The Q&A Archives: Russian Olive

Question: I have some 2 year old Russian Olive trees that need to be transplanted. They are about 2 feet tall, Is it better to move them in the fall as the leaves are changing, or wait until spring before moving them?

Answer: Elaeagnus angustifolia, or Russian Olive, is a fast growing small tree. It has attractive silver colored long narrow leaves that contrast nicely with the dark bark color. The plant form is quite irregular and becomes very picturesque. The form adds interest to the landscape, especially in winter. Flowers are quite inconspicuous but very fragrant. The fleshy fruit is 1/3 to 1/2" in length and not very noticeable as it blends into the foliage.

Russian olive requires a well drained soil in full sun, and some regular pruning to remove dead branches and to remove suckers to maintain the interesting plant form. It's very heat and drought tolerant and puts up with deicing salt and alkaline soil.

Your plants can be transplanted anytime in late fall, as long as the ground isn't frozen. Shrubs and trees benefit from being transplanted in the cooler months of the year when natural rainfall can help them become established in their new homes.

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