Osmanthus fragrans f. DENTATUS

Osmanthus fragrans f.
Osmanthus fragrans f. DENTATUS
fragrant olive, sweet olive, tea olive
SIZE/TYPE medium-sized shrub
 taller shrub
LEAVES evergreen broadleaf
FLOWERS less showy but noticeable
BLOOMING TIME October - November
LOCATION full to partial sun
SOIL TYPE acidic (peaty)
SOIL MOISTURE REQUIREMENTS evenly moist (dislikes drought)
USDA zone (lowest) 6   (down to -23°C)
FOR ZONE 5+6 Code of winter protection zone 5+6
FOR ZONE 7 Code of winter protection zone 7
BELONGS TO CATEGORIES Evergreen broadleaf
Hedging plants
náhled fotonáhled fotonáhled foto
Osmanthus is a genus of only about 15-20 evergreen species and varieties, and a genus which I fell in love with the first time I saw a few plants of. Their leathery and sometimes spiny leaves resemble hollies but osmanthus plants have something extra which gave them their name derived from Greek: osme = fragrance and anthos = flower. Osmanthus has tiny but highly fragrant flowers. I was an amateur when I bought the first plants and I had no idea that in all encyclopedias they were rated too tender for our C.E. climate. And since I never knew I put them to my garden. And after some 15 years of growing I can assure you that all of them not only survived even the worst winter of 2006/2007, they thrive, some of them, even, are taller than me and I am very close to 2m. Including the most tender one o.fragrans. I keep on trialling more species and varieties because I noticed that they have some genetic predisposition for extreme drought tolerance in summer and some are even happy with dry soil in winter. And with current lack of precipitation we will need more of drought tolerant plants.

Origin of this osmanthus is a bit of a mystery. Long time ago a few plants were found in some Tuscan nurseries in Italy, erroneously named Osmanthus armatus. That species is equipped with sharp spines along its narrow leaves but the Italian clones were different. Their foliage was leathery like o. x fortunei but shaped like o. fragrans. We trialed several plants in our gardens of USDA zone 6 and they performed superbly unlike true o. fragrans which is sometimes tender even in zone 8. We named it simply o. fragrans f. dentatus for its leaf shape.

This unique sweet olive is a mid-sized or large, well-branched shrub with thin, flexible twigs which withstand heavy, wet snow without breaking. Its evergreen leaves are leathery, oblong-lance-shaped, medium to dark green, not very glossy, but exceptionally large: up to 16 cm long and 4-6 cm wide. Their margins are either entire or gently serrated with a few, almost invisible, harmless spines. In spring they emerge a fantastic shade of coppery red and amber orange and remain glossy until they mature. In October appear plenty of tiny, white, sweetly scented flowers which fill the surroundings with sweet citrus and fruit fragrance.

It grows moderately or fast into an upright shrub of circular to oval habit. Older plants may be limbed up into an attractive, small, multi-stemmed tree, or shaped in any way (mushroom-head, ball, pyramid), preferably in spring after all frosts. Late summer trimming is not recommended in zone 6.

Grow osmanthus in moist but well-drained, humus rich, preferably acidic soil. Provide plenty of mulch for winter to protect the roots from fast freezing. It loves full sun but in colder regions find it a location sheltered from late winter and early spring sunlight, but with plenty of light during the growing season. Use only plants with mature wood in zone 6 and transplant it no later than late summer in order to avoid frost damage after the first winter. It is perfectly hardy to -20 °C without damage, and to -24°C (USDA zone 6) with some sunscorch. It will withstand a few degrees lower with some wood damage but regenerates readily after spring pruning. It does not suffer from diseases, but vine weevil can be a problem.

Last update 18-11-2019; 05-02-2021
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Osmanthus fragrans f. height 80-100 cm

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Elaeagnus x ebbingei
Osmanthus x fortunei (o.aquifolium)
Prunus lusitanica
  • STANDARD QUALITY - Plants of this group are 1st class quality with number of branches and overall density adequate to their size and age, considering they were container grown.
  • DE LUXE QUALITY - This label guarantees a luxurious quality of manually selected plants that, compared to their height and age, are exceptionally dense and beautiful.
  • EXTRA - These plants are usually mature and bigger specimens with exceptional overall appearance.
  • STANDARD (as described in the plant form) means a tree with a trunk of 190-210 cm and a crown at the top, unless specified differently. The commercial size for trees is their girth measured in the height of 1m from ground.
  • HOBBY - These plants are of the same quality as our standard-quality plants but younger and therefore cheaper.
  • SHRUB - a woody plant with branches growing bushy from the ground level.
  • HALF-STANDARD or MINI-STANDARD - a small tree with shorter trunk, its size is usually specified.
  • FEATHERED - These are trees with branches growing already from the base of the trunk and up along the stem.
  • GRASSES and PERENNIALS - Sizes given usually read the diameter of the pot or the clump, as specified.
LARGE PLANTS over 150 cmspecimens, screening and hedging shrubs

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