Family: Oleaceae
type : Evergreen, Shrubs
sun exposure : Full Sun, Partial Shade
water : Drought Tolerant, Moderate Water, Regular Water
Plant Details

This versatile group of easy-to-grow, broad-leafed evergreens combines handsome foliage with fragrantthough inconspicuousflowers (white, in most cases). Most are large shrubs that can eventually reach the size of a small tree. Use them as tall screens, hedges, or foundation plantings. They tolerate many soils (including heavy clay), accept heavy pruning, and do well with little moisture or regular garden watering. Some- what resistant to damage by browsing deer.


osmanthus americanus

  • Zones US, MS, LS, CS; USDA 6-9.
  • Native to Mexico, and from North Carolina to Florida and Mississippi.
  • Grows rather slowly to 15 25 feet tall and 1520 feet wide, though it may eventually become much larger.
  • Neat, upright, oval form.
  • Handsome, leathery, shiny olive-green foliage: smooth-margined leaves to 7 inches long, 212 inches wide.
  • Creamy flowers in spring; dark blue, 12 inches fruit in early fall.
  • Very cold hardy.
  • Tolerates wet soil.

osmanthus xburkwoodii

  • Zones US, MS, LS; USDA 6-8.
  • Hybrid between Osmanthus delavayi and Osmanthus decorus.
  • Slow growing to 610 feet tall, 812 feet wide.
  • Densely clothed in 1- to 2 inches., glossy, bright green, tooth-edged leaves.
  • Spring bloom.
  • Useful as a hedge.

delavay osmanthus

osmanthus delavayi

  • Zones MS, LS, CS; USDA 7-9.
  • From China.
  • Slow-growing, graceful plant with arching branches; reaches 46 feet tall, 68 feet wide.
  • Dark green, oval, tooth-edged leaves to 1 inches long.
  • Blooms profusely in spring, bearing clusters of four to eight blossoms (blooms are 12 inches widethe largest of any osmanthus).
  • Attractive all year.
  • Good choice for foundation plantings, massing.
  • Handsome on retaining walls where branches can hang down.
  • Does best in partial shade.

fortune's osmanthus

osmanthus xfortunei

  • Zones MS, LS, CS; USDA 7-9.
  • Hybrid between Osmanthus heterophyllus and Osmanthus fragrans.
  • Slow, dense growth to an eventual 1520 feet tall, 68 feet wide; usually seen at about 6 feet tall.
  • Oval, 4 inches-long leaves resemble those of holly (Ilex).
  • Extremely fragrant flowers in autumn.
  • Selection 'San Jose' bears flowers ranging in color from cream to orange.
  • Fruitlandii is a slightly more cold hardy, compact form with cream-colored flowers.

sweet olive, tea olive

osmanthus fragrans

  • Zones LS, CS, TS; USDA 8-11.
  • Native to China, Japan, Himalayas.
  • Long a favorite of Southern gardeners.
  • Broad, dense, compact.
  • Grows at a moderate rate to 15ft.
  • tall, 810 feet wide (though older plants may reach 30 feet tall, 1215 feet wide).
  • Oval, glossy, medium green leaves to 4 inches long, toothed or smooth edged.
  • Flowers are powerfully fragrant, with a scent like that of ripe apricots.
  • Bloom is heaviest in spring, but plants flower sporadically throughout year.
  • Can be pruned to upright growth where space is limited; can be trained as a small tree, hedge, screen, background, espalier, or container plant.
  • Pinch out growing tips of young plants to induce bushiness.
  • Give afternoon shade.
  • Butter Yellow produces lots of butter-yellow flowers.
  • Fudingzhu is an outstanding form, more cold hardy and not as large as the species, and it blooms for a much longer time with large, showy clusters of blooms.
  • Orange Supreme is a well-shaped plant with bright orange blossoms.
  • Osmanthus f.
  • aurantiacus has narrower, less glossy leaves than the species; its crop of wonder-fully fragrant orange flowers is concentrated in early fall.

holly osmanthus

osmanthus heterophyllus

  • Zones US, MS, LS, CS; USDA 6-9.
  • From Japan.
  • Grows to 810 feet (possibly 20 feet.) tall and slightly wider, with 212 inches., spiny-edged, glossy, green leaves.
  • Resembles English holly (Ilex aquifolium), but leaves are opposite one another on stems rather than alternate.
  • Fragrant white flowers in late fall and winter are followed by berrylike, blue-black fruit.
  • Useful as hedge.


  • Erect growth to 312 feet tall, 5 feet wide.
  • New leaves have pinkish orange markings; in mature foliage, the variegations are creamy yellow (on a deep green background).
  • Few flowers.


  • Dense grower to 810 feet tall and 10 feet wide (may eventually reach 20 feet high), with deep green, very glossy foliage.
  • More cold hardy than the species.
  • Probably the most popular selection.


  • Same growth habit as species.
  • Leaves are dark purple when new, maturing to purple-toned deep green.


  • Slow growing to 5 feet tall and wide.
  • Small, roundish leaves are lightly spined.


  • Slow growing to an eventual 810 feet tall and wide, with densely set leaves edged in creamy white.
  • Useful for lighting up shady areas.
  • A bit less cold tolerant than the species.

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