Thursday, March 22, 2012

New Plant: Osmanthus fragrans

It doesn't look like much, but the rumors are true: Osmanthus fragrans flowers smell pretty awesome.

I got this in the mail this week from Ginny Burton,1 who has been pushing me to get one for a long time. (I would have done so on my own, had I ever seen any for sale in Iowa.)

The plant had a few flowers on it when it arrived, not all of which had a noticeable scent, but the ones that did smell very much like apricots. It's not strong enough to fill the whole house, as some on-line sources suggested, but then, it's still a small plant, it's been in a box for a few days, the flowers appear to fluctuate quite a bit in scent production depending on age and time of day, etc.

It still remains to be seen whether I'll be able to grow it in any kind of long-term way; I've never tried this plant (or any plant in the Oleaceae, for that matter) before, and I've only had this one since Monday. I'll keep you posted.


1 I ordinarily don't publicly identify people who send me plants, because publicizing opens up all kinds of possibilities for people to be swarmed by requests for cuttings, hurt feelings because I got a plant and someone else didn't, or . . . I don't even know. It's just simpler to leave people anonymous unless they specify otherwise. Ginny said it was okay, though.


Fragrans said...

I got one of those this year to grow indoors. It keeps happily making flowers, but baffles me in its lack of new leaves. It's been months and it still looks as straggly as the day it came, which is a lot like the one in your pic.

Ginny Burton said...

Ginny Burton is obviously some kind of publicity hog who wants the whole world to fall in love with this plant and knows that the best way to accomplish her goal is to have you write about it in glowing terms and then she'll leap in and take credit for its popularity.

Liza said...

Damn you Ginny, I want one too! Haha, juuuust kidding. About the damn you part. I have been looking for this plant ever since you started singing their praises, but I haven't found one in any of the nurseries in Albuquerque. Which isn't surprising because there is a limited supply of houseplants here in general.

I'm gonna keep looking, though!

Sheri Burg, aka. Gardening Girl PB said...

Congratulations on your first sweet tea olive! I live in S. Florida and have three shrubs in my yard. Absolutely love them & by far one of my top 3 plants! Their scent does permeate whatever area they are in, so they aren't for the faint of heart, lol. Though the scent becomes stronger the more flower clusters there are on the plant. One shrub gets part sun/shade & the other two get full sun though all three are doing great. Good luck & enjoy!

Ginny Burton said...

I got these on ebay from someone I'd traded with on GardenWeb, so I knew the plants would be good. You could email him directly: shukovsky1234 (at)
He has a small nursery in South Carolina: newlifenursery (dot) net

There are also a lot of others listed on ebay, but I can't vouch for the growers.

This is, hands down, my favorite plant. Very slow growing, pest free, heavenly fragrance. I've always kept mine in pots so that I can move them into the house in the winter, but I'm going to try planting a few in a protected spot and see if they'll survive.

Tom said...

I had a different Osmanthus (heterophyllus 'Goshiki') for a few months but it died when I went on vacation and my beau forgot to water it (it was parked out in the hallway to enjoy some moderately cool drafts). It was really easy while it lasted though...

When I was at Longwood they had a bunch of these in the conservatory, the fragrance was overpowering/amazing.

Lee said...

Oh, Osmanthus. I really like them.
The orange flowering form of the species, Osmanthus fragrans f. aurantiacus, are commonly planted in southern coasts and islands of Korea. Their scents are marvelous indeed; I still remember their scents wafting through the air in september, which was the midterm season for most Korean high schools. I found their fragrance soothing, quite helpful for relieving stress from failed math exams.

Anonymous said...

Osmanthus americanus is an attractive evergreen shrub that's hardy at least to USDA Zone 5b. Fragrant flowers, but at the beginning of June instead of the fall like the rest of the genus. No prickles on the leaves!
A problem-free landscape plant at the Arnold Arboretum in Boston.

I've tried Osmanthus fragrans as a houseplant, but it didn't survive under with my inattentive ministrations.

Nancy in Sun Lakes AZ said...

Living in dry hot Phoenix, I wondered if anyone in a similar climate has tried this plant. I would just love it but I'm afraid it won't surive here.