cut the young less than 1 year old branches like this one in front of the picture
olive tree cuttings propagating
Make one swift cut and do not crush the branch as not to damage olive tree cutting

Prepare Soil And A Container

Rooting mixture is not garden soil but much lighter suitable to grow your new olive trees. The key is to choose something that will retain water and not be too dense for the newly sprouting olive roots.

You can purchase a pre-made rooting medium at any garden center or mix your own:

  • You will need sand that has been washed so all the clay, silt, and other debris have been removed. This type of sand is referred to as masonry sand, playground sand, or washed sand.
  • The second component to the rooting mixture is peat in powdered form, usually referred to as milled peat.
  • Mix these two components half and half and saturate them with water.

Then squeeze out excess water by hand and place the mixture into an 8-inch (20 cm) container that has bottom drainage holes.

Use a pencil and poke a 4-inch (10 cm) deep hole into the center of the rooting mixture.

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These are olive tree cuttings propagated in a garden center for a year and ready to be planted in a ground

Dip In Rooting Hormone

Dip the cut end of the branch into powdered rooting hormone or rooting gel and shake off the excess. The rooting hormone will promote strong healthy root development on the cutting.

As well, the rooting hormone kills fungus and bacteria to prevent the branch from rotting and contain a growth hormone to speed the formation of roots. if you don’t have a commercial rooting hormone at the moment of planting, then use a pinch of cinnamon which has anti-fungal properties.

Place the cutting into the prepared hole of the rooting mixture and firm the mixture around the stem base.

Last update on 2023-02-04 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Ensure Warm Location For Olive Cuttings

The container will need to be placed in a warm location on a propagation mat or heating pad for a few months. The soil and cutting should be kept around 70 degrees F (21°C) during the rooting process.

Place the heated mat/pad in a sheltered location that will provide light shade.

Keep Olive Tree Cuttings Moist

Mist the olive tree cutting twice a day and add a little extra water to the rooting mixture as needed to keep it moist. After the roots have formed on the cutting reduce watering to once a week and stop misting the cutting.

Another way to keep the olive tree cuttings moist is to cover the container with a plastic bag to imitate a mini greenhouse. Cut a few slits in this bag first to let it breathe and prevent the growth of mold. Fasten the mouth of the bag around the container with a rubber band or string – this will keep in moisture. Watch for olive roots to grow.

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This is a greenhouse imitation to keep moist and grow olive tree cuttings

How Long Does It Take For Olive Tree Cuttings To Root?

It will take the olive tree cutting approximately 3-months to root.

Check it after 3 months by gently tugging upward on the cutting. If you feel resistance new roots have formed. After the roots have formed, turn off the heated mat/pad.

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These olive tree cuttings are ready to be transferred into individual plastic containers

Transplanting Time To A Permanent Location

Leave the cutting in the same location and water weekly until spring. After all danger of frost has passed in the spring move the container to an outdoor location that provides shade and wind protection to the cutting.

This container will need to remain in this location until fall when the cutting will have developed a strong enough root system to be transplanted into its permanent home. Check out useful tips on how to plant olive trees in a container or pot. Continue to water the cutting weekly.

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Olive trees propagated from cuttings and grown in a local garden center here in Kalamata, Greece
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Generic FAQs

Can you root olive tree cuttings in water?

Yes, you can start rooting olive tree cuttings in water, while others prefer rooting them directly in the sandy soil.
Dip the cut end of the cutting in a rooting hormone and place it in a glass or jar with several inches of water. Add water to the container as it evaporates. Watch for olive roots to grow.

How to encourage olive roots to grow from cuttings?

You can use powdered rooting hormone purchased at any garden center or natural rooting hormone found in your kitchen to encourage olive roots to grow from cuttings.
The rooting hormone acts as a catalyst for the new olive roots and protects the cuttings from fungus and other diseases that may have been introduced during the cutting process.

How long does it take the newly propagated olive tree to produce olives?

It will take the newly propagated olive tree 3 years to produce olives depending on the olive variety. Don’t be surprised if the olive tree doesn’t produce in the fourth year or only produces a light harvest. Olive trees are alternate-year-bearing species and produce a year of heavy fruit followed by a year of light fruit production.

Essentials Needed to Propagate Olive Trees

We have selected highly customers recommended available products on Amazon:

  • Viagrow Rooting Container
  • Mosser Lee Dessert Sand Soil
  • Hormex Rooting Powder

Last update on 2023-02-04 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Final Thoughts

To propagate olive trees from cuttings is a great way of multiplying the olive trees you have and even sharing the tree love with friends. It can be hard to give away an olive tree that you’ve been nursing from its beginning.  But, it is such an amazing gift, as well rewarding!  

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I hope this article is helpful for you to grow olive trees from cuttings and trade with your friends. Once you are ready to pot your rooted olive tree, check out repot olive tree post. Actually, it won’t be a repotting process but there are some good tips about potting in general. Thank you so much for visiting and let us know how did it go to grow your own olive trees!

how to grow olive tree indoors

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

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Are You Looking to Buy an Olive Tree? 

If you are looking to add more potted trees or other plants to your orchard, or if you like to replace a neglected olive tree, the best places to get them are your local nursery or an online nursery.

One of the most reliable and the world's largest online nurseries is Fast Growing Trees. They deliver fast, neat, and healthy plants backed with a 30-day guarantee.

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