Sunday, October 12, 2014

Osmanthus fragrans

I remember the exact spot where I first smelled Tea Olive. I begged a sprig from the lady of the house who said her husband would know, he planted it. I carried the scented blooms to my next stop where a young woman identified it immediately.

"Tea Olive," she said. We used to have a shrub outside the dining room window when I was a child."

Outside the dining room or any window would be a great location. The scent grabs your attention from 10 feet away, a fruity fragrance of apricot and other luscious  flavors.

This years' blooms were larger, more in number than I remembered from previous years. They appeared just after cool weather came last week. I caught the scent on the north wind as I walked to the mailbox.

As quickly as they opened, they disappeared after a few days when the weather turned hot again. Tea Olive will bloom during fall and winter and into the spring until temperatures soar again. Freezes may set it back but it recovers quickly. Like most of the plants that thrive in the Coastal Plain, Tea Olives grow best in fertile, moist, well-drained acidic soil.

There is a native Osmanthus, O. americanus which has smaller, more slender leaves and grows along swamp and stream margins.

My efforts to root Osmanthus fragrans have failed. Maybe I'll try again next month.


  1. I caught the fragrance of tea olive when I was on my patio recently, carried on the wind a good 50 feet. My husband also remarked on the delightful smell. I have a young border of tea olives down in the arbor garden, and I also noticed that the flowers are larger and more in number this year.

  2. So many wonderfully fragrant flowers! I love the all.

  3. I don't know if I've ever smelled these. They sound wonderful. I LOVE scented blooms.

    Enjoy ~ FlowerLady

  4. I have a Tea Olive that perfumes my whole backyard in the Spring.I love that smell.

  5. I think we all love flowers with scent. Sometimes in winter when I bring in an especially pretty Camellia, He-who-mows always tries to smell it. You'd think he'd have learned by now that they have no fragrance.

  6. I had one in my old garden - the scent was heavenly. You've reminded me that I need to find a place for one here.

  7. This is another one I wish I could grow.

    I checked one of my books on propagation and here is what it said.


    "Root semi-ripe nodal stem-tip cuttings from late summer to winter.
    Where possible,take with a heel. Insert in free-draining medium or rockwool plugs with bottom heat.

    Sow seeds in containers in autumn and leave in a frost-free place."

    I know you are very knowledgeable about all of this but thought I would share anyway. Good luck.

  8. Oh, Glenda! I took cuttings in June a couple of times, wrong time.

    I'd wondered about taking a 'heel' for these. It works great for Rosemary.

    I have pots ready, will take cuttings TODAY. Thank you!

    I've never looked for seeds but I'll be an old, old lady before they'd bloom from seeds, I'm afraid.


I look forward to comments and questions and lively discussion of gardening and related ideas.

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