Anyone grow Osmanthus Fragrans outdoor in Z7?

March 24, 2007

Just bought 3 Osmanthus Fragrans trees. The nursery said they were cold hardy here (central VA), but I have my doubts.

I bought 3 cold hardy Gardenia (August Beauty) last Spring from the same nursery. They were supposed to be cold hardy to 0-10F. In Feb, we had few days in single digit. One got burned leaves really bad but is still alive, and the other two are dead now.

I am afraid to put OSMANTHUS outside although they are supposed to be cold hardy to Zone 7. My area is more like Zone 7A. I am close to Blue Ridge Mountain.



Comments (34)

  • Zinia

    I have one growing under some pine trees. It has been there several years. I cleaned up around it killing some vines. It has been in bloom much of the time since last fall (mild winter). We live 20 miles southeast of Raleigh, NC.
    I hope yours does well for you.

  • jimshy

    A lot can depend on the location you plant them in -- do you have a place near a south or west-facing wall that's sheltered from winter winds? Since they flower in autumn/winter you probably want them near a door or window for easy sniffing.

    Osmanthus can definitely suffer from drying sun and cold winds, especially when it's putting out flowers, so Zinia's site under tall pines is a smart one. They also definitely prefer soil on the acidic side, so the pine needles make an excellent mulch.

    It's impossible to say whether your gardenias might have survived under different conditions, but keep in mind ANY new plant needs protection during its first few winters; it doesn't have a lot of roots and is still adjusting to new conditions, so you may have to focus on keeping your osmanthus's well-protected by a burlap wrap or similar winter protection, even if it means little or no flowers that year.

    Hope all this helps and doesn't put you off -- with a good protected site and some care early on, they should work fine for you in your area!


  • longriver

    Yes, I have all my Osmanthus outdoor either in ground or in pots. But my area is one of the best area for gardening. Weather is always the joy not the issue here. However I know that most Osmanthus is rather hardy to -5 to -10 degrees C. When the plant is young, it needs good protection from cold. The protection shold be still in place during the winter for first few years.

    All my osmanthus cultivars are of Chinese origin. The flower quality and fragrance are much more desirable. To me it is worthy all the effort to grow it even from rooting and the time of waiting. I use local Osmanthus cultivar only as understock for grafting. Hope you can find good Osmanthus cultivars from nursery suppliers.

  • longriver

    Your previous Osmanthus could be not quite established and the root would be possible too shallow. The winter sun light ( even Osmanthus likes sunlight) would cause bad dehydration to the plants. Because the ground would be possible frozon, no liquid water to enter the root.

    Therefore besides winter protection of air-cushion sheet wrapping and thick mulching. The plant need to be covered by a sheet from direct sunlight during cold winter for the first 2-3 years.

    Hope for the best.

  • bamadave

    They may be fine in many Winters, but eventually one will damage them... especially if it gets to the lower singles or below zero. You may want to try Osmanthus x fortunei, which is a hybrid between Osmanthus fragrans and the hardier Osmanthus heterophyllus. The Fall fragrance is similar, but the shrub is more solidly hardy in Zone 7. The selection 'Fruitlandii' has very beautiful foliage.

    For Gardenias - I would try 'Grif's Select' and 'Shooting Star.' Both of these are hardier, single-flowered forms that should be more reliable in your area.

    'August Beauty' can likely take dips into the single digits, but if it follows a period of warm weather and the plant broke dormancy, that may cause damage. Also, the length of the freeze is important as well. Zone 7 areas of the deeper parts of the South are not as prone to long periods of below freezing temperatures, which is why most Gardenias grow well in zone 7 sections of Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, etc. whereas they may be less reliable in Zone 7 Mid-Atlantic.

  • DYH

    I'm in Chapel Hill, NC and have been growing Osmanthus Fragrans for years (previous home and here). I've never lost one to anything. In fact, my husband always tells me to buy more because they're so reliable for us.

    As for August Beauty gardenia, I fell for 6 of those last fall and planted them in our new fragrance garden. Out of the 6, 3 are totally damaged, 2 are partially damaged. Only one looks good. :-( I thought I had them protected well enough, but I guess the warm winter followed by the cold February was too much. They look desicated to me, but the branches are flexible, so I'll see what happens.

  • duckytheloon

    Hello, everyone! This is my first post! Now, on to making a fool of myself... :-)

    Judging by all the posts I've read about growing Osmanthus fragrans in zone 7, zone 6 is most assuredly evil. Not that it hasn't already proven that many times before, case in point being the last few days (mid-80s weirdly plummeting to snow and low 20s, agh).

    But seriously, would I have absolutely no hope or prayer of growing (specifically) Osmanthus fragrans f. aurantiacus outdoors here? I don't have the space to grow such a large shrub in a pot indoors, but I would very much like to have it if at all possible. I lived in Japan for a while, and I just fell in love with the kinmokusei, as it is called there.

    I have read that "aurantiacus" is the most cold-hardy form of the species. I'm not interested in the other Osmanthus species, just this one species and one form. If I sheltered it, covered it, gave it pep talks, and did everything short of standing next to it with a hair dryer all winter long, do you think it might make it?

    Yeah, I know, but I just had to ask!

  • kaihui

    Thank you all so much everyone.

    I bought 3 Osmanthus Frangrance(don't know what exactly they are) from our local Home Depot. I was thrilled to see them becasue I didn't expect local HD would carry this. I put 2 in pots one on the side of my house facing South East. I will see how they do.

    Those 3 were blooming when I bought them 3 weeks ago. a littel weird since in China I saw Osamnthus only blooming in Fall. The color of those flowers and the frangrance were pale compared to what I had in China, but I was still thrilled.

  • longriver

    The owner of a local nursery near my house told me that O. aurantiacus sold in U S is hardly producing any flowers on his 7 feet plant. I hope to hear the second opinion from the web.

    The reddish orange color is more advanced Osmanthus in the plant evolution. The bright color is compensated by less fragrance for natural pollination. I have only one cultivar called 'Intoxicated Complexion Red' in lighter red coloration. There are many deeper red cultivars in China, atleast over 20 cultivars in this group.

    I shall seek advice from universities in China to find out what is the most cold hardy O fragrance?

  • kaihui

    "I shall seek advice from universities in China to find out what is the most cold hardy O fragrance?"

    Hi, Long River,
    Please do!

    I miss that smell really bad.

    The Osmanthus Fragrans I bought from my local nursery has pale yellow collor, and the frangrance is much lighter than what I had in China.

    I will be very interested to know if you find some cold hardy ones. My email is huikh2r@yahoo.com



  • kaihui

    Well, I guess the chance for those 3 Osmanthus Frangrance I bought recently to survive the winter here is not great.

    We had a major cold spell last week. The low dropped to 20s. The one I planted in ground already had some leaf burn. Our winter here can drop to single digit.

  • geostv

    I lived in Portland, OR for many years and grew aurantiacus,fragrans, and a cultivar named san jose in an exposed area. I was at about 700 feet in Portland (z6 i think) and the shrubs never had problems or damage in ice storms or hard freezes (lowest temp i recorded was 16f.)
    Now i live in guatemala and haven't seen an osmanthus since i got here! Oh well, fortunately, there is a long line of mature champacas lining the driveway so it all balances out!

  • ttuccinardi_comcast_net

    I have only one Osmanthus frangrans which I planted 4 or 5 years ago. It is growing under some oaks in the back yard, broken sun light at most. Soil is pretty good with lots of hard wood organic matter from years of mulching. It grows 4 inches maybe each year and is not obviously affected by our winters here. I have never gotten flower one on this plant. I hear so much about how wonderfully fragrant they are, and you wouldn't know it by me. Any helpful hints out there?

  • ttuccinardi_comcast_net

    I have only one Osmanthus frangrans which I planted 4 or 5 years ago. It is growing under some oaks in the back yard, broken sun light at most. Soil is pretty good with lots of hard wood organic matter from years of mulching. It grows 4 inches maybe each year and is not obviously affected by our winters here. I have never gotten flower one on this plant. I hear so much about how wonderfully fragrant they are, and you wouldn't know it by me. Any helpful hints out there?

  • mehitabel

    The general rule of thumb about blooming on plants is that no blooms means not enough light. Move it into a place with at least a half-days sun.

  • ermazi

    I have not seen this topic for years.Sorry. Let go over some NOT WELL KNOWN knowledge about Osmanthus Frag.

    1.the leaf of O. F can take as low as 10f without serious damage. Lower temperature will burn the leaf, but the twig can take as low as 0f or even lower Temp.

    2.But the root system stop providing water at some low temperature for two reason: root system does not function well at about 0-10f, or root cannot touch liquid water.

    3. In most cases, the direct case that result in O. F. die is dry out of the leaf and twigs.

    So, if we can solve those problem, we can grow O. frag well in Z7 or even Z6 as I am doing now.

    Solution: The first improvement is provide a better root system. In China, professionals use a special stock that enable the O. F. to bear 10C (not 10f) lower temperature. we have very similar natural stock tree here: Chionanthus Virginicus. This stock's root system will work for Osmanthus in winter.

    However, even chionanthus cannot provide enough water for all the green leafs in dry winter wind and direct sunlight. A good place such as south of building and shade for morning sun is very important.

    I did all that, set shade in top of the plant, and the O. F. have already been in my back yard for one winter. I am in New Jersey, Z6.

  • restoner

    I wrapped this in burlap last winter (supported by bamboo stakes) and it survived. It was a mild winter. It has been blooming off and on for the past few months. Took this picture today.

  • lou_spicewood_tx

    From nucar.com-

    If one insists on trying to grow a plant outside of its natural hardiness range, one should site it where it will get as little cold winter winds as possible. The extremely cold temperatures can "freeze-dry" a plant. When a plant remains frozen, its stems cannot transport water upward. The leaves and stems simply dry out or freeze dry. This is how freeze dried coffee is made. Water can go from its solid frozen state to a gaseous state without passing through the liquid state. This freeze drying can damage or actually kill a plant. One help in such situations is to spray your plant with one of the readily available "anti-transpirants" such as Cloud Cover� or Wilt Pruf�. There are many others on the market. These materials are like a liquid plastic which will coat the plant and prevent excessive moisture loss when frozen. We love to use these to spray a plant when it is being transplanted. They greatly facilitate transplanting larger plants or planting out of season like during warm summer months.

    Here is a link that might be useful: How to care for osmanthus during cold weather

  • Robert (zone 7a, Oklahoma)

    Awesome information! Thank you for sharing, Lou!

  • maryoverman

    Osmanthus fragrans is quite hardy in Durham, NC with protection, but for Gardenias plant the hardy type like Kleim's Hardy Gardenia. Not as beautiful in my opinion as August Beauty, but they survive a bit better.

  • ermazi

    With protection, some osmanthus frag. can live in Z6b, if grafted on choinanthus.

    And, "frost free" may be the hardest gardenia. I have a few in my yard for more than 5 years without protestion. They grow fat and are flowing now. The location is close to Newark NJ, just in between Z6a and Z6b.

  • Dave in NoVA • N. Virginia • zone 7A

    Wow! This is an old thread. I just wanted to add a few things.

    Osmanthus x fortunei, O. x fortunei 'Fruitlandii' and 'San Jose' are the best bets for October fragrance in zone 7A in the Mid-Atlantic. Further South, O. fragrans will have an easier time due to higher daytime warmups, etc.

    Osmanthus americanus, Osmanthus armatus, Osmanthus heterophyllus, and Osmanthus x burkwoodii are also do-able in upper zone 7a. Bloomtime and fragrance is different though.

    As for Gardenias in zone 7a: I've had great luck with 'Frost Proof' and get flowers every year. They may initially dieback their first winter, but once plants 'dig in' and get established, they'll do much better. Even so, plant in sheltered spot. Winter sun in 7A may bronze foliage a bit.

    Also, I've killed 'August Beauty' here too, but many people are having great success with 'Chuck Hayes' in zone 7A, if you can find it.

  • jujujojo_gw

    They are in blooming season. The scent is sweet, intense and drifting far, but cannot be conveyed via the webpage. Thanks to the GW improvement, I can put the Asian Characters in :)

    Tianxiang Taige (天香臺閣) - a cultivar of 4-season O F with profusion of largest flowers.





    Rixiang Gui (日香桂) - a newly discovered natural mutation with long blooming season and intense scent.



    Yin gui (銀桂) - a primitive silver cultivar, known to occasionally produce O F olives.





    The location is Chongqing, Sichuan Province, China. It seems they grow pretty well :) The river is the Long River (Yangtze River). Imagine the miles and miles of sweet scent.











    There are also red cultivars - Dan Gui (丹桂).










  • restoner

    jujujojo - I will take a picture tomorrow to show you what a real osmanthus looks like (just joking, yours are amazing).

  • tolip


    Very nice pics.

    Which one has the best fragrance?

  • fragrant2008

    Jujujojo amazing photos it must smell heavenly love the Rixiang Gui like a bonsai version very beautiful

  • blycox

    I have a little Osmanthus fragrans 'Fundingzhu' shipped from Logee's this past spring and grown in a pot over the summer. I welcome suggestions about the best way to overwinter it; inside, since I'm 7a. Thanks!

  • ermazi

    I got Rixing Gui from China last fall, and dupulicated one in NJ. The Rixing's best character is it really keeps the good smell, while Fodingzhu does not smells as powerful as Rixing.

  • restoner

    My Osmanthus fragrans 'Fundingzhu' was completely defoliated by the polar vortices this past winter. Thought it was a goner, but saw new sprouts today. Yay!

  • ericta

    Hi all,
    My Osmanthus has this brown tipped leaves... Please help.
    Thank you

    Here is a link that might be useful: link photo

  • ermazi

    Ericta,your plant, I think, has got some damage on its root sysytem. This could be resulted by two thing, 1. you put too much water so the soil in pot is too wet that the root system cannot breath well. 2.Osmanthus like acidic soil, and in most cases, after long time of watering, the soil's ph become higher, that also damage root.

  • ermazi

    The Rixiang on my backyard, has been blooming to now. After the long and cold winter last year, it lost almost all leaves but soon recoved during spring.

  • HU-115996753

    My Gold Osmanthus is 20 yrs old, 2 trees

    We have had a low of 7 degrees with not damage

    They do come out early in spring and new growth gets nipped some by frost but not a problem

    Lie are approx

    20 feet tall and 13 ft wide. Just bloomed in Oct.

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