How to propagate olive trees

Olive trees are native to the coastal regions of the Mediterranean. They can be propagated by seed, grafting or stem cuttings. Olive trees grown by seed, however, are unpredictable and the trees do not produce much fruit.

Taking cuttings from an existing olive tree is the most common, successful way to propagate the tree. Knowledge of how to take and care for these cuttings will help you to grow your own olive tree.

Cut an 8-inch pencil-width cutting from the olive tree with a sharp knife in August or September. The stem should be healthy and have numerous leaves on it.

Fill a pot with equal parts peat, perlite and sand. These rooting mediums should all be fresh to avoid spreading fungus.

Prepare the cutting for rooting. Pluck the leaves off the bottom 1/3 of the cutting and dip the base of the stem into a rooting hormone. Follow the directions on the package to use the rooting hormone properly.

Stick the cutting into the rooting medium so that it stands upright. Push it down so that the bare leaf nodes where you took off the leaves are under the soil. Do not let the remaining leaves touch the soil.

Water the olive cutting deeply. Place a plastic bag or milk jug with the top removed over the cutting to create a sort of mini greenhouse. Place the cutting in filtered sunlight. Keep the cutting moist, never letting it dry out.

Re-pot the olive cutting after 10 to 12 weeks. After six to eight weeks the cutting should begin to form roots and at 10 to 12 you may even be able to see new growth on the cutting. Fertilise with a dilute fertiliser after repotting to encourage growth.