How Big Can Olive Trees Grow? (Size Chart)

Written by Desiree Vilar in Olives

Olive trees can vary in size from small, manageable shrubs suitable for container gardening to towering trees that dominate landscapes, depending on their variety and the conditions in which they are grown. In this article, we will find out how big olive trees grow using a comprehensive size chart.

Olive trees typically reach heights of 20 to 30 feet (6 to 9 meters) and can spread about 15 to 20 feet (4.5 to 6 meters) wide. Ancient olive trees, however, can exceed 50 feet (15 meters) in height and develop trunks up to 20 feet (6 meters) in circumference.

Aside from age, other factors that affect olive tree growth include nutrient-rich soil, careful pruning, and just the right amount of sun and water. Let's dissect how these factors fuel their growth.


  • Olive trees grow at variable rates during their early years (0-2 years), focusing on root development, and can reach up to 24 inches in height.
  • During the juvenile stage (3-7 years), olive trees experience rapid height increases and begin forming branches, growing up to 60 inches tall.
  • In the maturation stage (8-50 years), olive trees grow steadily at 6 to 12 inches per year, reaching heights between 8 and 20 feet.
  • Dwarf olive trees are designed for smaller spaces, growing between 6 and 10 feet tall, while standard olive trees can reach heights of 20 to 30 feet.
  • The olive tree's root system expands with age, with mature trees having roots that can extend deeply into the soil, up to 30 feet, to access water.

Olive Tree Size by Age

Below is a friendly guide on what to expect as your olive tree matures:

Age Range Expected Height Range Growth Rate per Year
0-2 years Up to 24 inches (2 feet) Variable
3-7 years 36 - 60 inches (3 - 5 feet) Up to 12 inches
8-50 years 96 - 240 inches (8 - 20 feet) 6 - 12 inches

Seedling stage (0-2 years)

  • Height: Up to 2 feet
  • Growth: Slow, with the primary focus on root establishment

During this stage, growth above ground may seem slow, as the plant is investing more in its underground development.

It's a time of adaptation, where the young plant adjusts to its environment and begins to build the framework for its later stages of growth.

Proper care, including adequate watering, soil management, and protection from extreme conditions, is essential to ensure a healthy start.

Juvenile stage (3-7 years)

  • Height: 3 to 5 feet
  • Growth: More rapid, noticeable height increases, and branch formation

As the olive tree enters its juvenile stage, you'll start to see more pronounced growth in terms of height and structure. This is when the tree begins to develop its characteristic shape, with the formation of branches that will later bear fruit.

Growth during this phase can be quite rapid, especially if the tree is provided with optimal growing conditions, including sufficient sunlight, water, and nutrients.

This stage marks a period of visible transformation, as the tree becomes more robust and establishes its presence in the landscape.

How tall is a 5-year-old olive tree?

When your olive tree reaches 5 years of age, it has been growing at a steady pace. Typically, olive trees grow 2-12 inches annually, but this can reach up to 25 inches under ideal conditions. By the time an olive tree is 5 years old, it is well into its youthful growth spurt.

Given these growth rates, you can expect a 5-year-old olive tree to stand somewhere around 10 to 60 inches tall. However, growth can vary widely depending on factors such as the tree's environment, care, and genetics.

Maturation stage (8-50 years)

  • Height: 8 to 20 feet
  • Growth: Steady, 6 to 12 inches annually

By this stage, the tree has developed a strong structural framework and has likely begun to produce fruit. Growth continues at a steady pace, with the tree adding 6 to 12 inches in height each year.

This phase is characterized by the tree's ability to withstand harsher conditions, thanks to its established root system and mature structure. The olive tree's longevity and resilience become apparent, as it can live and produce fruit for many years, even centuries, with proper care.

During this stage, maintenance focuses on pruning for health and productivity, along with continued attention to watering and nutritional needs.

The maturation stage highlights the olive tree's journey from a delicate seedling to a robust and productive tree, embodying the essence of growth and resilience.

Typical Height of Olive Trees

Olive trees have a wide range of sizes depending on their specific type and growth conditions. The typical height for mature olive trees can vary significantly.

Feature Dwarf Olive Trees Standard Olive Trees
Height 6 to 10 feet tall 20 to 30 feet tall
Growth rate Relatively slow, similar to standard olive trees, but reach their maximum height quicker due to their smaller size Slow-growing, taking several years to reach full size

Dwarf olive trees typically range from 6 to 10 feet tall

Dwarf olive trees typically grow to a height of 6 to 10 feet tall, making them well-suited for small spaces, container gardening, or as ornamental features in a landscape where space is limited. Their compact size allows for easier maintenance and harvesting.

Standard olive trees generally grow to be between 20 and 30 feet tall

Standard olive trees, on the other hand, are much larger, generally reaching heights of 20 to 30 feet tall. Their larger stature makes them ideal for traditional olive production and as striking landscape trees, offering shade and visual appeal.

They can become significant landmarks in gardens and agricultural settings due to their impressive height and spread.

Canopy Size of Olive Trees

Typically, the canopy of an olive tree will develop into a rounded shape, given enough sun exposure. Pruning is a valuable tool to manage the size, allowing you to both shape the tree and control its spread.

Regular trimming helps maintain the desired width and facilitates even sunlight distribution, essential for an olive tree's growth.

Olive trees are evergreen, meaning they retain their leaves throughout the year. There's a variety to the potential canopy width, influenced by the specific cultivar and growing conditions.

Age of Olive Tree Expected Canopy Width
Young tree (upto 5 years) 6-8 ft (1.8-2.4 m)
Mature tree (10+ years) 12-20 ft (3.6-6 m)
Very old tree (50+ years) Can exceed 30 ft (9 m)

You'll aim to prune the canopy to keep your olive tree's shape conducive to its environment, whether it's situated within a grove or a landscaped garden.

Keep in mind that the pruning should be done annually, and the method you choose can alter the ultimate spread of your olive tree's branches. Aim for a habit that allows for light penetration and good airflow through the canopy.

Root System Spread of Olive Trees

Here's a brief size chart to help you gauge the root spread:

Tree Age Estimated Root Spread Width Estimated Root Spread Depth
Young olive tree 3 feet 3 feet
Mature olive tree Up to crown width 3-5 feet, veins up to 30 feet
  • Young olive trees: Initially, the roots of olive trees are relatively compact, with both the spread width and depth reaching up to 3 feet. This suggests a balanced, shallow root system that supports the young tree's growth and stability.

  • Mature olive trees: As olive trees age and mature, their root systems expand significantly in width, extending up to the tree's crown width. In terms of depth, mature olive trees maintain a relatively shallow main root depth of 3-5 feet.

However, they develop vein-like roots that can extend deeply into the soil, reaching down to 30 feet. These deep-reaching veins are crucial for accessing water from deeper soil layers, especially important in arid environments where olive trees commonly grow.

Are olive tree roots big?

Olive tree roots have a distinctive rooting pattern. They typically spread more horizontally than they do vertically.

Most of the root system spreads within the first 10 feet of soil. In certain cases, such as when the soil is very loose, some roots can reach depths of 23 feet.

Here's a breakdown of their rooting behavior:

  • Horizontal spread: Generally extensive, dominating within the upper 3 feet of soil.
  • Vertical depth: Can reach 10 feet deep, with outliers at 23 feet in specific conditions.

However, olive tree roots usually won't interfere with foundations or plumbing, as they are not considered particularly invasive compared to some species.

There are, though, exceptions like the Russian olive tree, which is known to have more aggressive roots. Even in non-invasive varieties, you should plant them a safe distance from structures to avoid any potential for damage.

Depth Range Soil Type Note
Up to 10 feet Normal Most common root depth
Up to 23 feet Very loose soils Uncommon, but possible root depth

In most situations, your olive tree's roots will be substantial but manageably sized, blending well with your garden landscape without posing too much of a threat to its surroundings.

Size Variations Among Olive Tree Species

Olive trees come in a variety of species and cultivars, each with unique growth patterns and size potential. Here's a brief look at how these can vary:

Variety Height Width
Arbequina 10-15 feet 6-10 feet
Mission 20-30 feet 15-20 feet
Picual 15-20 feet 10-15 feet
Koroneiki 10-12 feet 6-8 feet
Frantoio 15-30 feet 10-20 feet

Arbequina are compact olive varieties

Arbequina olive trees are known for their adaptability and compact size, making them popular for both commercial orchards and home gardens.

They produce small, flavorful olives that are often used for olive oil production. Arbequina trees are also appreciated for their early fruit production and high oil yield.

Mission olive trees can grow quite large

Mission olive trees are a versatile variety, originally from California, suitable for table olives and oil. They can grow quite large and produce a reliable yield.

The olives have a distinct taste, and the oil is highly regarded for its flavor and quality. These trees are drought-resistant and adaptable to different environments.

Picual olives are robust in size

The Picual variety, originating from Spain, is the most widely planted olive for oil production globally. It's known for its robust size and the high quality of oil it produces, which is rich in antioxidants and has a long shelf life. The trees are hardy and drought-resistant, with a strong root system.

Koroneiki olive trees are small in size

Koroneiki olives, native to Greece, are small in size but highly prized for the exceptional quality of oil they produce, which is rich and aromatic.

The trees are compact, making them suitable for dense planting, and they are known for their resilience and high productivity, even in less-than-ideal soil conditions.

Frantoio varieties can grow up to 30 feet tall

Originating from Italy, Frantoio olive trees are widely regarded for producing one of the best oils, favored for their fruity flavor and aromatic quality.

These trees can adapt to various climatic conditions and are resistant to many olive diseases. They bear fruit that is excellent for oil, with a high oil content and quality.

Size of Olive Trees Throughout Different Life Stages

Seedling phase

This is when your olive tree begins its life. Over the first few years, it will grow at its fastest rate.

  • Year 1: Expect your olive tree to grow between 2 and 12 inches.
  • Year 3-5: The growth rate starts to stabilize.

Maturation and fruiting

As olive trees mature, they reach a substantial size and start fruiting:

Age (Years) Growth Rate (per Year) Height Range
2-15 2-12 inches Varied
15+ Slower rate Up to 25-30 feet

Mature olive trees grow more gradually. After the initial growth spurt, the increase in height slows down significantly.

For optimal growth, consistent care is important. Ensure you water the tree adequately, especially during dry periods, and provide regular pruning to encourage healthy development and fruiting.

How big do full-grown olive trees get?

When they're fully grown, olive trees can reach substantial sizes. Here's what you can expect:

Age of Tree Height Spread
10 years 10-20 feet 6-12 feet
20 years 15-25 feet 10-15 feet
50+ years 20-30 feet 15-20 feet

Full-grown olive trees typically reach a height of between 20 and 30 feet (6 to 9 meters), with some varieties growing up to 50 feet (15 meters) under optimal conditions.

They have a broad, spreading canopy that can be as wide as their height. The size of an olive tree can vary depending on the specific variety, growing conditions, and how it's pruned or managed.

Zonal Variations in Sizes of Olive Trees

When you're exploring the potential size of olive trees, climate zones play a crucial role. Specifically, olive trees flourish in Mediterranean climates where they receive optimal conditions for growth.

These areas provide the warm temperatures and full sun exposure olive trees love.

Region Climate Type Size Potential
California Mediterranean Up to 20-40 feet tall
Iran Arid, Mediterranean 20-25 feet tall
Syria Mediterranean Up to 20-30 feet tall

In these regions, given full sun exposure and good care, some olive varieties may reach considerable heights and spread.

  • California: Olive trees can grow up to 20-40 feet tall, benefiting from the region's ideal Mediterranean climate.

  • Iran: Due to its arid and Mediterranean climate, olive trees typically reach 20-25 feet in height, with proper irrigation and care.

  • Syria: With a Mediterranean climate similar to Iran, olive trees in Syria can also grow up to 20-30 feet tall, depending on conditions and care.

Disease Management in Various Olive Tree Sizes

Managing diseases in your olive trees depends on their size, which corresponds to their age and stage of growth. Young trees are especially susceptible to pests and diseases, while mature ones have different concerns.

Tree Size Pruning Frequency Common Diseases
Small 1-2 times a year Peacock Spot
Medium As needed Olive Knot
Large Biennially Verticillium Wilt

Young olive trees (Up to 6 feet)

  • Pruning: Ensure you prune the trees to maintain strong structures and open canopies, which will improve airflow and reduce disease risk.
  • Pest control: Watch for pests that are attracted to young, tender foliage and manage them promptly.

Mature olive trees (over 6 feet to 25-30 feet)

  • Monitoring: Regularly check for signs of diseases such as Verticillium wilt since mature trees are at a higher risk.
  • Foliage care: Clear fallen leaves to prevent the spread of fungal diseases.

Dwarf and multitrunked varieties

  • Disease prevention: Focus on disease prevention through integrated pest management to keep your trees healthy.
  • Care routine: Continually adjust your care routine as your trees grow to protect against pests and ensure their longevity.\

Check out the most common olive tree diseases in this article and how you can combat them.

Controlling the Size of Olive Tree

Can you keep olive trees small?

You can maintain a smaller size for your olive tree with proper care and techniques. Dwarf varieties are specifically bred to stay compact, ideal for indoor growth or small outdoor spaces.

Regularly pruning your olive tree helps to manage its size

  • Spring and summer: Prune for shape and size control.
  • Winter: Remove dead or diseased wood.

The size of the pot can limit the size of the tree

  • Smaller pots: Lead to smaller trees.
  • Repotting: Consider the tree's growth rate.

Choose dwarf olive varieties

  • Grow between 4-6 feet tall.
  • 'Little Ollie' and the 'Chemali' are popular dwarf varieties suitable for small spaces.

Be mindful of your cultivation techniques

  • Sunlight: Ensure full sun for health without promoting excessive growth.
  • Watering: Adequate water without overdoing it is key.

Can you dwarf an olive tree?

Yes, you can "dwarf" an olive tree. Dwarfing a plant typically involves restricting its growth to keep it smaller than its natural size, which can be beneficial for growing the plant in small gardens or even in containers. Here are some methods to achieve this with an olive tree:


Growing an olive tree in a container naturally restricts its root growth, which in turn limits the size of the tree. This is a common method for dwarfing many types of trees, including olives.


Regular and strategic pruning is key to controlling the size of an olive tree. Pruning the top and sides of the tree can keep it compact, while also encouraging a desirable shape.

For olive trees grown in the ground, root pruning is a method used to limit the size of the tree. This involves cutting the roots at a certain distance from the trunk to restrict the tree's ability to absorb water and nutrients, thus controlling its size.

Soil and fertilization

Managing the type and amount of fertilization can also impact the growth of an olive tree. Limiting nitrogen-rich fertilizers, for example, can help control growth, as excessive nitrogen encourages rapid growth.

How Long Do Olive Trees Live? (Complete Life Cycle)

Olive trees have been cultivated for over 6,000 years across the Mediterranean region. Depending on the variety and growing conditions, these trees can begin …

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