Elisabeth C. Miller Library

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Search Results for: Osmanthus | Search the catalog for: Osmanthus

Plant Answer Line Question

Keywords: Plant longevity, Osmanthus

What is the lifespan of Osmanthus? A client's 20-year-old, 12 ft. tall shrubs were once a hedge that one was unable to see through, but have become a walk-through wall these past couple of years.


According to SelecTree, a database produced by the Urban Forest Ecosystems Institute, most Osmanthus species have a longevity of 50 up to 150 years. A plant's lifespan varies, and urban trees and shrubs tend to be subjected to more interventions in the form of pruning, pollution, damage from construction, and so on. Also, the hedge has undoubtedly become woody with age.

Date 2018-05-04
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Plant Answer Line Question

Keywords: Berberis, Skimmia, Leucothoe, Fatsia, Euonymus, Elaeagnus, Shade-tolerant plants, Osmanthus, Aucuba, Viburnum, Shrubs, Prunus, Camellia, Buxus

Can you suggest some shade shrubs/low trees that could be used in the bottom quarter of a huge, years-old pile of yardwaste and branches that is now a 20 foot cliff? I have started with some vinca minor in the lower part but could use some ideas of some things to plant that might get 15 feet tall, evergreen, and grow in woods/shade or sun through trees.


The closest list I could find to meet your needs is one of evergreen shrubs that will grow in shade:

Japanese aucuba - Aucuba japonica vars.
common boxwood - Buxus sempervirens
camellia - Camellia sp.
gilt edge silverberry - Elaeagnus x ebbingei 'Gilt Edge'
Euonymus - Euonymus fortunei radicans
Japanese aralia - Fatsia japonica
drooping Leucothoe - Leucothoe fontanesiana
Oregon grape - Mahonia aquifolium
Burmese mahonia - Mahonia lomariifolia
longleaf mahonia - Mahonia nervosa
holly leaf osmanthus - Osmanthus heterophyllus vars.
English laurel - Prunus laurocerasus 'Mount Vernon'
Japanese skimmia - Skimmia japonica
evergreen huckleberry - Vaccinium ovatum
nannyberry - Viburnum lentago

Source: The Pacific Northwest Gardener's Book of Lists, by R. & J. McNeilan, 1997, p. 46-47

Date 2018-09-26
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Plant Answer Line Question

Keywords: Hardy plants, Osmanthus

Is Osmanthus fragrans hardy enough to withstand winter in Bellevue, WA?


Osmanthus fragrans is a borderline hardy shrub in our area. References vary in the hardiness they quote from zone 7 to zone 9 (Bellevue is zone 8). According to a gardener here at the Center for Urban Horticulture, "it takes a special spot for it to grow and thrive here in the Puget Sound area. The places where I've seen decent specimens and blooms are plants growing up against a warm wall or enclosed somehow by other plantings, buildings, or areas near pavement." If you have a very sheltered spot, for example a courtyard where you could grow it against a south-facing wall, it might be worth a try. Otherwise it seems to be very risky.

Date 2018-09-12
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Plant Answer Line Question

Keywords: Euonymus, Osmanthus, Ilex, Hedges

Can you all give me some recommendations for plants that will form a tight hedge? I want a fast growing plant that does not get more than 2-3 feet tall and 2-3 feet wide. I do not want boxwood. Evergreen with glossy leaves is preferable; flowers do not matter to me.


I collected some information from websites and a couple of books for you. I am making one other plant suggestion, and it is the last item.

Euonymus japonicus 'Microphyllus'

Ilex crenata 'Northern Beauty' is described on the website of Great Plant Picks

Ilex glabra 'Shamrock'
See Missouri Botanical Garden for information and an image.

Osmanthus delavayi
This can be grown as a dense hedge. It can reach about 8 feet, but takes pruning well. Evergreen and attractive all year. Small, oval, tooth-edged leaves. Fragrant tiny white flowers in spring. Here in Seattle it can take the full sun but partial shade is okay too.

Great Plant Picks is a local organization with information about plants that do particularly well in the Pacific Northwest.

Date 2017-12-08
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Plant Answer Line Question

Keywords: Myrtus, Rhus, Osmanthus, Screens, Arbutus, Ceanothus

We are looking for a good screening tree/shrub that is evergreen and interesting. The plant cannot grow over 6 feet high. We have very sandy soil, western exposure, and live in the Magnolia neighborhood. We would like it to be drought tolerant as well. I found Myrtus communis (Myrtle) and Rhus (Sumac)--I am not sure which variety of sumac would be best. I found the information on these plants in the Sunset Pacific Northwest Garden Book. I would love to get your advice on these, and if you have any other ideas as well.


Because of the height limitation of your site, I suggest primarily shrubs (rather than trees) that are evergreen and drought-tolerant.

Most of the Rhus I have seen growing in Seattle is of the deciduous type, but there are several evergreen varieties, such as Rhus virens and Rhus lancea. They are natives of Texas and Baja California. They will not be as hardy as the deciduous varieties.

Myrtus communis does well in seaside gardens although it can exceed your 6 foot height limit, reaching 10 feet or more (according to W. J. Bean, Trees and Shrubs Hardy in the British Isles, 8th ed., John Murray, 1973 and Top-Rated Evergreen Shrubs, Golden Press, 1983). The dwarf variety Myrtus communis 'Compacta,' would be too low-growing to act as a screen.

I would suggest Osmanthus delavayi, which has small, glossy dark green leaves, and very fragrant white flowers in March. It can eventually grow to 8 feet, but is easily maintained as a hedge or screen (see the website Great Plant Picks for pictures and information).
Other ideas would be Arbutus unedo 'Compacta' (Strawberry Tree). Or you could try Ceanothus concha, which has small dark green leaves and blue flowers. The California nursery Las Pilitas has information about this and other varieties of Ceanothus.

You may also wish to come to the Miller Library and browse the many illustrated books on shrubs and trees.

Date 2017-09-27
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Plant Answer Line Question

Keywords: Arbutus unedo, Pruning shrubs, Osmanthus, Quercus, Viburnum, Pruning trees

When is the proper time to prune Arbutus unedo? How much can be pruned at a given time? Same question for Osmanthus decorus, Viburnum odoratissimum, and Quercus reticulata.


According to The American Horticultural Society's Pruning & Training edited by Christopher Brickell (DK Publishing, 1996), you can prune Arbutus unedo in spring, as soon as danger of frost is past (that would be early April in Seattle), but keep pruning to a minimum. Some people choose to remove lower branches to create a taller trunk on younger trees.

The book Pruning: A Practical Guide by Peter McHoy (Abbeville Press, 1993) says that Osmanthus decorus can be clipped in late summer. If you want to limit its size without clipping, prune back long shoots to points far inside the shrub in late spring or early summer, after flowering. If the plant is overgrown, you can spread this type of pruning over two or three years, but do not do it annually. I am not familiar with this species of Osmanthus, but I do know Osmanthus delavayi, and grow it as a hedge. It is sheared after it flowers, and then probably two more times before winter. I did have to prune the top back quite hard last year, and this did not seem to cause any problems, but O. decorus may have different needs.

I could not find information about Viburnum odoratissimum specifically, but most pruning books have general guidelines for Viburnum species. Unless you do not mind losing the flowers, it is best to prune when flowering is done. If you are growing V. odoratissimum as a tree, then special pruning may be needed. George E. Brown's The Pruning of Trees, Shrubs and Conifers (Timber Press, 2004) says V. odoratissimum is somewhat tender, and may grow best as a standing bush with the protection of a wall, using ties in places to keep it close to the wall. The only pruning he mentions is cutting out older wood after flowering, and tying new growth back to the wall (if you are growing your plant in a site where you can do this).

According to the Peter McHoy book, oaks do not require routine pruning. Brown's book says not to prune oaks between mid-spring and mid-summer, as a means of protecting against oak wilt and beetle infestation. If you must prune, do it in winter.

Quercus reticulata is not a common tree, nor are the species of Viburnum and Osmanthus you are growing. Unless there are compelling reasons to prune harder, I would suggest sticking to the 3 D's of pruning: take out only dead, diseased, and disordered branches. Another general rule of thumb is never to remove more than 1/3 of the plant at one time. You might want to consult a certified arborist as well. You can find arborists through Plant Amnesty's referral service or the Pacific Northwest Chapter of the International Society of Arboriculture.

Date 2018-09-29
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Plant Answer Line Question

Keywords: Morella californica, Arbutus unedo, Trachelospermum, Osmanthus, Native plants--Washington, Screens, Wisteria, Viburnum

A friend asked me about screening two large propane tanks that, unfortunately, have had to be placed in front of their home on Camano Island. She mentioned wisteria to me and I shuddered. I've seen this plant do a lot of damage to trellis and home alike. Can you recommend, instead, an evergreen solution to this problem?


I am not familiar with the size and shape of propane tanks, but perhaps evergreen shrubs might work to screen them. A concern would be the proximity to the house, and any needed clearance for paths, doorways, and windows. I think you are right to avoid Wisteria. Does your friend prefer the idea of planting vines, or would shrubs be acceptable?

Here are a few suggestions for evergreen shrubs, with links from the local web site, Great Plant Picks:

Some good information is also available about plants for screening (from Virginia Cooperative Extension) and vines, especially evergreen vines such as Trachelospermum jasminoides, which might be a good solution. Local garden writer Valerie Easton on has written helpfully about hedges, as well.

Date 2018-09-29
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Plant Answer Line Question

Keywords: Pittosporum, Wind-tolerant plants, Morella californica, Arbutus unedo, Osmanthus, Pyracantha, Chamaecyparis, Arctostaphylos, Pinus, Cotoneaster, Ceanothus

I am looking for evergreen hedges that will tolerate a windy site. Do you have any suggestions?


Sunset Western Garden Book (2007 edition) has a list of wind-resistant plants. From that list, there were a few plants which meet some of your site's needs (evergreen, fast-growing, about 7-10 feet tall). They are:

  • Arbutus unedo (Strawberry tree)
  • Arctostaphylos (Manzanita)
  • Ceanothus
  • Chamaecyparis
  • Cotoneaster
  • Escallonia
  • Morella californica
  • Pinus species (you would need a dwarf pine for your size limits)
  • Pittosporum (many of these grow taller than 10 feet over time, but P. tobira might work)
  • Pyracantha

I don't know if it is tolerant of winter winds, but Osmanthus delavayi makes a nice, dense evergreen hedge with flowers, and reaches about 8 feet. It grows fairly quickly also.

Two good resources for finding more information on the plants above are Oregon State University's Landscape Plants and Great Plant Picks.

Also, I found an article (no longer available) on wind tolerance from Colorado State University Extension which may be of interest. Here is an excerpt about the physical characteristics of wind tolerant plants:

"When considering which trees and shrubs do well in windy conditions, examine the shape and thickness of the leaves, stems and branches. Wind-resistant trees usually have flexible, wide spreading, strong branches and low centers of gravity. Wind tolerant shrubs often have small, thick or waxy leaves or very narrow leaves (or needles), to help control moisture loss. Plant species that have large, flat leaves "catch" wind. These plants have a tendency for branch breakage when strong gusts blow, or if laden with heavy, wet snow. Evergreen (conifer) trees are an excellent choice, having needles and being flexible in high winds."

Date 2018-07-19
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