Plants: Osmanthus aquifolium - sweet olive, tea olive

12.08. 2011 10:56:00 (Milan Havlis)
Topic: Plants / Evergreen Shrubs

Osmanthus is a genus of about 15-20, while only a few ones are hardy enough to grow down to zone 6. Those are often mistaken for hollies owing to their foliage appearance. Osmanthus is native to Japan and China, some species originate in the south of USA.

Osmanthus aquifolium - sweet olive, tea olive

This species is my top favourite among sweet olives and one of my most loved evergreen shrubs in general. It is a mid sized plant with leathery, deep green, glossy leaves with sharply serrated margins which is why non-professionals often think they are looking at a holly. The main differences are: sweet olive has opposite leaves (hollies have alternate leaves), and sweet olive shrubs are rounded to oval while hollies usually make pyramidal forms. At the end of autumn sweet olives bear tiny white flowers with pleasantly sweet fragrance.

The shape and luxurious foliage make this plant a jewel which was given a place of honour in my garden, put right next to the Mediterranean gazebo = sweet olives are mostly cultivated in the south of Europe (Italy, France) where they perfectly decorate the typical Mediterranean architecture.

Grow sweet olive in moist but well-drained, humus rich, preferably acidic soil. It likes full sun and in zone 6 we recommend planting it where sun does not shine in winter and early spring to keep it from sun scorch if the roots linger in frozen soil for a longer period of time. If grown in full sun and some leaves are burnt after winter just remove them, the plant will soon make new ones. Pest and disease free. Reliably hardy to -20°C, with some burnt foliage down to -24°C (USDA zone 6). Choose older plants for growing in zone 6.

TIPS FOR LUXURIOUS CARE: When it makes new shoots cut them to about one half to one third – the plant responds very well to such pruning by forming a very dense shrub without odd branches here and there.

Size/type: medium-sized shrub
Usual height: 1-2m
Usual width: 1-2m
Leaves: evergreen broadleaf
Colour of leaves: green
Flowers: less showy but noticeable
Colour of flowers: white
Blooming time: october - november
Location: full to partial sun
Usda zone (lowest): 6b (down to -21°c)
Winter protection:
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

Osmanthus aquifolium - sweet olive, tea olive

Zahradnictví SAFRO Milan Havlis
155 00 Praha Stodůlky, Za Mototechnou 2673/-11, Czech Republic