How Much Sun Do Olive Trees Need?

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olive tree in the sun, illustration

If you want to plant olive trees in your yard, you need to ensure that they have enough sunlight so they can grow into healthy plants that will yield plenty of fruit. In this post, I’ll show you how much sun olive trees exactly need for ideal growth.

Key Takeaways:

  • Olive trees need at least 2100 hours of sun per year.
  • On average, that’s at least 6 hours of sunlight every day that olive trees should receive.
  • In the USA, olive trees grow best in 8-11 USDA zones.

Olive Trees Need Plenty of Sunlight

No doubt, olive trees just love the sun. Ever since, olive trees only naturally grow in warmer climates with plenty of sunny days. They won’t be able to grow appropriately in colder climates with too many cloudy days and colder winters.

For healthy growth, olive trees require at least 2100 hours of sunlight throughout the year. The more sun, the better. Some of the best olive oils are made in areas with +2500 hours of sun each year.

It would be best if olive trees were exposed to sunlight every day for at least 6 hours if we look daily. That’ll ensure enough sun for healthy and rapid growth.

Of course, no place on Earth can get 6 hours of sun every day; that’s the average. Some days olive trees will get 12 hours of sun, while on some other days, it’ll be cloudy, and they won’t get any.

In the USA, olive trees mostly grow in zones 8-11. Some varieties can grow in 7th zones too. So, before planting olive trees, it’s also good to check the zones on the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map (check it here). Zones 8 and above will have enough sun for healthy olive tree growth.

What Happens If There’s Not Enough Sun

If there’s not enough sun, olive trees won’t grow properly, and if they even develop into giant trees, their life will be much shorter. Mostly, olive trees won’t even succeed in areas with too little sun.

For instance, let’s say that olive trees still grow, and there’s not enough sun; here’s what happens:

  • Olive trees will grow in height, trying to acquire more sun every day. By forcing them to grow in height, their roots, twigs, and branches will develop very slowly since all the minerals are going into growing the canopy. Also, the canopy won’t grow in width, which means that there will be fewer branches.
  • Tall olive trees with a poor root system and thin trunk aren’t resistant to weather elements, especially winter weather elements.
  • Without enough sun, olive trees won’t yield as much fruit as possible, and the fruits won’t be full of oils, vitamins, and minerals.

As you can see, it’s completely unhealthy to grow olive trees in areas without enough sunlight. Even if the tree withstands the lack of sun at first, it won’t develop properly, and the most important thing, it won’t produce enough fruits, if any.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Do olive trees need full sun?

    Olive trees don’t require a full sun every day, but usually, the more sun, the better. As long as the temperatures aren’t too high and they get enough water, they’ll grow and produce healthy fruits full of oil and vitamins.

  • Can olive trees grow in the shade?

    Olive trees can’t be grown in a completely shade environment, and they need as much sunlight as possible. They’ll tolerate a moderate shade but won’t grow adequately, and their life will be short.

  • Do olive trees grow in low-light conditions?

    Olive trees love and need enough daylight, and they won’t grow properly in low-light conditions. Putting them next to a window is the best option if you’re growing them inside.

  • Can I keep an olive tree indoors?

    The best place to keep olive trees is the ground. However, you can keep them inside as long as you have a large enough pot and a spot next to the window so that they can get enough sunlight every day.


olive tree in direct sunlight

Throughout history, olive trees have only grown in sunny areas, with plenty of sunlight each day. Before planting olive trees, you should make sure that you live in an area with suitable climate and weather conditions.

So, if you live in an area with minimal sun throughout the year, maybe you should think about planting some other trees, and it’ll save both your money and your time.

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