These Shrubs Give Fall A Sweet Scent

Orange flowering osmanthus in full bloom

Elaeagnus is now in full bloom. The flowers are not showy, but the fragrance is delightful.

The cooler days are emphasizing the scent of fall’s most fragrant shrubs. Elaeagnus, known by many as the shrub with long shoots and gets very large, is at its best this time of the year. It is not the long shoots or unusual silvery brown leaves that make it special. It is the tiny flowers that cover the stems, and their fragrance is very sweet and strong. Now if you want to add some of these plants to your garden, know that they can eventually get to be 20 feet tall and just as wide.  But they can be kept under control as a large shrub with pruning out the long shoots that appear both spring and fall. Most of the time elaeagnus is used as a screen, and it can be a very dense one. It is easy to grow and is much fuller in full sun, but can get thin and lanky in shade.
In contrast to elaeagnus, the orange flowered osmanthus is easy to manage and is the most fragrant of the tea olive group. I have had one in my garden for over 20 years next to our courtyard door, and last year added another one to our front shrub border. Mine are in full bloom now, and the tea olive fragrance is delightful. Both are planted in somewhat of a protected location and have had some dead branches when the winter temperature gets and stays below 5 degrees for several days. This plant likes light shade and good well drained soil. My old one is currently about 7 feet tall and about 4 feet in diameter. It is a prince of a shrub, and while not readily available like elaeagnus, is can be found at a number of garden centers in our area. So with this being an ideal planting time, consider adding a bit of fragrance to your garden this fall.

John Floyd

John Floyd has been gardening--and learning about Birmingham area gardening--for more than 30 years. In addition to his day-to-day experience, John has degrees in horticulture from Auburn and Clemson Universities and was Editor-in-Chief of Southern Living.

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