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The Sweet Scent of Fall


Flowers on Sweet Olive. Photo credit: Julie McConnell, UF/IFAS Extension

Sweet Olive Osmanthus fragrans is a versatile evergreen that produces fragrant flowers from the fall through the winter months.  This upright-growing large shrub or small tree has medium green leaves and small white flowers that form in the leaf axils.  The tiny flowers are not very showy, but have a light lemony fragrance that will have you searching for the source.

Sweet Olive is not a fast grower but will need space in the garden to reach maturity (15-20 feet tall x 10-15 feet wide).  It makes an ideal privacy screen for outdoor living spaces where you can enjoy the flower scents while temperatures are cool.

Sweet Olive will grow in sun or shade, although the foliage is less dense in heavily shaded spots.  It performs well in all soil types as long as they are well-drained and once established tolerate drought conditions.   Sweet Olive is cold tolerant to zone 7b and has few pests.   Although it is in the same family as olives, the fruit is not edible or showy.

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