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Fruitless Olive Tree Care

When properly cared for, Swan Hill Olives® trees can transform a landscape into a lush inviting space.  Whether they are planted in a container by the pool or lining a driveway, establishing your Swan Hill Olives® trees will ensure they thrive.

Planting Guide

Swan Hill Olives® trees, like all trees planted in a landscape, should never be planted deeper than the original depth of the current rootball.  It is a good practice to plant them “proud,” 1” to 2” above grade, to allow for some settling over time.  The goal is to avoid a low spot around the crown of the tree where water can collect and cause the tree to become stressed or weakened.  The outline of the original rootball should be slightly visible above the finished grade.  When digging the planting pit, the hole should not be over excavated, the bottom of the rootball should rest on undisturbed native soil allowing for the crown to be 1”- 2” above grade.

When setting the tree in the planting pit, do not remove the box banding or bottom if it is in a wooden nursery box (some people disagree with this method and certain planting specifications do require its removal).  The intact bottom boards prevent soil from falling away during handling/lifting and provide a stable base while completing the planting process.  Once the tree has been placed, and properly oriented, the bottom tree band(s) can be removed and backfilling the hole with loose soil can commence.  Once the soil level reaches halfway up the box, the remaining bands can be removed and the box sides slid out.  Next, begin to tamp down the loose soil, while adding more backfill, and lightly water to help settle the soil and remove air pockets or voids. Do not overwater; you do not want to create mud around the rootball which can act to smother roots. 

Once finished planting, a light surface mulch may be incorporated in the top 3”- 4” of the finished grade, avoiding any build up around base (crown) of the trunk.

Rootball Planting Guide
Tree Placement

Tree Placement

To avoid interference with structures, hardscape elements, and understory plantings, consider the relatively dense shade and mature height and width of a Swan Hill Olives® tree.  Careful placement allows for the development of the full, symmetrical canopy and graceful grayish trunks that make the Swan Hill Olives® tree the focal point of any landscape.  Appreciate that the welcome shade generated may reduce the flowering of understory plantings and thin most grass species.


Proper irrigation will ensure the success of your Swan Hill Olives® trees.  Water management in the first 90 days after installation, especially in the warmer seasons, is critical to the tree’s success.  Give the Swan Hill Olives® tree at least six months after installation to acclimate while continuing to monitor irrigation needs.  Do not lay sod within the drip line of the tree and, where possible, avoid planting groundcovers that could lead to the accumulation of standing water or highly saturated soil conditions. Initial irrigation should be directed towards keeping the root ball moist.  When possible, flood irrigate for the first couple of irrigations to promote backfill settling and compaction.  The frequency and duration of irrigations for a specific time of year will be heavily influenced by a variety of local environmental factors: soil, season of the year, high winds, water drainage from other areas of the landscape, and stage of growth.  The best water management tool is the use of a soil probe twice weekly to determine the soil moisture in the root zone, which should be moist, not wet.  Another method you may use to determine water needs during the initial post installation period: if the top ½” to 1” of soil is dry, it is time to water.

Drip Irrigation

Pruning & Shaping

Swan Hill Olives® trees should be pruned and shaped only when necessary, once or twice per year, in late summer and late winter.  Start cleaning out from the interior by removing dead, shaded, crossing, or marginally leafed branches.  Tip prune limbs only to force growth into empty areas and to maintain symmetry and fullness.   As multi-trunk trees mature, the lower branches and foliage are often removed to expose the attractive shape of the lower trunks. Take care to remove all growth or suckers from the base of the tree every year.  It is especially critical to remove sucker growth below the graft point to ensure that the rootstock is not allowed to grow and produce fruit.  Avoid pruning March to June, as fresh pruning cuts may attract Olive Twig Borers in areas where they are present.

Prune Tree Limbs

Pruning Below the Graft

Suckers are shoots that grow from the base of the trunk.  Suckers, especially those growing below the graft point, should be removed each year so they are not allowed to grow and produce fruit.  This will preserve the non-fruiting quality of your Swan Hill Olives® tree.

Suckers Growing Below The Graft Point

Check your tree for suckers below the graft point that need to be removed.

Cutting Suckers Back To The Main Trunk

 Use sharp, clean shears to cut all suckers back to the main trunk.

Pruning Suckers Below The Graft Point

Pruning all suckers below the graft point will ensure that your grafted tree remains fruitless.

Fertilization In Plants


Wait one year after planting to apply a balanced fertilizer with slow-release nitrogen such as Osmocote or Apex.  Fertilizer should be broadcast over the original rootball perimeter.  For best results, make applications in September or October.  All fertilizer applications should be followed by a slow, deep watering with a minimum of 15 to 25 gallons of water.  Always consult the directions and application rates printed on the label of the fertilizer you choose.

Choose Swan Hill Olives® Trees

Choose Swan Hill Olives® trees for your next project. Our trees are suitable for residential designs, commercial landscapes, and municipal projects. Landscape professionals can purchase trees through Devil Mountain Wholesale Nursery. Retail customers can purchase Swan Hill Olives® trees for easy home delivery through Landscape Plant Source.