Sweet olive

Osmanthus fragrans


The sweet olive brings perhaps the best fragrance of any plant to our residential gardens and landscapes. It grows into a large evergreen shrub or small tree, 12-15 ft. tall, 8-10 ft. wide. Clusters of tiny cream colored flowers with abundant fragrance occur in both spring and fall.

Sweet olive is native to China and Japan where it grows with cool and moist winters and warm summers. Throughout the Inland Empire it grows best in loam soils, with regular moisture and protection from hot sun exposures. The fragrance of sweet olive flowers is often described as a blend of citrus and gardenia. It is commonly planted in background areas to provide screening and where flower fragrance can drift throughout the garden. Older specimens can be pruned into an attractive low branching tree; young plants are sometimes clipped as a hedge.

Plant Type: Shrub
Foliage Character: Evergreen
Habit: Upright
Growth Rate: Moderate
Foliage Color: Medium green
Flower Color: Cream
Flower Season: Spring, Fall
Soil Adaptations: Loam, Clay
Exposure Adaptations: Morning sun, Moderate shade, Partial sun
Function: Specimen, Screening, Foundations, Background plant, Fragrant flowers, Hedge
Height: 12 ft. – 15 ft.
Width: 8 ft. – 10 ft.