Fruitland Fortune's OsmanthusOsmanthus x fortunei ‘Fruitlandii’
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Osmanthus x fortunei ‘Fruitlandii’
Outdoor Growing zone
Full Sun, Partial Sun
The Fruitland Osmanthus is a rounded evergreen shrub reaching 8 or 10 feet tall and wide in as many years and growing to 20 feet in time. It has a neat, bushy form, needing no trimming, and its small leaves are leathery and rich green, looking a little like miniature holly leaves. In fall, and through winter in warm zones, it releases a wonderful fragrance from small white flowers among the leaves, perfuming your garden. Grow it around your home, out in shrub beds, as a hedge, or along the edges of wooded areas.
Full sun or partial shade both suit the Fruitland Osmanthus perfectly. Choose this variety for enhanced cold resistance in zone 7, and to grow in sheltered parts of zone 6. It grows in most well-drained soil, with some moisture, especially when young. Pests and diseases don’t bother it, and you can trim or not – it stays neat either way.
When laying out your garden, or making improvements, it is wise to give evergreen plants a prominent place in your landscape. They give structure, year-round stability and unbeatable lushness. A group of evergreen bushes that deserves a lot more attention for this are the Osmanthus, which are also called tea olives or false holly. Their neat rounded form, small glossy leaves, and especially their fragrant flowers in fall, winter or spring (depending on the exact variety you grow) are perfect additions to your garden. They grow best in the warmest parts of the country, though, which makes varieties that are more cold-resistant – like the Fruitland Osmanthus – all the more valuable. This selection of Fortune’s Osmanthus looks very similar to that plant, but its enhanced hardiness allows you to push it a whole growing zone further north. Planting Osmanthus in zone 6 suddenly becomes a possibility, bringing these lovely fragrant plants to millions of gardeners who have been missing out on their beauty.
The Fruitland Osmanthus is an evergreen shrub that grows naturally into a rounded, bushy form. In time it can become a broad, multi-stemmed tree. It is a sturdy bush with strong branches that doesn’t break or collapse, and it keeps its neatness when simply left to grow naturally. It will grow up to 12 inches a year under ideal conditions, reaching 8 to 10 feet in 10 years, when it will be 6 to 8 feet wide. Ultimately, untrimmed, it will grow to double those dimensions. The leaves are between 2 and 4 inches long, slender ovals, with a leathery texture and a glossy, dark-green color that is held all year round. On new growth and young plants, the leaves have a row of small spines down both edges, making them look a lot like a kind of holly bush. As the stems lengthen, and as the bush matures, the leaves tend to have fewer spines, and in older plants they tend to be completely or almost spineless.
Between September and February, depending on where you live and the age of your plant, you will smell the most wonderful fragrance around your bushes. You might not at first see where it is coming from but look a little closer and you will find clusters of small white flowers among the leaves. These release the most beautiful scent, which spreads widely around the garden, and is used in some of the world’s most expensive perfumes. Most of the flowers open through fall, but in warmer zones this bush will continue to blossom all through winter, whenever the temperature rises a little. Older plants bloom for longer periods. These tiny flowers are tubular, with four open petals, and since this is a male tree you won’t see the insignificant black berries sometimes seen on other Osmanthus.
The Fruitland Osmanthus is a natural choice for foundation planting, because it will grow round and bushy without needing constant trimming. How much better is it to grow a plant that is not only lush and green, but produces that wonderful fragrance, than to settle for boring evergreens that are simply green leaves, always needing trimming and tidying? Grow it as an informal hedge, or a trimmed one, in your shrub beds, or beside a path through a more natural part of your garden. This is also a great container plant, and once it grows too large, simply place it out in the garden.
The Fruitland Osmanthus is fully hardy in zones 7, 8 and 9, but also in the border areas between zones 6 and 7, such as Tennessee, and even in sheltered spots in zone 6. This makes it one of the most cold-resistant of all the Osmanthus. In zone 6 plant it in a place sheltered from winter winds, such as against a wall of your house, and mulch over the roots in fall to reduce ground freezing.
The Fruitland Osmanthus grows well in full sun, and just as well in partial shade. It will even tolerate light full shade, but the growth will be more open. Morning sun and afternoon shade are ideal during the summer in the hottest areas and in drier conditions. The perfect soil is moist, well-drained and slightly acidic, but this tough plant will grow in most soils, and once established it is moderately resistant to drought – this is definitely not a ‘fussy’ plant.
There are no important pests or diseases found on the Fruitland Osmanthus, and it really needs no particular care or attention at all. Water regularly until it is established and growing well, and some evergreen fertilizer in spring will help maximize the growth rate. It can be trimmed in spring, and again through summer and into fall if you wish, but trimming too often will reduce flowering, and it is naturally neat anyway.
The Scottish botanist Robert Fortune was responsible for bringing many new plants out of China and Japan around the middle of the 19th century. Many of his plants were found in nurseries, and that is where he found the shrub we call Fortune’s Osmanthus, Osmanthus x fortunei. It was independently introduced into Holland in 1856 by the German botanist Philipp Franz von Siebold. This hybrid plant was presumably created by Japanese gardeners at some time in the past, and it brings together the fragrant tea olive, Osmanthus fragrans, with the false holly, Osmanthus heterophyllus. The first of these is used to perfume tea, but it is a very tender plant. The second gives the offspring their spiny leaves. Fruitland Nurseries was a grower in Augusta, Georgia, on land that has been the Augusta National Golf Club since 1932. Some time before that the nursery selected a new plant from among plants of Fortune’s Osmanthus. It had slimmer leaves and it was much more cold-resistant. It was named ‘Fruitlandii’, or the Fruitland Osmanthus.
We love the gentle beauty of the Fruitland Osmanthus, but we especially love how cold-resistant it is, and how it let’s gardeners in zone 6 enjoy the wonderful fragrance and beauty of these plants. We have found some great young plants that will really settle in quickly to their new home at your place, but we couldn’t find many, so order yours now, before they are all gone.