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Move Over Fiddle Leaf Figs, Black Olive Trees Are the 'It' Plant of 2021

The fiddle leaf tree is without a doubt the most iconic houseplant. You’ve seen it splashed across Pinterest, everywhere on your Instagram feed and you probably own one yourself. But that’s all about to change as a new tree is starting to gain popularity: the Black Olive tree, AKA the Shady Lady – or for the botanists among us, Bucida buceras. 

Here’s everything you need to know about this trendy indoor houseplant.

What is a Black Olive or Shady Lady tree?

The Shady Lady tree, commonly known as the Black Olive tree, is native to the Caribbean and Central and South America. It’s considered one of the most charming South Florida trees.

The leaves are leathery, blush-green in colour, 5 to 10 centimetres in length, and the tree features small yellow flowers while blooming. Despite what the name implies, the tree isn’t actually an olive tree and doesn’t produce the black olive fruit. 

The tree differs in size according to whether you opt for an outdoor or indoor type. While the outside variety can grow as tall as 15 metres in height, the indoor version is much smaller. In saying that, it can still grow quite large so those living in apartments or small spaces should look elsewhere.

The Black Olive tree is different to the standard Olive tree you would've seen floating around on your Pinterest board - the leaves are a more vibrant green, they have more layers of branches and they're often larger in size.

Interior stylists are obsessed with them for their bonsai-like look, and especially fit in well in a Wabi-sabi or Japandi styled home. 

Interior designer and founder of EyeSwoon Athena Calderone, has one tucked in a corner near the window, and comfortably fitted into a planter wrapped with a cream fabric. 


Public311 Design founders Natashia and Shauna, have one placed in a sun-drenched room. 


Interior designer and founder of Shoppe Amber Interiors Amber Lewis, has positioned hers in direct sunlight, fit in a natural woven planter. 


How to care for a Shady Lady tree indoors

It’s relatively easy to care for, too, but it’s important you follow these four steps to ensure your tree can thrive:

1. Sun, sun and sun!

The plant thrives in sun, but it also grows well in areas featuring partial sun or shade so make sure you place your tree near a window or in a light-filled room. If you live in a colder climate or in a house that doesn’t receive much sunlight, your Shady lady might not thrive. 

2. Quality soil

It adapts to different kinds of terrain but it grows best in rich soil that’s full of nutrients, which it would otherwise get if it was growing outdoors. The tree also needs to be watered once a week until the soil is saturated.  

3. Regularly trim the branches

It will get very top-heavy as it grows and the branches will start to point downwards, signalling it’s time for a trim. 

4. Patience is key

The branches will appear scraggly when young, but don’t stress - it will eventually balance out. With proper care, you’ll soon be looking at a giant bonsai-looking tree with layered tiers of horizontal branches. 

Liked this? Here is our complete guide to the most popular indoor plants. 

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