Osmanthus - Osmanthus

Osmanthus - Osmanthus

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Characteristics of osmanthus

The Osmanthus is a plant native to Asia, belonging to a genus that includes 15 species of shrubs of evergreen species. Osmanthus is a shrub or small tree originating from East Asia and in particular from China: here it is known, appreciated and used, for its aromatic and medicinal virtues, for at least 2000 years. The name osmanthus derives from the Greek and underlines its peculiar characteristic of having deliciously perfumed flowers and leaves.
In Italy it has been known for a long time and has become a shrub of common use, especially in areas with a temperate climate, therefore in the Center-South, on the coasts and near the great lakes.

The osmantus they grow in all garden soils, but they prefer acid and slightly sandy soils. The ideal soil must be deep, neutral, well drained, but not excessively poor: in this way vegetative growth will also be stimulated, which otherwise would be really slow.However, the plant also adapts well to poor, calcareous, stony or possibly even muddy soils. This is why it is ideal, for example, to be included in coastal gardens and perfectly matches the essences of the Mediterranean maquis.On the other hand, wet, poorly drained and cold substrates should be avoided, which would lead to the deterioration of the specimen.fertilizing

in spring, a layer of peat or untidy manure is placed over the roots. If growth is too slow, give a complete fertilizer.


in July, cuttings of mature or semi-mature wood are cut 10 cm long and are planted in a hot bed at about 20 degrees in a mixture of peat and sand in equal parts. The rooted cuttings are transplanted into pots, with universal soil and are left to winter in a cold box. In the following April they are planted and cultivated for two years before planting them.


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


Contrary to popular belief there are very rustic osmanthus, capable of withstanding temperatures around -17 ° C and suitable for almost all the Italian territory. However, it must be pointed out that some varieties are distinctly heliophilous and thermophilic, consequently a long cold winter period would do nothing but discourage their already slow growth, as well as causing branches to dry out. Ultimately, for the northern regions, the advice is to choose among the less sensitive varieties and to prefer a warm and sheltered positioning.
Furthermore, a thick mulching (and insulation of the eventual vessel) and the use of covers with non-woven fabric may be useful.


To ensure a good rooting it is necessary to be diligent with the administrations for at least the first two years from the implant. Later the plant will turn out to be almost autonomous, even if our intervention, from time to time, especially during the hottest months, can only stimulate growth and flowering.


The specimens are generally sold in pots. The best time to proceed is almost everywhere in the spring, waiting for the ground to have already warmed up and to be well workable. However, in regions with a particularly mild climate, the autumn plant can help us by providing us with a plant that has already been partially stamped at the arrival of the warm season and therefore a faster vegetative growth.
The ideal distance between one osmanthus and the other goes from 1 to 3 meters, depending on the final dimensions that it will have to reach. In case we want to create a hedge, it is possible to go down even up to only 80 cm, so as to obtain a full result quickly.
How to proceed?
We dig a deep hole twice as wide as the earth bread. On the bottom we create a thick draining layer. Mix the extracted earth with at least 1/3 of sand, a good quantity of mature manure and a bit of gravel. After inserting the specimen we cover and compact, then watering abundantly.

Crop care

These shrubs are very easy to grow and do not require constant maintenance, thanks also to slow growth.
It can be useful in autumn to spread abundant mature manure in the area covered by the foliage and in spring a slow release product specific for green plants.


As we have said, osmanthus has a moderate growth and therefore rarely needs interventions from this point of view. You can easily decide not to prune it.
The first years after planting it is absolutely preferable to refrain from any intervention to leave the plant time to adapt and begin to grow.
Here is how to proceed from the third year, both on single specimens and on hedges.
- The spring-flowering varieties (produced on the old branches) must be rebalanced and cleaned from the branches damaged by the cold immediately after the withering of the buds. In this way the plant can grow again until the autumn and bloom again the following year.
- On those with autumn or late flowering it is good to intervene at the end of winter, since they produce buds on the branches developed in the current year. The ideal is to reduce its length by a maximum of 1/3.
If flowering does not interest us and we pursue a formal hedge or topiary art, we can intervene at any time since the 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 most contained varieties can be inserted in pots, for 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 come 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 flavor tea and biscuits. However, they also find their usefulness by giving a pleasant scent to medicinal decoctions otherwise unattractive.
Also the roots and the bark have a health use: after having boiled them for a long time they are useful against inflammations, in particular of the throat.
The corollas, harvested early in the morning, are in great demand by the perfume industry which makes very expensive essences.

Collection and storage of flowers

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

Osmanto: VARIETY

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

Planting March-April / October-November in the South
Flowering April-May / September-November
Pruning (spring flowering) June
Pruning (with autumn flowering) February March
Propagation (cutting, layering) July August

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Leaf type

Species and varieties


Other characteristics

Rusticity and use

O. fragrans, species Also called olea fragrans Very small flowers, white and fragrant, in axillary bunches in autumn O. fragrans, species Also called olea fragrans O. fragrans, species Also called olea fragrans
O.frag. apricot gold Scented orange flowers
O.frag Makino, aurianticus Orange flowers in autumn Sapling, up to 4
O.frag semperflorens White flowers, fragrant, produced from spring to autumn
O.frag Osmanthus x fortunei White, fragrant, in autumn Up to 4 meters, hybrid, faster growth. Strongly toothed leaves which then become unique

With spines
O.s heterophyllus White, fragrant, in axillary bunches, in autumn Up to 4 m Dark green leaves, low thorny ones, smooth on top Up to -16 ° C
O. heterophyllus 'Aureomarginatus' White, fragrant, in axillary bunches, in autumn Gold border 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
O. delavayi Whites in spring Up to 2 m, oval leaves
O. decorus Angustifolius' White bunches in spring, purple fruit Very compact, up to 1 meter, small leaves For siepine and vases