Grow an olive tree indoors for beauty, not fruit

Credit: Walter Reeves

Credit: Walter Reeves

Q: I am interested in getting an olive tree to grow indoors. I have 10-foot ceilings and a very bright space with extremely large windows and eastern exposure. I think olive trees are beautiful and I like indoor plants. I’m not concerned about whether or not the tree would bear fruit. Beverly Miller, email

A: Much to my surprise, I found that olive trees can be grown indoors and you have the perfect space in which to do it! Bright light is key to their success. Arbequina and Picholine are olive varieties suitable for indoor growing. Plant in a large container filled with fast-draining material, like cactus soil. Little fertilizer is needed; water when your finger, pushed an inch into the soil, comes back dry. You’re not likely to harvest any fruit, but the attractive leaves and growth habit make an olive tree a great indoor addition.

Q: I’m having a problem with mice and rats coming up to my second-floor deck and eating all my plants. Any suggestions? Kate Hagen, email

A: I think a few wooden snap traps are your best option. Get at least two rat-sized and two mouse-sized traps. The best bait I have ever used is cinnamon-spice instant oatmeal. Mix a couple of tablespoons of cereal with just enough warm water to make it sticky and gummy. Use your fingers to press some of the glutinous stuff onto each trap trigger. Set them aside for the night to dry. Place each trap at the bottom of a wall or other access point near your plants. It’s important to put the traps near a wall because that’s where rodents are most likely to run. Clean the traps quickly. You should be rodent-free in a week or so.

Q: I have Carolina cherry laurel sprouting up all over my property. It is growing wherever there is open space without shade. Should I keep or kill? Dianne Wisner, email

A: Get rid of it. If you don’t control it, you’ll soon have more than you want. I have a tool called a grass whip that would be perfect for this job. It’s just a wooden handle with a single sharp blade on the end. Walk around your property with your coffee in one hand and a whip in the other. Small Carolina cherry laurel seedlings are tender at the base. One flick with your whip and you’ll slice and kill them easily. If you want to keep a couple of these native trees for your landscape, use a round-point shovel to scoop one up and move it around.

Email Walter at Listen to his occasional garden comments on “Green and Growing with Ashley Frasca” Saturday mornings on 95.5 WSB. Visit his website,, or join his Facebook page at for his latest tips.