December 19, 2022

Olive trees (Olea europaea) are a popular choice for landscaping in warmer climates, but did you know that they can also tolerate cold temperatures? While olive trees are native to the Mediterranean region, where winters are mild, they can survive in colder climates with proper care. 

One key factor in olive tree cold tolerance is the variety. Some olive tree varieties are more cold-hardy than others. For example, the Arbequina olive tree is known for its high cold tolerance and can survive in temperatures down to about 15°F (-9°C). Other cold-hardy varieties include the Manzanillo, Mission, and Sevillano.

Another important factor in olive tree cold tolerance is the tree’s age and size. Young olive trees are more susceptible to cold damage than mature trees. Similarly, smaller trees are more vulnerable to cold than larger trees. Therefore, it’s important to protect young and small olive trees during cold spells.

There are a few steps you can take to help your olive tree survive cold temperatures:

  1. Choose a cold-hardy variety: As mentioned, some olive tree varieties are more cold-tolerant than others. Consider choosing a cold-hardy variety for your region.
  2. Plant in a protected location: Olive trees prefer full sun, but they also need some protection from cold winds. Plant your olive tree in a sheltered location such as against a south-facing wall or in a corner of your yard where it will be protected from cold winds.
  3. Mulch around the base of the tree: Mulching helps to insulate the roots and lower trunk of the tree, which are most susceptible to cold damage. Use a mulch of straw or wood chips, and make sure it extends about 2 feet out from the trunk. 
  4. Water regularly: Olive trees need regular watering, especially in the winter months when the soil is dry. Proper watering helps to keep the tree hydrated and healthy, which can improve its cold tolerance.
  5. Use frost cloth or blankets: If you expect a hard freeze or very cold temperatures, you can use frost cloth or blankets to protect your olive tree. Simply drape the cloth or blankets over the tree, securing them at the base. Make sure the tree is completely covered, including the branches.

By following these tips, you can help your olive tree survive cold temperatures and continue to thrive in your landscape. Happy gardening!

For further information on how to care for your olive tree, please visit our Olive Tree Care page.