Osmanthus – Osmanthus – Garden plants – Osmanthus, Olea fragrans – Osmanthus – Shrubs



osmanthus decorus The leaves of Osmanthus are opposite and indented. As for the flowers, they are small, white, grouped in clusters and appear both in the armpit of the leaves and at the end of the branches.

Speaking of the fruits of this species, however, are fleshy and ovoid bluish in color.

  • Osmanto The name of these shrubs is not very well known, and even their appearance is not too particular, they are confused with other more common evergreen garden shrubs, but they have a particularity that can be seen in the …
  • fiorellini di osmanthus fragrans The osmanthus is part of the oleaceae family. There are several species of osmanthus, but all have persistent foliage and very fragrant white flowers. Depending on the variety to which they belong, they…

General characteristics Osmanthus

The genus Osmanthus comprises about 50 species of shrubs or trees belonging to the family Oleaceae, the same as the olive tree. From the horticultural point of view, the peculiar characteristics are the persistent foliage, the spring and autumn flowering (not always showy) and the powerful aroma that it releases into the air.

There are more or less compact varieties: the final size can be from 40 cm up to 4 meters. It is therefore a plant that adapts to many different uses and locations.

In general, it is rather resistant and adaptable in terms of soil and water requirements. Some species are quite delicate with regard to exposure to low temperatures: it is therefore good to assess this aspect before inserting one in our green space.

This shrub can be easily recognized by its persistent, leathery and very shiny leaves. Some have a smooth edge, others instead have notches and spines that make them very similar to those of the holly (which, however, has alternating). The flowers, collected in bunches or axillary or apical panicles, are mostly white or orange. Spring production takes place on the branches of the previous year, autumn production on the branches grown in the year.

The ripening of the fruits, which are also decorative, takes place around October. They have the appearance of berries from purplish to brown, similar to small plums or olive trees, with an inner stone.


Family, genus, species

 Oleaceae, osmanthus, about 50 species

Type of plant

 From shrub to small tree



Dimensions (h/l)

 1-10 m/1-3 m





Water requirements

 Low to medium


 Gentle to resistant, depending on species


 Sun-half shade




 Deep, moderately rich, well drained; even poor

Soil pH

 Neutral to sub-alkaline


 Isolated specimen, hedge, groves, flowerbeds, vase

Pests and diseases

 Cochineal, aphids, dorifora, radical rottenness


 Cuttings, layering

Other species of osmanthus

osmanthus heterophyllus goshiki Osmanthus Fragrans is the most perfumed and used species in the ornamental field, native to China and Japan, it is a small shrub. Roundish in shape, suitable for cultivation in pots, with pointed oval leaves, leathery and indented. The flowers are creamy white, very fragrant, bloom in July – August. The Aurantiacus variety has orange flowers that are used to perfume green tea.

Osmantus Aquifolium or Eterophylla

The osmantus aquifolium is an ornamental plant native to Japan, it is a roundish shrub suitable for forming hedges.

As for the leaves, they are of variable shape, some have a sharp edge similar to those of the holly, others always on the same plant are oval and with a single thorn at the apex.

The size of this plant, in terms of height and diameter, ranges from 3 to five meters.

The flowers

They appear in September-October (end of August in the hottest areas) and are fragrant, white, tubular, grouped in axillary bunches.

The fruits are dark blue in colour.


in full sun or semi-shaded sheltered from the cold winds. Temperature: in regions with cold winters it is necessary to withdraw it in an enclosed environment. Watering: abundant in spring and summer; in general, the osmanthus, and in particular the most fragrant species, prefers warm and dry climates.

In the North and in the foothills it is advisable to have full sun exposure and possibly close to a wall, so that the plant is a little protected from the winter cold and winds.

In the Centre-South and on the coasts it is possible (or in some cases advisable) a slightly more shaded exposure, perhaps to the West.


osmanto The osmantus grow in all garden soils, but prefer acidic and slightly sandy soils. The ideal soil must be deep, neutral, well drained, but not excessively poor: in this way, the vegetative growth will be stimulated, which otherwise would be really slow.

The plant adapts well, however, also to poor soils, calcareous, stony or possibly even sluggish. For this reason it is ideal, for example, to be inserted in the coastal gardens and it perfectly matches with the essences of the Mediterranean maquis.

On the contrary, the humid, poorly drained and cold substrata, which would lead the specimen to a sure deterioration, must be absolutely avoided.


In spring, a layer of undecomposed peat or manure is placed over the roots. If growth is too slow, give a full fertilizer.


In July, cut 10 cm long cuttings of mature or semi-mature wood and plant in a box with a warm bed at about 20 degrees in a mixture of peat and sand in equal parts. The rooted cuttings are transplanted in pots, with universal mould, and are to be wintered in a cold chest. In the following April, they are planted and grown for two years before being planted.


They are not subject to pest attack. Rarely are they attacked by parasites, but the most frequent is undoubtedly the cochineal.


fiori profumati osmanto Contrary to what is believed there are very rustic osmanthus, capable of withstanding temperatures around -17 ° C and suitable for almost the entire Italian territory. It should be noted, however, that some varieties are distinctly heliophilous and thermophilic, so a long period of cold winter would only discourage the already slow growth, as well as causing desiccation of the branches.

Ultimately, for the northern regions, the advice is to choose between the less sensitive varieties and to prefer a warm and sheltered location.

It can also be useful to have a thick mulch (and insulation of any pot) and the use of covers with non-woven fabric.


To ensure good rooting, the administration must be carried out assiduously for at least the first two years after implantation. Afterwards the plant will prove almost autonomous, even if our intervention, from time to time, especially during the warmer months, can only be a stimulus to growth and flowering.


particolare osmanto The specimens are usually sold in pots. The best time to proceed is almost everywhere in the spring, waiting for the ground to have already warmed up and is well workable. However, in regions with a particularly mild climate, the autumn planting can help us by providing us with a plant that is already partially free when the summer arrives and therefore a faster vegetative recovery.

The ideal distance between one osmanthus and another ranges from 1 to 3 meters, depending on the final size it will have to reach. If we want to create a hedge, however, it is possible to go down to just 80 cm, so as to quickly obtain a full result.

How to proceed?

Let’s dig a hole twice as deep and wide as the bread of the earth. On the bottom we create a thick draining layer. We mix the extracted soil with at least 1/3 of sand, a good amount of mature manure and some gravel. After having inserted the specimen, we cover and compact, then irrigating abundantly.



 March-April/October-November in the South



Pruning (spring flowering)


Pruning (autumn flowering)


Propagation (cutting, layering)


Crop care

These shrubs are very easy to grow and do not require constant maintenance, also thanks to their slow growth.

It may be useful in autumn to spread abundant mature manure in the area covered by the canopy and in spring a slow-release product specifically for green plants.


As we have said, osmanthus has a moderate growth and therefore rarely needs intervention in this respect. You can safely decide not to be able to do so.

The first few years after planting it is absolutely preferable to refrain from any intervention to give the plant time to adapt and begin to grow.

This is how we can proceed from the third year onwards, both on individual specimens and on hedges.

– Spring flowering varieties (produced on old branches) should be rebalanced and cleaned from branches damaged by cold immediately after the buds have dried. In this way, the plant can grow until autumn and bloom again in the following year.

– For those with autumn or late flowering, it is advisable to intervene at the end of the winter, as they produce the buds on the branches developed in the current year. The ideal is to reduce their length by a maximum of 1/3.

If we are not interested in flowering and pursue a formal hedge or topiary art, we can intervene at any time since osmanthus, from this point of view, is really tolerant.


They can be used in many ways: juxtaposed with other shrubs, as an isolated specimen or for the creation of beautiful scented hedges, formal or informal. The smaller varieties can be placed in pots, gardens or even terraces.

Their flowers are loved by bees and butterflies, while the fruits attract small birds during the bad season, making our green space alive.

Use of flowers

Osmanthus flowers have a very sweet and persistent aroma, similar to that of apricots and jasmine. In China, tradition has it that they are harvested and used to flavour tea and biscuits. However, they are also useful in giving a pleasant scent to medicinal decoctions otherwise unattractive.

The roots and the bark also have a healthy use: after boiling them for a long time they are useful against inflammations, in particular of the throat.

The corollas, harvested early in the morning, are very much in demand by the perfumery industry, which produces very expensive essences.

Flower harvesting and conservation

The flowers are picked as soon as they bloom, possibly early in the morning. They should then be dried on a clean cloth, in a cool and airy area, away from the sun. We can then place them in a hermetically sealed jar to be kept in the dark.

Osmanthus: VARIETA ‘

The osmanthus are distinguished mainly by the type of foliage, flowering period, size and rusticity.

Leaf type

Species and varieties


Other features

Rusticity and use


 O. fragrans, species Also known as olea fragrans

 Very small, white, fragrant flowers in axillary bunches in autumn

 O. fragrans, species Also known as olea fragrans

 O. fragrans, species Also known as olea fragrans


apricot gold

 Orange perfumed flowers

 O.frag Makino, aurianticus

 Orange flowers in autumn

 Tree, up to 4

 O.frag semperflorens

 White, fragrant flowers, produced from spring to autumn

 O.frag Osmanthus x fortunei

 White, fragrant, in autumn

 Up to 4 meters, hybrid, faster growth.

Strongly toothed leaves that become then unique

With spines

 O.s heterophyllus

 White, fragrant, in axillary bunches, in autumn

 Up to 4 m Dark green leaves, very thorny low leaves, smooth on top

 Up to -16°C


heterophyllus ‘Aureomarginatus’

 White, fragrant, in axillary bunches, in autumn

 Golden edge

 Up to -16°C

 O.s heterophyllus

 White, fragrant, in axillary bunches, in autumn

 Compact and with decorative and very thorny yellow foliage

 Up to -16°C

Smooth edge

 O. x burkwoodii

 White, very fragrant, in spring

 Up to 3 m, regular leaves, glossy dark green

 Up to -16°C

For small hedges.

 O.heterophyllus ‘Myrtifolius’

 White, fragrant, in axillary bunches, in autumn

 Up to 3 m, slow growth Small leaves

 Small hedges, topiary and vase art

 O. delavayi

 White in spring

 Up to 2 m, oval leaves

 O. decorus Angustifolius’

 White bouquets in spring, purple fruits

 Very compact, up to 1 metre, small leaves

 For hedges and pots

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