Botanical Name: Osmanthus fragrans
Common Name: Tea Olive, Sweet Olive
Description: Even though it’s an introduced plant, the Tea Olive has been a Southern staple for many generations. She puts on her best floral display autumn through spring, with some blooming through the summer. Have you ever smelled a Tea Olive in bloom?? Oh my soul, it is intoxicating. It has a sweet, rose- and apricot-like fragrance that will waft throughout your entire garden. It’s a slow growing evergreen shrub/small tree that reaches about 6-8′ tall x 4-6′ wide. I’ve found that part sun to part shade is perfect for it. It’ll tolerate full, all day sun, but sometimes the leaves get crispy around the edges, especially in the summer. The flowers are white and the individual flowers are tiny, but they bloom in clusters. It’s not too particular about soil type, just as long as it’s well drained. The leaves and flowers are used in teas and have medicinal value. Drought tolerant once established.
Fun Fact: The generic name Osmanthus comes from the Greek osma, meaning fragrant, and anthos, meaning flower. Osmanthus fragrans certainly lives up to this name, having exquisitely scented flowers. It has been cultivated in China for about 2,500 years, and is still of importance there today, the flowers being widely used to flavour tea, wine and sweets, as well as an ingredient in herbal medicine. The city of Guilin (meaning ‘forest of sweet osmanthus’) is named after the numerous Osmanthus trees there. It is a popular street tree throughout the warmer parts of China, filling the air with scent on warm autumn evenings. ~Kew Royal Botanical Gardens~
This plant in a 3-gallon container is 2-3′ tall x 1-2′ wide.
This plant in a 7-gallon container 3-5′ tall x 2-3′ wide.
Hardiness Zones 8 to 10
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