It’s blooming….  As soon as I walked out the door I caught the fragrance. Osmanthus fragrans, known in the south as ‘ ‘Tea Olive’.


Tiny but abundant cream coloured blossoms emit the most remarkable and penetrating fragrance. 

This is a beautiful, pest free, evergreen shrub that matures at 10 to 15  feet, and blooms TWICE a year; fall & spring.

To quote Dirr* “to not try the plant is to cheat one’s garden.” I so agree, and cannot recall a garden design where this plant was not included. It also makes a remarkable evergreen hedge.

This spring, at the suggestion of my friend Marsha, I acquired a new selection (Osmanthus aurantiacus) that blooms only once in the autumn, and the flowers are ‘pale orange’.                                                                                          

 It’s hard to say how fragrant it is because I have Osmanthus fragrans  planted much like Margaret Moseley* advised with gardenias, every 25-30 feet or so ,where an evergreen was required and the conditions are favorable, so the entire garden is permeated with the fragrance. I have followed her advice on this with almost every fragrant shrub in the garden. Something you might want to try if there is a fragrance you are particularly fond of.

I don’t take lightly any advice given by a 95-year-old gardener. Clearly she has much more experience than I.

*Dirr, Michael, Renowned woody plant expert. Author of the textbook A MANUAL OF WOODY LANDSCAPE PLANTS.

*Margaret Moseley, famous Atlanta Gardener.



  1. I have a large Osmanthus fragrans planted on corner of back of my carport – it has been there now about 25 years and is just wonderful this time of the year. So many times years ago when my late husband and I were returning from Houston TX where he went often for cancer therapy, we’d drive into that carport this time of the year and the frangrance of it just said to us “welcome home.”
    I had it trimmed back last year – it had become quite straggly but now looks really good.
    It is packed with blossoms now and is so wonderful.
    I also have long hedges of osmanthus fortunei which certainly does not have the many blossoms as frangrans does but I notice couple days ago, it is in bloom, too now. It makes a fine, dense hedge and gives me the privacy that I so enjoy in my backyard here on this city lot.
    “Tea olive” is such a wonderful Southern delight – ranks right up there with gardenias, hydrangeas, crepe myrtles saying “this is the South.”

  2. I discovered this plant a few years ago and I now could not garden without it. The fragrance is so intense and wonderful. Ours is blooming heavily right now, in fact, I’ve never seen so many blooms. I’m not familiar with the orange blooming one but I will have to look for it.

  3. Nothing smells in my neck of the woods. it has been so hot here that all my flowers and herbs started to fizzle about two weeks ago. even the geranium which usually last until oct.. The azaleas started loosing leaves about 3 weeks ago. what’s up with them?! you should see the lake we have lost about 8 feet! the mums have buds in them. Hope they don’t chicken out and put up a good show!

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