Burkwood’s sweet olive is a hybrid Asian shrub tougher and more beautiful than its parents. (Richie Steffen)

Burkwood’s sweet olive is a hybrid Asian shrub tougher and more beautiful than its parents. (Richie Steffen)

Great Plant Pick: Osmanthus x burkwoodii, Burkwood’s sweet olive

This hybrid Asian shrub is tougher and more beautiful than its parents.

What: Osmanthus x burkwoodii makes a great screening plant, for it grows in almost any position — from full sun to shade and in most soils — and it gets to a substantial size. The hybrid’s parents are the Chinese Osmanthus delavayi and the Turkish/Georgian Osmanthus decorus, which adds increased toughness to a beautiful Asian shrub. Its leaves are 1- to 2-inches long, mid-green and leathery. Its fragrant, white, tubular flowers open in April. Burkwood’s sweet olive has a strong enough constitution and large enough stature to support a clematis to add summer excitement — try “Duchess of Albany” or “Etoile Violette.” This shrub also pairs well with larger-leafed plants, such as rhododendrons and Mahonia.

Where: Burkwood’s sweet olive is very easy to grow in full sun to deep shade, although it will flower less in more shade. It prefers well-drained soil, but will tolerate sand and clay.

Size: This evergreen shrub will grow to be 10 feet tall and 10 feet wide when mature.

Care: It is drought tolerant once established, but would appreciate occasional watering during dry weather, especially if in a sandy site. It can grow openly while it is young, particularly if it is in shade. Light pruning can help keep this shrub dense in youth.

— Richie Steffen, Great Plant Picks

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