Osmanthus fragrans (Sweet Olive) is an evergreen shrub or small tree native to East Asia. It is highly regarded for its beautiful, intensely fragrant flowers.
Appearance: Sweet Olive is a dense, compact shrub or small tree that typically reaches a height of 10 to 30 feet (3 to 9 meters), although some varieties can grow taller. It has glossy, leathery, oval-shaped leaves that are dark green on the upper surface and lighter green on the underside. The foliage is arranged in an opposite or whorled pattern along the branches. The plant's growth habit is generally upright and rounded.
Fragrant flowers: One of the most notable features of Osmanthus fragrans is its highly fragrant flowers. The small, tubular flowers have a creamy white or yellow color and bloom in clusters. The fragrance is often described as sweet, fruity, and apricot-like. The flowers typically appear in late summer or early autumn, although some varieties may bloom at other times of the year.
Flowering varieties: There are several cultivars and varieties of Sweet Olive, each with its unique characteristics. Some notable cultivars include 'Fudingzhu' with double white flowers, 'Aurantiacus' with orange flowers, and 'Thunbergii' with small, narrow leaves.
Environmental adaptability: Sweet Olive is adaptable to a range of growing conditions. It prefers full sun to partial shade and well-drained, fertile soil. It can tolerate a variety of soil types but thrives in moist, humus-rich soils. It is generally hardy in USDA hardiness zones 7 to 10.
Landscape use: Osmanthus fragrans is popularly cultivated as an ornamental plant for its delightful fragrance and attractive foliage. It can be used as a specimen plant, in hedges, or in mixed shrub borders. It is often grown near outdoor seating areas or windows, where the fragrance of the flowers can be enjoyed.
It's worth noting that while Sweet Olive is known for its fragrance, the intensity of the scent can vary between cultivars and individual plants. Some varieties have a stronger fragrance than others.