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I would like to grow a small olive tree in my balcony. Preferably I would not like my tree to grow larger than 2 meters tall and gives me nice organic olives. Length can also be controlled by the size of the pot obviously. What do you suggest?

Edit: What are the common diseases and pests of an olive tree?

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  • What part of the world are you in, and will the olive be in full sun?
    – Bamboo
    Nov 5 '15 at 22:04
  • In the middle of the Mediterranean. Yes they will be in full sun Nov 5 '15 at 22:21
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You can readily grow an olive tree in a pot, and you can keep its growth restricted over time by pruning, but if you want lots of fruit under those conditions, it's not quite so easy.

First, olives grown for fruit need a two month period of cold weather (temperatures below 10 deg C) in order to initiate fruiting. Prolonged colder temperatures will inhibit fruiting though - 7.5 deg C or lower for a period of time.

Second, the olives are borne on the tips of the previous year's growth, which obviously means you'd need to be careful about how much pruning you do. There are some smaller cultivars which are better suited to restricted spaces, but many of these are non fruiting types.

Third, better fruiting is achieved by growing more than one olive tree; most self fertile ones, though, will produce fruit without another tree nearby, but there are varieties which need another tree for fertilisation of the flowers. Bear in mind that olives are slow growing plants, and fruiting doesn't usually occur before the plant is around five years old anyway. That said, you need also to think about the variety of olive - some are only used for pressing, others for both curing and pressing, and others just cured for eating. The link here http://www.gardeningblog.net/how-to-grow/olives/ gives general information.

The link below gives some useful information on growing olives on a balcony, in pots, and mentions a couple of fruiting varieties which are smaller and therefore better for pot culture

http://lifeonthebalcony.com/how-to-grow-an-olive-tree-in-a-container/

You might also like to know that ripe, black olives can be picked and eaten straight away, but taste nothing like the ones you buy - those will have been picked either when they're green and unripe, or black and ripe, and then cured to produce a more palatable product.

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  • This is true about pruning, but then that simply dictate when to prune so you can maximumize your fruit output while continuing to dwarf your tree. Also, you can grow two trees and prime them on alternate years. If output is your main goal then this might be the best option, but if you can have only one, then prune immediately after fruit harvest so the tree pushes out a little more growth before going dormant.
    – Escoce
    Nov 6 '15 at 14:44
  • @Escoce - that's not going to work, your method if you have two trees, one will flower too late for the other if you do that. It's also best to selectively prune a single tree yearly, meaning you leave some growth untouched....
    – Bamboo
    Nov 6 '15 at 15:49
  • Thank you for the replies guys. I would also like to ask which are the most common diseases of an olive tree? In addition, which type of olives would be best to grow? Nov 8 '15 at 9:39
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All olives are good candidates for dwarfing through pruning and root management. Take your pick and learn a little about bonsai, it will help teach you the principles of managing root systems in potted trees.

First principle is start them in the smallest pots you can and only increase the size of the pot when you can't manage the root ball anymore in that same pot size. This will develop a tight network of roots throughout the the soil rather than becoming root bound.

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