Osmanthus fragrans

Sweet Olive or Fragrant Tea Olive

An evergreen shrub from China Osmanthus fragrans is not only grown for the sweetly fragrant flowers but also as a hedging plant. The flowers were traditionally used to flavour deserts as well as tea in China.

Characterises by an upright growth habit and large glossy foliage this is a useful shrub that is also used in topiary. This is a shrub that will flower from Fall through to Spring depending on climate zone.

How to Grow Sweet Olive

  • A humus rich well drained soil is best.
  • Choose a position in full sun to a little shade.
  • The best position is near a pathway where the fragrance of the plant can be appreciated.
  • Mulch around the plant too maintain a cool moist root run.
  • Water well through the first few summers.
  • Fertilize with a slow release organic type fertilizer in spring.

Pruning Sweet Olive

This is an evergreen shrub and the best time to prune Osmanthus fragrans is immediately after flowering.


  • Lack of water and very low humidity can cause leaves to drop.
  • Sudden changes in temperature can be a problem if moving potted plants from indoors or a sheltered position to outdoors.
  • Lack of light – This can cause spindly or leggy growth as well as poor leaf colour.
  • Pests – Watch out for scale insects, sap sucking insects, aphids and fungal problems with potted plants
Summary Information
  • Botanical Name – Osmanthus fragrans
  • Common Names – Sweet Olive or Fragrant Tea Olive
  • Height – To around 12ft (4m)
  • Spread – To a width of around 6ft (2m)
  • Growth Rate – Slow to medium.
  • Foliage – Broad leaf glossy green
  • Flowers – White to yellow
  • Flowering time – Fall to Spring depending on climate zone.
  • USDA Zones – Zone: 7B – 9B.
  • Soil pH – 5 – 7
  • Drought Tolerant – Medium
  • Frost Tolerant – Light frosts only, heavy frosts will inhibit flowering.
  • Salt Tolerant – No