Has anyone successfully grown a Fragrant Tea Olive in zone 7? I bought one at my local box store, and the tag said good hedge plant...
Zone 7 runs from Texas to Long Island, so it depends what "zone 7" you are talking about. Where are you located more specifically? Basically South of Virginia you're probably fine under best circumstances, North of that there are some hardier crosses and relatives but not likely Tea olive.
But chances are if they sell it at your local box store it is hardy; they don't sell Osmanthus in the DC area, and certainly not in the NYC metro area (both are zone 7). I have 2 Osmanthus fragrans 'auranticus' which I have outside and will see how they do! I will wrap them in the winter with bubble wrap for the first few years to help them get established. Also I baby them with good soil and regular drip irrigation; and have sited them appropriately, so just because your neighbor's plant survives doesn't necessarily mean yours will.
Osmanthus fragrans is "sweet tea olive", really meant for "the south"
Osmanthus heterophyllus is a close relative that looks like a holly which is fully hardy to zone 6
Osmanthus fortunei is a cross between the two and is hardy as well.
Thanks for the reply! I'm in RIC va, so I guess we will see what happens. I planted it in front of the house (bc it was labeled a hedge plant,) where it pretty much gets sun till 3 or 4 pm. So I'm a little worried it's too much sun for now, but may help it survive the winter?
Osmanthus like hot and humid in the summer, and protecting them from winter is the key. It's been a while since my wife lived there and I visited (dating at that point), but I'm pretty sure you're fine temp wise. Home Depot doesn't typically sell things that are half hardy... though even in Georgia Michael Dirr said he had some dieback from year to year.
They will get to Lilac size, and although you can prune them, Osmanthus flower on old wood, so pruning will delay or stop flowering for some time (could be years according to wikipedia). So I would try to site it in a place where can grow uninhibited (6-10' tall and wide).
The main object in protecting plants in winter is desiccation of leaves. You're not going to do much about minimum temperatures, so focus on keeping the plant from drying out in winter. Being evergreen the plant needs to provide some moisture all year round, so planting somewhere with more sun is probably better than less. At least my theory is that the top couple inches where most of the roots are may stay unfrozen longer if it's in the sun.
Cold means low humidity, and wind exacerbates that. So if you can plant it out of the wind, i.e. not out in a field, protected closer to a house or wind break it will help.
Realistically getting the plant established as it's already mid summer is more important than anything else; I'd make sure it gets enough water to put out some good root growth to prepare it for winter. Maybe some slow release osmocote or compost on top, nothing strong, but to encourage the roots to spread out.
Here's a pic from LSU, you can see they've got it up against a large radiating heat source (brick etc...) so heat isn't an issue as long as they have the moisture and nutrients to make use of that heat. And you can see what they mean by "shrub", it's really a small tree...
This post was edited by ocelaris on Mon, Jul 28, 14 at 12:30
Wow, Ocelaris, thanks. Very informative. I will keep it watered well to get it established, and I did apply some compost when I planted it near the south facing front of my house.
My Osmanthus fragrans 'Fudingzhu' was cut to the ground this past winter but it's coming back. It's a small plant but it bloomed last fall. Also have several varieties of Osmanthus xFortunei and heterophyllus that had no damage at all.
My four year old O. fragrans suffered a little dieback in the single digit temperatures we had several times this past winter....less than ten inches from the very top.
Ours was maybe three feet tall (a three gallon baby) when it was given to us and it was (prior to pruning after die back) over nine feet tall, a big, hefty beauty covered in flowers from the very beginning.
Ours is planted in heavy clay but fast draining soil, without amendments. It was watered deeply but infrequently throughout its
establishment period, fertilized very conservatively (if at all), and is kept well mulched.
It's in a location that receives full sun from sun up until early afternoon when it becomes shaded by the house.
I couldn't be more pleased with how it has thrived here. My neighbor bought it for us at one of the local big box stores. I've been pleasantly surprised that it has tolerated the cold temperatures we can have here.