Shady Lady planted in ground in Toronto, Ontario, Canada by Promise Supply

You're lucky if you have a Shady Lady Black Olive Tree in your home or office! They are one of the most unique and stylish indoor plants out there. That said, they can be tricky to take care of, so here are some tips on how to keep your Shady Lady Black Olive Tree healthy and happy in Canada.


About The Shady Lady Black Olive Tree

The Shady Lady, also called Bucida buceras, is the statement tree to have these days. The huge Black Olive Tree is usually found in gardens and backyards, where it can grow up to 30 feet tall. However, shortened versions of the tree are 10 to 20 feet tall and make for an interesting houseplant that doesn't just sit on a bookshelf.

Many people think of them as big bonsais because of their dramatic and poetic shape. This gives it that wabi-sabi design that many people are looking.

The Shady Lady is not really an Olive Tree. It is in a different genus (scientific classification), and it does not produce a fruit that we would eat.

The Shady Lady's scientific name is Terminalia buceras in the US, but it is often also referred to as Bucida buceras in other places.

Terminalia buceras is known by a variety of names in English, including bullet tree, Black Olive tree, gregorywood (or gregory wood), Antigua whitewood, and oxhorn bucida.

These plants have been popular for landscaping for a very long time because they can tolerate a lot of environmental challenges like salt, high humidity, and imperfect soils.

Over time they became popular with interiorscapes plants for office buildings and larger commercial projects, but most recently they have become one of the most in-demand plants from interior designers around the world.

Are you in acquiring a shady lady for your home, office or business?

What climate do Shady Lady Trees come from?

Shady lady growing large and outdoors in its native climate

It is commonly found in coastal swamps and wet inland forests in low elevations. You can often find them in South, Central and North America, from Columbia to Southern Mexico and Florida.

Some of the countries and regions where it grows include Columbia, Panama, Costa Rica, Venezuelan Antilles, Nicaragua, Windward Islands, Southwest Caribbean, Honduras, Guatemala, Mexico (Southeast, Southwest, Gulf, Central), Trinidad and Tobago.

In their natural climate, they can reach heights of over 50 feet.

How to Care for The Shady Lady Tree in Canada and Cold Climates

TL/DR: Give it as much sunlight as you can. South, West, and East facing windows should all work. Be careful when placing it not in a window or in a north-facing window. Don't let the plant dry out completely ever. They prefer high humidity but won't overreact to imperfect humidity levels. Expect to have to prune it in order to maintain the shape and size you want inside as these plants want to get really big really slowly.

Detailed Care for The Shady Lady Trees Indoors in Canada and Cold Climates


Light Requirements: Full Sun to bright indirect sun

A lot of customers have assumed that the Shady Lady does not do well in direct sunlight, because of its name. However, the name actually refers to the plant's rich color, not its preferred climate. If you want to give your plant the best conditions indoors, give it as much sun as possible.

Outdoors, these plants grow in full sun or partial shade. Partial shade means that the plant will get some sun each day, but not all day. So you should place it in an area where it will get some direct sunlight each day.

Water Requirements: Keep your Shady Lady Black Olive Tree evenly moist, but never soggy

When watering your Shady Lady, make sure to fully saturate the soil until water drains through. Keep in mind that if the plant is very dry, water may drain through before fully saturating the soil. One of the best ways to ensure that you have proper water for your plant is to feel how heavy it is after you water it.

As your plants grow, they will need more water. The pot will feel heavier when it is full of water. Keep watering the plants until the pot feels heavy. When the plants have grown bigger, you will need to repot them into a bigger pot.

Humidity requirements: Prefers high humidity and can handle low humidity but keep it away from vents.

Shady Lady trees are native to tropical climates and prefer humid conditions. If your home is on the drier side you can:

  • Put an essential oil diffuser or humidifier close to it.
  • Mist your Shady Lady Black Olive Tree regularly
  • Set it on a pebble tray filled with water

Soil Requirements: Fast draining sandy mix, native to clay-filled soils.

Fertilizing Requirements: Requires a balanced fertilizer to grow well. Any fertilizer with a 1:1:1 ratio will work.

Just like other plants, your shady lady plant needs certain nutrients to grow. We recommend using an organic fertilizer if you want. Gaia greens 4:4:4 or Bios nutrients would be great places to start. You can also experiment with natural liquid fertilizers for a little extra boost.

Repotting Suggestions: Repot the plant as soon as you see roots sticking out of the bottom or if it is becoming too top-heavy.

Go up no more than a few inches at a time.

Steps to repotting a Shady Lady:

  1. Select a pot with drainage - we recommend terracotta, but anything with a drainage hole or self-watering membrane should work.
  2. Fill 25% of the pot with a well-draining soil mix. You will likely want to add some type of amendments to improve drainage like perlite, pumice, and/or bark.
  3. To get your tree out of its old pot, hold the base of the trunk and pull. If the roots are stuck, use a spade to separate them from the pot's edge.
  4. Loosen the soil around the plant and its roots. Let the soil from the old pot fall into the new pot. This will help the plant get used to its new surroundings.
  5. Put the plant in the new pot and add soil around the top and sides of the rootball.
  6. Water the plant to make sure that the roots are covered once the soil settles.


Managing Pests: Use insecticidal soap on leaves; expect occasional fungus gnats.

Frequently Asked Questions:

How fast will the Shady Lady grow indoors?

The Shady Lady isn't likely to grow quickly indoors, seeing as it grows slowly outdoors. You will want to control its growth as this plant can become large and unruly without general pruning and upkeep.

If you cut back the plant in some places, it will encourage the plant to grow more in the places you want it to.

Your plant will grow best if you give it light, water it correctly, and fertilize it in the spring and summer. If you don't do these things, your plant won't grow as well or improve over time.

My Shady Lady is Losing Leaves! What should I do?

When you first bring a Shady Lady into your house, you can expect her to drop some leaves. This is normal, and the plant will continue to shed leaves and grow back several times over the years.

However, you also need to check whether the leaves are dropping at the right time. To do this, look at two factors.

If the plant is near a vent, this might make the air very dry and cause leaves to drop. You can increase the humidity by finding a way to cover the vent or by using a humidifier.

Step 1: Examine where the leaves are dropping from

In many cases, you will find that the leaves that are dropping may be getting blocked out from the sun by other branches. This is normal. Pay attention to what is happening with the new growth to determine if your new growth has any damage.

Once these plants get to their forever home, they won't have to deal with some of the shocks of being moved around the continent.

When you first get the plant, some of the smaller branches and twigs might have been broken in transport. Prune these branches so that you won't lose leaves from improper care or placement.

Step 2: Check for any signs of pest.

When looking closely at the leaves your plant has dropped, keep on a look out for any of the following red flags:

  • Broken leaves that look like insects have been snaking on them
  • Powdery white substances on the leaves
  • Tiny black dots on the leaves

If you see any of the above, you likely have a pest problem and can fix it by wiping the leaves with insecticidal soap.

Step 3: Care for your plant consistently and focus on new growth.

People think in hours. But plants live in days and weeks. That means that if you water a plant for five days and give it food once every ten days, it will take a few weeks for the plant to adjust and start growing. Instead of looking at older leaves for signs of problems, try to maintain a consistent care program for several

If your plant has leaves that are discoloured, it might mean that you are watering it too much or too little. If the plant isn't growing new leaves, you might need to fertilize it, give it more light, or water it more often.

Will my Shady Lady Black Olive produce olives that I can eat?

No, it will not, it's not technically an Olive tree.

Should I put The Shady Lady outdoors in the Summer? Should I bring it in at night?

We don't recommend moving The Shady Lady tree outside in the summer and back in the winter. This plant likes to acclimate to its location and will only drop more leaves more regularly when you switch from outside to the inside of the light requirements are drastically different.

Have a question we didn't answer?

If you feel like your plant isn't growing, reach out to us for help @promisesupplyca

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