Easily grown in a loamy soil and tolerating infertile soils, it prefers a well-drained deep fertile soil. A drought resistant plant once established, it succeeds in dry soils. Requires a sunny position. Tolerates salty air. Plants are slow-growing and very long-lived.
The olive is very commonly cultivated in Mediterranean climates for its edible seed, there are many named varieties. Trees can produce a crop when they are 6 years old and continue producing a commercial yield for the next 50 years - many trees continue to give good yields for hundreds of years, even when their trunk is hollow. They succeed outdoors in the milder areas of Britain, though plants rarely produce fruit when grown in this country, preferring warm temperate regions with mild moist winters and hot dry summers. Some reports say that trees often fruit in south-western England. Generally, older trees are hardy to about -10°c. They require the protection of a south facing wall when grown in the London area. At least some cultivars are self-fertile. Some cultivars have been selected mainly for their fruits whilst others have been selected for their oil. 'Mission' is grown for its edible fruits. It is vigorous, prolific and very cold resistant. 'Moraiolo' is grown for its oil, it is very hardy and strong-growing. Flower production depends on a 12 - 15 week period of diurnally fluctuating temperatures with at least 2 months averaging below 10°c. Pruning can encourage non-fruiting water-shoots. Weighing down or arching the branches can encourage fruiting. The plants fruit best on wood that is one year old so any pruning should take this into account. An olive branch is a traditional symbol of peace, laurel leaves were used by the ancient Greeks to crown winners of the Olympic games.
Plants have male flowers and bisexual flowers.