Russian Olive, a nice shrub

Russian olive trees are beautiful shrubs, and their name comes from their native region – Southern Russia – and their resemblance to olive trees around the Mediterranean.

Russian olive facts

Name – Elaeagnus angustifolia
Family – Elaeagnaceae
Type – shrub

– 6 to 13 feet (2 to 4 meters)
Exposure – full sun, part sun
Soil – ordinary

– deciduous
Flowering – May to June
Fruit formation – August to October

Regulation – United States, Canada

Ideal for hedges and very nice as standalones, these shrubs are easy to care for and very ornamental. Note, however, that Russian olive  is considered an invasive species in some areas and growing it is subject to regulatory limitations.

Planting Russian olive trees

Although best planted in fall, Russian olive trees cope perfectly with being planted all year round if they were purchased potted.

If you plant your Russian olive trees during winter or during summer, avoid frost and freezing and heat waves, respectively.

To make a hedge, space trunks around 3 feet (1 meter) apart.

Pruning a Russian olive tree

To increase the number of branches and make your shrubs or hedges more opaque, you can prune the shrubs lightly over the first few years, cutting back about ⅓ of the previous year’s growth.

Russian olive can be pruned at the beginning of spring or in fall.

These shrubs grow back after all sorts of pruning, even if these were drastic.

They can thus be given different shapes, such as a big ball or other, without hindering their development.

  • Russian olive trees grow sharp thorns or spikes, so wear gloves and thick clothing.
  • Follow our advice on pruning shrubs.

Learn more about Russian olive

beautiful close-up of two white Russian olive tree flowersBeing more hardy than classical olive trees and very beautiful with their silver-gold hues, Russian olive trees are making a comeback among the favorite plants in our gardens.

Russian olive trees are also excellent shade trees and are perfect to set up wild hedges.

In spring, their discrete and delicate blooming will spread a fragrant bee-pleasing odor, and in fall yellow and silver-colored fruits attract birds with their fruits which are edible even for us.

A cousin of the Russian olive is the American silverberry, Elaeagnus commutata. It’s native to North America, unlike Russian olive.

Smart tip about Russian olive trees

Elaeagnus don’t do well in very wet ground.

Avoid waterlogged soil and stagnant water or your plant will dwindle away.

Read also on shrubs

Other interesting hedge shrubs: strawberry trees, wild privets, weigelas, cypresses, camellias, photinias, flowering currants…

Credits for images shared to Nature & Garden (all edits by Gaspard Lorthiois):
Russian olive flowers shared by KitKestrel under © CC0