Tea olive in Knoxville are

RedBird_TNApril 15, 2011

Hi, all. I am considering planting a tea olive (osmanthus fragrans). It has been on my wish list ever since reading about it "A Southern Garden" many years ago. My question is two-fold: (1) Have you had success growing it? If so, any particular advice about growing conditions?(2) Are there any growing in the Knoxville area that I could drive or walk by? Many of the photos I've found are close-ups and it always helps me to see a plant actually in the ground, where I can see plant in it's entirety. Thanks.

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I'm not in Knoxville, but Nashville. We have had two fragrant tea olives for about 3 years in our yard. They are in full sun. The have done beautifully, probably trippled their original size when planting. Their blooms are so tiny you don't even notice them... but their scent is amazing! Sort of a lemon scent. We love them! Would love to have a couple more but can't seem to find any.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2011 at 11:52AM
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heathersgarden(6b/7a Mid TN)

Hi Red bird!

Have you actually smelled it? It is absolutely HEAVENLY!!! I've seen them for sale occasionally at the local Home Depots but they are considered marginally hardy here in Middle Tn. But you might have a warm microclimate somewhere on your property where it'll thrive.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2011 at 9:35PM
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Thanks for the replies. StacyLea, which months of the year do yours' bloom? Heather, I haven't smelled them - I've only read about the wonderful smell!

    Bookmark   April 17, 2011 at 10:32PM
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myrtleoak(z7 TN)

You can come to my house if u want. Mine is about 4 ft tall and does great. Sometimes a few leaves will burn in winter, but it always does well. As for the hardiness, it may have been considered marginal 30 years ago. With winter minimums up 10 degrees, there is no problem. When the new USDA map finally comes out (6 years late as we speak), I guess people will listen to me;)

    Bookmark   April 17, 2011 at 11:54PM
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red bird, I honestly can't say when it blooms... except that it is currently in bloom.

As you probably know, the blooms are so tiny that you don't really notice them. It is only when you walk by and that wonderful fragrance catches your attention that you realize it is in bloom.

It seems like it must bloom a few times a year, but since it's not in an area of the yard that I visit very often, I can't say for sure.

    Bookmark   April 19, 2011 at 9:49PM
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brandon7 TN_zone(7)

Some cultivars are hardier than others. Many are listed as hardy only to zone 8. Knoxville is officially zone 6, so if you add 10 degrees F to that, you arrive at an effective zone 7. Actually some parts of Knoxville are effectively low zone 8 now, but many areas (and especially outlying areas) are effective zone 7. So, in my book, this species is marginally hardy here, although much easier to grow than it would have been a few decades back, and, with cultivars that are hardier than the species. I think most of us could grow this, but if I were siting it, I'd site it in a warmer part of my yard.

    Bookmark   April 19, 2011 at 10:32PM
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myrtleoak(z7 TN)

Brandon, I think heterophylla is the species hardy to low zone 7. I *think* that the one that I have is this species. There is a small tree of this species at the UT trial gardens. I bought mine at Home Depot several years back from what I think was locally grown. It has proven very hardy and is doing quite well.

    Bookmark   April 22, 2011 at 1:43PM
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brandon7 TN_zone(7)

Yep, Osmanthus heterophyllus (much more common around here) is hardy completely down through zone 7, and is often listed as hardy down to somewhere in zone 6 (plain 6 or 6b). It should be a safe bet (at least so far as low temperatures go) planted just about anywhere here.

    Bookmark   April 22, 2011 at 11:57PM
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Thank you for the additional info. on tea olives. The comments on zone are also appreciated. Myrtle Oak, thanks for the offer to let me see your's. I will email you directly about directions.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2011 at 9:19PM
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