As soon as temperatures drop to 27℉ (-3℃) young olive tree branches and leaves begin to experience damage. Once temperatures drop down to 20℉ (-7℃), your entire olive tree is threatened. Although some claim that olive trees can survive even colder temperatures, it’s best to protect olive trees when temperatures dip below freezing. Take steps to protect ground-planted olive trees with fleece and bring potted olive trees indoors.
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Can Olive Trees Handle Freezing Temperatures?
Although olive trees can handle temperatures that dip below the freezing point, they are easily damaged by this weather. Additionally, olive trees can survive the occasional weather as low as 20℉ (-7℃), but prolonged exposure to cold temperatures will kill olive trees. More than 3–5 days of freezing weather can cause severe damage to your olive tree.
- Olive trees can survive freezing temperatures that do not last for more than a few days.
- Prolonged cold can be deadly to olive trees.
- Ice, snow, and frost increase the chance that cold weather will harm olive trees.
Olive trees survive cold best when it is accompanied by dry weather. The cold tolerance of olive trees plummets when conditions are wet. Frost, ice, and snow are very damaging to olive trees. They perform best in regions with mild, relatively dry winters.
What Happens if an Olive Tree Freezes?
An olive tree that is exposed to freezing temperatures may begin to drop leaves. Like citrus trees and pines, olive trees are evergreen trees. If a tree begins dropping leaves suddenly, this is a sign of damage. Freezing temperatures may also kill the youngest branches and new shoots.
- 27 to 20℉ (-3 to -7℃): Leaves and small branches begin dying.
- 19 to 15℉ (-7 to -9℃): Large branches begin dying.
- 10℉ (-12℃) and below: The whole tree may die.
As temperatures dip down below 15℉ (-9℃) large sections of the tree are at risk of damage. Temperatures that go as low as 10℉ (-12℃) can kill olive trees, including mature trees. All varieties of olive trees are susceptible to this damage because they are adapted for Mediterranean environments.
Can You Leave an Olive Tree Outside in Winter?
If you live in a region where winter temperatures rarely dip below freezing, you can leave your olive tree outside in winter. A potted olive tree can survive temperatures consistently above 27℉ (-3℃) with no trouble. A few nighttime frosts are not likely to do any damage.
- If your region experiences rare freezes, you can leave your olive tree outside.
- In cold regions that receive snow, bring your olive trees inside during the winter.
- Watch your local weather patterns—an abnormal cold snap may require you to bring your olive tree indoors.
If your region regularly experiences freezes, icy conditions, or snow, plan to bring any potted olive trees indoors. Similarly, if your typically mild region is hit by a particularly hard winter, move potted olives indoors. It’s better to protect your tree in winter than take a risk that may kill a young tree.
Do Olive Trees Need Protection From Frost?
Most varieties of olive trees benefit from protection from frost. This is especially true of young olive trees. A tree that is less than 3 years old can be seriously damaged by a hard frost. If you see that nighttime temperatures will dip below freezing, it’s time to consider protecting your trees.
- Young olive trees (younger than 3 years) should be protected from frost.
- Mature olive trees will not be damaged by nighttime frost as long as it is not accompanied by extreme cold.
- Established olive trees can survive nighttime frosts followed by above-freezing days.
A mature olive tree is not likely to be damaged by frost as long as temperatures do not go below 27℉ (-3℃). Your established olive trees can handle a few nights of frost. They’ll typically handle this very well as long as daytime temperatures are well above freezing.
How Do You Protect an Olive Tree From the Cold?
Protect ground trees from cold temperatures by wrapping them in horticultural fleece. Use a roll of high-quality fleece to wrap the olive tree, including the branches and leaves. Loosely wrap the tree to ensure you do not damage the branches. Then, secure the fleece so it does not blow off. This fleece will retain daytime warmth and protect your olives from windy, cold nights.
- Use this high-quality horticultural fleece to protect olive trees planted in the ground.
- Bring potted olive trees indoors in cold weather.
- If you’re unable to bring potted trees indoors, use fleece to protect the trees in winter.
If you have potted olive trees, it’s best to bring them indoors when cold weather threatens. If you can’t bring the trees into your home, consider bringing them into a garage or shed at night, to protect them from wind, frost, and ice. If this isn’t an option, wrap your potted trees in horticultural fleece.
- Lengthen your harvest times.
- Can be reused year after year.
- Ideal for protecting vegetation and plants from cold and freezing temperatures.
What Temperature Kills Olive Trees?
When planning to protect your olive trees, keep the following rules in mind:
- 27℉ (-3℃): Temperature where trees can be damaged. Young trees are at greater risk.
- 20℉ (-7℃): Conditions are damaging to mature olive trees. Young trees can be killed.
- 10℉ (-12℃): The cold is deadly to all olive trees.
Because olive trees are evergreens that are adapted to temperate climates, take care when planting. Only plant an olive tree in the ground in a region with mild winters. If you wish to grow olive trees in a cold environment, consider a greenhouse. Otherwise, plant dwarf varieties in pots and bring them indoors during cold periods.