Can You Grow Olive Trees in USDA Zone 8? Which Are Best?

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Written By Shannon Campbell

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Home » USDA Zone 8 » Can You Grow Olive Trees in USDA Zone 8? Which Are Best?

Whether you eat them fresh, pickled, or cured, the olive is a tasty, decadent little fruit that has been a prized part of Mediterranean cuisine for thousands of years.

If you enjoy this savory snack, you’ve probably thought about planting an olive tree on your zone 8 property.

After all, olive trees don’t just provide food – virtually all olive tree species possess ornamental qualities, adding evergreen beauty to the landscape.

But olive trees also need specific temperatures and growing conditions to flower and fruit successfully.

Can you grow your own olives in USDA hardiness zone 8? Let’s take a look.

Can You Grow Olive Trees in Zone 8?

Olives do best in a Mediterranean climate, and mimicking the conditions of the Mediterranean is the best way to encourage them to thrive outside of their native environments.

The ideal range for most olive varieties is zones 9 to 11, where summers are long and hot with minimal to no frost period. When choosing olive cultivars, cold hardiness is one of the most important factors to consider according to the UC Davis Olive Center.

Most olive tree varieties will not fare well if temperatures consistently fall below 20 degrees F. Prolonged exposure, i.e. more than 4 or 5 days in a row of consistently cold weather will stunt growth and flower production, or even kill the tree itself.

However, this is not true for all olive varieties. In fact, there are plenty of hugely popular olive tree cultivars that will grow well in zone 8, even without the need for winter protection or container planting. As long as you choose relatively cold hardy olive varieties, you’ll be able to grow these fruiting trees successfully.

Here are eight of the best options for planting olive trees in zone 8.

8 Best Olive Trees To Plant In USDA Zone 8

1. Pendolino (Olea europaea ‘Pendolino’)

Pendolino Olive Tree
Image via Nature Hills

An old Italian olive variety, the Pendolino is an attractive tree known for its high fruit production, and most importantly, its ability to pollinate other olive varieties. A self-fertile tree, the Pendolino can be used to help pollinate every other type of Italian olive variety!

If you are considering growing a Leccino in zone 8, the Pendolino is possibly its best pollination partner.

Outside of its utility, this olive cultivar is also known for its lovely growth habit, with long weeping branches and a dense, vase-shaped canopy. Its evergreen leaves have a silvery underside that catches the light on those hot summer days. It does well as a specimen tree and also grows successfully as a container tree.

The olives of the Pendolino have a subtle, fruity flavor and are often combined with stronger-tasting varieties when sold commercially. The trees can live for up to 200 years.

Growing Zones: 8-10

Average Size at Maturity: 15-20 feet tall, with a 10-15 foot spread

Fruiting Season: Early Fall

Available at: Fast-Growing-Trees & Nature Hills

2. Koroneiki (Olea europaea ‘Koroneiki’)

Koroneiki Olive tree
Image via Nature Hills

Next, we have the Grecian cultivar Koroneiki, which is known for producing some of the highest-quality oil of any olive cultivar in Greece. It makes up 50% of all olive acreages in the country, which has earned it the national moniker “Queen of Olives”.

The small olives are harvested once they turn black, and have been a staple ingredient in Greece since ancient times.

Koroneiki trees are small trees that have an open, spreading habit and look wonderful planted near a patio or around a courtyard or seating area. They can be planted in dense mass plantings and also grow well in containers, though container planting is not necessary in zone 8.

It is a hardy, adaptable olive cultivar with few serious growing requirements. Plant your Koroneiki tree in a location with full sun in moist, well-draining soil with a slightly alkaline pH.

Other Common Names: Koroni, Koronia, Mikrokarpi, Ladolia, Psilolia

Growing Zones: 8-10

Average Size at Maturity: 12-15 feet tall, with a 15-20 foot spread

Fruiting Season: Late Fall to Early Winter

Available at: Fast-Growing-Trees & Nature Hills

3. Arbequino (Olea europaea ‘Arbequina’)

Arbequino olive tree with olives on it
Image via Nature Hills

The most widely planted olive cultivar in California, the Arbequino is a Spanish olive known for its black, meaty fruits that are perfect for fresh eating, slicing onto pizzas, using as table olives, or milling into oil.

The Arbequino tree is a rugged, adaptable tree that works equally well grown in the ground or in containers, and it is perfectly suitable for outdoor growing in Zone 8.

With its creamy white flowers and dark green leaves, the tree will add some sophisticated color to your property. With their dense foliage, they can even work well as small shade trees!

The Arbequino is self-pollinating, easy to grow, and takes well to pruning. For amateur gardeners, this cultivar is a great choice. Plant it in a location with full sun or partial shade, in soil that is rocky and well-draining with an alkaline pH.

Other Common Names: Arbequina

Growing Zones: 4-10

Average Size at Maturity: 12-15 feet tall, with a 15-20 foot spread

Fruiting Season: Late Fall to Early Winter

Available at: Fast-Growing-Trees & Nature Hills

4. Manzanilla (Olea europaea ‘Manzanillo’)

Manzanilla Olive tree
Image via Nature Hills

The most widely cultivated olive tree in Spain is the Manzanilla, and for good reason. Hailing from the city of Seville, this olive cultivar is known for its sweet, meaty flesh and a pit that is especially easy to remove. It is equally excellent as a table olive and for turning into olive oil.

This broadleaved evergreen is slightly taller than other zone 8 olive cultivars, reaching up to 30 feet tall when grown outdoors. It is particularly slow-growing and recognizable for its unusually gnarled trunk. It looks good planted in a front yard, in the center of a large open lawn, or en masse along your property line.

While it grows best with a companion plant, the Manzanilla is technically self-fertile and can fruit reliably on its own. It is highly adaptable, able to grow in most soil types and pH levels, and can even grow in very nutritionally poor soil. For best results plant this olive cultivar in rocky, well-draining soil.

Other Common Names: Manzanillo Olive, Manzanilla de Sevilla

Growing Zones: 7-10

Average Size at Maturity: 20-30 feet tall, with a 20-foot spread

Fruiting Season: Early Fall

Available at: Fast-Growing-Trees & Nature Hills

5. Arbosana (Olea europaea ‘Arbosana’)

Arbosana Olive Tree
Image via Nature Hills

Another high-quality Spanish cultivar, the Arbosana is a vigorous grower that produces a reliable harvest every season. Its fruits are small and fragrant, with a strong flavor that is often referred to as both fruity and nutty. They can be used for fresh eating, preserved in brine, or pressed into robust olive oil.

Arbosana olive trees add a Mediterranean flair to your property with evergreen leaves the color of sage, and due to their small size, they can easily be grown in mass plantings to optimize your olive output. Consider planting it in a container for convenience’s sake, or even keeping it inside year-round as an exotic houseplant!

This is a versatile tree that should be planted in moist, well-draining soil with a slightly alkaline pH and full sun exposure. It should be watered deeply until fully established but is very drought tolerant once mature. Consider providing wind protection for sensitive saplings.

Other Common Names: Arbosano

Growing Zones: 8-10

Average Size at Maturity: 12-15 feet tall, with a 12-20 foot spread

Fruiting Season: Late Fall

Available at: Nature Hills

6. Leccino (Olea europaea ‘Leccino’)

The Leccino is a classic Italian cultivar hailing from Tuscany and is now grown on olive plantations around the world. This olive tree is hardy down to zone 7, and will grow perfectly in zone 8 without any winter protection – it is one of the most cold hardy varieties on the market.

The fruits of the Leccino are large and have a rather subtle flavor, producing wonderfully delicate olive oil which is one of the most popular types of oil in Italy. When eaten fresh or as table olives they are often combined with stronger-tasting olives.

Unlike most other cold hardy olive trees the Leccino grows naturally as a tree, without the shrubby lower branches. It is a fast-growing tree that can begin producing small batches after just 2 years of growth.

Keep in mind that the Leccino is not self-pollinating, and will need a partner growing a minimum of 20 feet away to produce fruit.

Other Common Names: Leccio, Premise, Silverstone

Growing Zones: 7-9

Average Size at Maturity: 25-30 feet tall, with a 15-20 foot spread

Fruiting Season: Mid to Late Summer

Available at: Fast-Growing-Trees & Nature Hills

7. Kalamata (Olea europaea ‘Kalamata’)

Kalamata Olive tree bearing fruit
Image by Stephan Ridgway via Flickr

One of the world’s most famous olive cultivars, the Kalamata was first cultivated in southern Greece, in the regions around the city of Kalamata. The fruits are large and dark brown in color with a fruity, slightly bitter flavor.

While they can be used to make olive oil, they are most often brined in red wine vinegar and stuffed and eaten as table snacks.

The Kalamata is a larger specimen with a rounded canopy and dense foliage made up of large evergreen leaves. The trunk of the tree is rough and twisted, and it produces small creamy flowers both of which boost its ornamental appeal. It grows quickly and boasts reliably heavy yields in early winter, and is a self-pollinating variety.

Plant the Kalamata tree in a location with full sun exposure and a wide range of soils, as long as it is well-draining.

Other Common Names: Kalamon

Growing Zones: 8-10

Average Size at Maturity: 20-25 feet tall, with a 20-foot spread

Fruiting Season: Early Winter

8. Picholine (Olea europaea ‘Picholine’)

Picholine Olive tree with fruit on it
Image by Jean Weber via Flickr

Native to France, the Picholine is the most widely planted olive in the country and is the most common candidate for olive oil in Morrocco. Despite this, it is best known around the world as a cocktail olive.

The fruits are picked while green for fresh eating and pickling, or when black for olive oil. They have a crisp texture and a mild, fruity flavor.

The tree is medium-sized compared to other olive varieties, with an open spreading habit and is suitable for zone 8 temperatures. It is very versatile, able to grow in most soil types, and with a particular tolerance to drought. It needs to be watered thoroughly to establish a strong root system.

The Picholine isn’t without its drawbacks – it is only partially self-fertile so an appropriate pollination partner is highly recommended, it is susceptible to some pests, and it has a somewhat low yield compared to other more popular varieties.

Other Common Names: Picholine du Gard, Colliasse, Fausse Lucques, Piquette, Coiasses, Fausse

Growing Zones: 8-10

Average Size at Maturity: 12-18 feet tall

Fruiting Season: Late Fall to Early Winter

Delicious Olives and Mediterranean Evergreen Beauty

Olive lovers need not fear, average winter temperatures in USDA hardiness zone 8 are more than adequate for planting bountiful olive trees, both indoors and outdoors.

Most olive trees are not particularly high maintenance either. Combined with the fact that most of the above olive cultivars don’t need to be overwintered or planted in containers, you’ll find it remarkably easy to establish either a single olive tree or a crop on your property.

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Shannon Campbell

Off-Grid Gardener & Food Forager

Shannon has always loved looking after trees and plants since as long as she can remember. She grew up gardening with her family in their off-grid home and looking after her neighbor's plant nursery. As a child she also participated in native tree replanting, and as an adult has volunteered in reforestation programs in northern Vietnam. Today, she puts her horticultural efforts into tending her vegetable and herb gardens, and learning about homesteading and permaculture. When she’s not reading, writing, and gardening, she’ll be out fishing and foraging for edible flora and fungi in the countryside around her home.

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