Osmanthus fragrans is an evergreen species of flowering shrubs or small trees in the Oleaceae family. In cultivation, you can find this buddy by various common names, such as the Fragrant tea olive, Sweet osmanthus, Fragrant olive, Tea olive, or sweet olive.
Osmanthus fragrans a.k.a. the Fragrant tea olive is one of those ornamental companions that can bring a an exotic and oriental vibe to your garden without too much effort.
If you are looking for a low-maintenance ornamental, Osmanthus fragrant is a perfect choice! Besides its obvious spectacular look, this plant is super easy-going. It will thrive as long as you can simulate its native habitat in your garden or in your home, which is much easier than it sounds.
Many gardeners worldwide appreciate the fragrant tea olive for its ornamental qualities, that can bring joy to any dull corner. It is a popular garden plant that makes for an excellent statement piece for hedges, walls, specimen plantings, screens, Japanese gardens, woodland gardens, coastal gardens, cottage gardens, Mediterranean gardens, and also in containers.
If you want a fabulous landscape in your garden, do not hesitate to plant the Fragrant tea olive near other eye-catching species with similar demands.
If you want to learn more about growing and caring for this attractive plant, keep reading!
About Fragrant Tea Olive
- The fragrant tea olive comes from several regions of Asia, ranging from the Himalayas through South China, southern Japan, Taiwan, and Southeast Asia. This plant grows naturally in mountaineous regions and forests at high elevations of 3937 to 9843 feet (1200 to 3000 m).
- The flowers of the fragrant tea olive are very fragrant and their perfume resembles apricots. Because of this, in some regions of North India, native folks use them as an insect repellent to protect their clothes.
- Osmanthus fragrans plays an important part in traditional Chinese medicine. Many use this plant to prepare herbal tea, which is a wonderful treatment against irregular menstruation. The extracts of dried blossoms have neuroprotective, antioxidative, and free-radical scavenging properties.
- In Chinese mythology, a story presents Wu Gang who endlessly cuts down a self-healing Fragrant tea olive that grows on the moon. Some versions of this story held that Wu Gang had to cut the plant down because its luxuriant growth overshadowed the moon itself.
- The fragrant tea olive enjoys cultural significance in numerous regions of Asia. It is the city flower in several cities in China, the city tree of some Japanese cities, and the town tree of Yoshitomi, Fukuoka.
- Osmanthus fragrans is closely associated with the Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival due to its blooming period which intersects with this season. Likewise, Chinese people have the popular “reunion wine”, when they drink with their families, and osmanthus wine is usually a traditional choice.
- In Chinese cuisine, people use the flowers of the Fragrant tea olive to brew infusions that can be combined with black or green tea leaves and obtain a delicious beverage usually referred to as osmanthus tea.
- This plant can be used as an ingredient for making various traditional Chinese desserts like osmanthus tangyuan. The blooms of Osmanthus fragrant are a common ingredient in many other desserts and dishes. These include osmanthus-scented jam, dumplings, osmanthus cakes, osmanthus liquor, soups, etc.
- The fragrant tea olive has other forms, varieties, and even hybrids to choose from. Some of these are O. fragrans f. aurantiacus, O. fragrans f. thunbergii, O. fragrans f. semperflorens, ‘Apricot Gold’, ‘Butter Yellow’, ‘Conger Yellow’, ‘Fudingzhu’, ‘Orange Supreme’, and O. × fortunei (cross of O. fragrans and O. heterophyllus).
- Osmanthus fragrans is not toxic to either animals or humans if touched or ingested. You can safely grow this versatile plant wherever you want even if you have curious kids or pets around.
- The perfect companion plants for it include Abelia, Boxwood, Daylily, Heavenly Bamboo, Petunias, Gardenias, Barberry, Rhododendron, Viburnum, and Loropetalum.
Fragrant Tea Olive Features: An Overview
- The Fragrant tea olive belongs to the Osmanthus genus which comprises about 30 species of flowering plants. It shares this genus with other edgy plants like O. armatus, O. delavayi, O. heterophyllus, O. suavis, or O. yunnanensis.
- Osmanthus fragrans is a perennial shrub or small tree. Depending on the cultivar, the plant can grow between 8 and 40 feet (2.4 to 12.2 m) in height and about 10 to 15 feet (3-4.6 m) in width.
- Like most members of the Osmanthus family of plants, the fragrant tea olive tends to have a long life span. When it is not affected by severe diseases, the Osmanthus shrub can live for decades. These plants are not as long-lasting as the ancient olive trees described in the bible, but they will keep you company for a very long time, and might even outlive you.
- Osmanthus fragrans has a dense, upright, oval to columnar overall growth habit. It develops at a relatively slow pace. In cultivation, its height is much smaller than in its natural habitat.
- Its foliage consists of numerous leathery, oval, and dark green leaves that have entire or toothed edges. The leaves can reach from 2.8 to 5.9 inches (7-15 cm) in length and 1 to 2 inches (2.5-5 cm) in diameter.
- The fragrant tea olive can bloom in spring and autumn, with the most profuse blooming in the fall. During these seasons, the plant produces clusters that contain lots of tiny, 4-lobed blossoms.
- Osmanthus shrubs produce flowers in a wide variety of colours, such as white, orange, yellow, pale yellow, or orange-yellow. They feature a strong, apricot-like fragrance.
- If you want to enjoy as many beautiful blooms as possible, there are certain things that you can do to encourage this plant to flower. A light spring feeding with a slow-release fertilizer can encourage blooming. Protecting your Osmanthus from frost is another way to ensure that it will bloom nicely. And last but not least, make sure you only prune it after the flowering period is over and before spring growth starts to happen. If you prune it during its growth period, you risk clipping off the flower buds.
- Once the flowering period has come to an end, the Fragrant tea olive may bear fruits, commonly referred to as drupes, that are purple-black of 0.4 to 0.6 inches (10-15 mm) long. Each fruit has a single hard-shelled seed and reaches maturity about six months after blooming.
- The fruits of the Osmanthus tree are considered edible, but they aren’t very easy to eat as they are quite small and full of seeds. They also have a bitter taste when they are not fully ripe, and the whole ripening process can take up to six months, so these fruits are rarely harvested for food. The flowers of the Osmanthus are more often used in the kitchen and you can add them to jams and teas to enhance the flavour.
Growing Fragrant Tea Olive
If you are looking for a small tree or a shrub that is easy to grow, the fragrant tea olive is a great option. If you are not the owner of one of these amazing ornamentals and you wish to bring some good vibes to your outdoor area, why not try your hand at growing a fragrant olive tree.
This plant is perfect for novice gardeners as it has very few basic demands and you will manage to satisfy them all even if you are not that experienced with gardening.
When it comes to sunlight exposure, you don’t have to worry that your Fragrant tea olive could receive too much. This low-demanding plant will have the time of its life if you find a spot for it where it can benefit from the strong and generous light of our sun.
The only exception that puts sunlight on the black list would be if you live in a climate with very hot summer months. If this is the case for you, we recommend you plant your fragrant tea olive where it will experience some partial afternoon shade.
- Blossoms of the hardy tea Olive are visually inconsequential, but their impact can be significant
- The strong fragrance can be smelled from several hundred feet away. Tiny White flowers bloom in clusters along the stems
- Sweet Olive blooms during the cool season. Expect it to bloom in late fall and again in early spring.
- Mature Height ( 10-15 feet ) -- mature width ( 8-10 feet ) -- exposure ( sun to partial shade ) -- hardiness zones ( 7-9 )
- Ships in a Trade gallon Pot -- we can not guarantee flowers at time of purchase
- Live 3 gallon Tea Olive comes with easy to use plant food and bloom every Spring through summer months with southern sweet-tea fragrant flowers — the electrifying, natural aroma fills the entire landscape!
- This fragrant shrub features light-green foliage on thin, shrub-like branches — Tea Olive holds a compact, bush-like frame, complimentary when planted in multiples along walkways, in gardens, next to patios and pools, or at the front entrance of home or office buildings
- This plant loves the sun and would prefer a spot in the landscape that receives full sun exposure and partial shade exposure throughout the day — no pruning necessary to keep Tea Olive clean-cut and shapely
- Mature Height: 15-30 ft | mature width: 15-20 ft, with buoyant, light-green foliage reaching skyward
- Pale, yellow flowers will appear in spring & summer months, releasing a sweet-note fragrance similar to Southern Sweet Tea — this aroma is recognizably purifying and will compliment other Natural tones in the garden!
- Starter Plugs are grown in trays and therefore will be SHIPPED WITHOUT A POT !!
- The rarest form of tea olive found only in remote areas of china does exist. Recently brought to this country by a fellow nurseryman in south carolina.
- Flowers are dark orange to red in color and very fragrant. This plant does not seem to bloom when young.
- Mature Height ( 12 feet plus ) -- Mature Width ( 8 feet plus feet ) -- Exposure ( Full Sun to partial shade ) -- Hardiness Zones ( 7-10 )
- Listing is for ( 1 ) Starter Plant - FOR FLOWERING PLANTS, WE CAN NOT GUARANTEE BLOOMS AT ALL TIMES
Last update on 2023-07-31 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
The fragrant tea olive is relatively hardy in the USDA zones 8 to 11. This plant can withstand cold temperatures that drop to 10 °F (-12 °C), but only if the temperatures decrease gradually. In autumn, if the temperatures in your area drop too quickly, your fragrant tea olive may suffer and eventually die off with time.
You will have to grow this plant in a container and bring it inside or in a greenhouse to prevent this from happening. This is mandatory if the night temperatures in your region constantly drop below 40 °F (4.4 °C).
Before overthinking about the cold tolerance of this plant, you should know that it is the hardiest of all species from its genus. As long as you are growing your fragrant tea olive in the hardiness range mentioned above, you will not have to do anything more to overwinter it properly.
These intruders occur most often on those specimens that spend the winter months indoors. If you notice any pest presence on your fragrant tea olive, do not panic! Aphids can easily be washed off and you can use horticultural oil such as neem oil to get rid of scale insects.
When the plant experiences prolonged periods of drought, some fungal issues like leaf spot or botryosphaeria canker might occur.
Likewise, root rot is a common problem among plants that grow in poorly drained or soggy soils. Make sure you avoid these kinds of growing conditions because the effects of the fungal problems are mainly irreversible.
Aside from these common pests and diseases, osmanthus shrubs can sometimes lose their foliage unexpectedly. This happens more frequently with plants that are grown indoors, in containers, but it can happen with garden plants also.
The most common issues that can lead to leaf drop in Osmanthus fragrant include sudden and extreme changes in temperature, underwatering, insufficient lighting, and fungal infections.
Planting Fragrant Tea Olive
The Fragrant tea olive is not fussy at all in terms of growing medium. This friendly plant will appreciate almost any ordinary garden soil as long as it is of good quality. It also prefers an acidic to a neutral substrate that comes along with very nice drainage overall. Aim to plant your Fragrant tea olive in soil that features a pH ranging from 5.0 to 7.5.
For indoor growing or container gardens, it is best to look for a pot with drainage holes at the bottom in which to plant your Fragrant tea olive.
The ideal pots for this shrubby tree are usually heavy clay or ceramic ones. If you bring your plant indoors during the cold season, it would be great to plant it in a big container filled with standard peat-based potting soil.
The Fragrant tea olive is so easy-going and carefree that it can do well only with a single feeding once every year in spring. We suggest you feed your plant with a slow-release fertilizer designed for shrubs and trees. Moreover, you should wait for the warmth of spring to show up before applying fertilizers to this plant.
In case you have a Fragrant tea olive that travels in your house for the winter, however, it will warmly thank you if you fertilize it lightly immediately after you bring it inside in autumn.
There is no secret that this buddy right here tends to grow a bit too large, producing many branches that lose their grace or health with time. The greatest thing about the fragrant tea olive is that you can train it as a small tree, espalier, or shrub, making it look fantastic in hedges or maybe a dull corner.
If you wish to keep yours at a certain size, you can clip its tips or just prune it when the winter ends. Pruning is probably the best friend a plant owner can get, but try not to overdo it because it might prevent your Fragrant tea olive from flowering.
Another important thing to avoid when it comes to growing Osmanthus indoors, in containers, is keeping them near heat ducts. Also, it is not ideal to keep these plants indoors year-round, as they will benefit from spending the warm summer months outdoors, in a sunny location.
Watering Fragrant Tea Olive
There is nothing special or too demanding about the watering needs of the fragrant tea olive. Your plant will be more than happy if it receives weekly rainfalls, so you can forget about it if you live in a climate with this kind of weather.
If not, however, you should water your Fragrant tea olive regularly in its first year of growth, about once or twice a week. Once established, the plant becomes somewhat tolerant of drought.
Propagating Fragrant Tea Olive
If you want to propagate your Fragrant tea olive, we have good news – this is an easy process and you will have so much fun doing it.
Although many gardeners find propagating their plants exhausting sometimes, this is not the case with Osmanthus fragrans. You can propagate it by stem cuttings or seeds with minimal effort and you will have enough specimens even for your beloved family members or friends. Let’s get this through!
Propagating Osmanthus fragans through cuttings
Before taking cuttings of your fragrant tea olive, you can make things easier and create the propagation medium for them. Fill a container with a mix of equal parts of sand and potting mix and place it in a bright, indirect-lit spot outdoors.
After this, take cuttings of about 8 inches (20 cm) long from semi-hardwood stems with sharp and clean pruning shears. Once you have the cuttings, make sure you remove the bottom leaves and dip their cut ends in rooting hormone before planting them.
If you keep their soil constantly damp, the cuttings will have a strong root system after three or four months. When this happens, you can transplant them to their permanent location.
Starting Osmanthus fragrans from seeds
You can start new Fragrant tea olives from seed, but it may take several months through one year for germination to occur.
Firstly, you need to collect the seeds from the fruits. Secondly, fill a pot with a commercial seed-starter mix, then sow the seeds in the moist substrate. Move the container to a warm and humid environment and wait for the results patiently.
Known by many common names, the fragrant tea olive is an ornamental evergreen broadleaf shrub or small tree appreciated for its wonderful fragrance. Long grown as an attractive garden shrub or as a large indoor plant, the fragrant tea olive is a very popular plant, especially in warmer climates.
The fragrant tea olive is not just stunning but it also comes along with a low-maintenance habit that makes it a perfect companion for novice and neglectful gardeners. If you live in a warm climate, you can grow this attractive shrub in your garden, and if you don’t you can still enjoy its beautiful aromatic flowers by growing it indoors in containers.
Do you already have a fragrant tea olive in your plant family? If so, share your experience and thoughts about this great ornamental plant in the comments!