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The sweet olive brings perhaps the best fragrance of any plant to our residential gardens and landscapes. It grows into a large evergreen shrub or small tree, 12-15 ft. tall, 8-10 ft. wide. Clusters of tiny cream colored flowers with abundant fragrance occur in both spring and fall.

Sweet olive is native to China and Japan where it grows with cool and moist winters and warm summers. Throughout the Inland Empire it grows best in loam soils, with regular moisture and protection from hot sun exposures. The fragrance of sweet olive flowers is often described as a blend of citrus and gardenia. It is commonly planted in background areas to provide screening and where flower fragrance can drift throughout the garden. Older specimens can be pruned into an attractive low branching tree; young plants are sometimes clipped as a hedge.

Water Needs

The sweet olive grows well throughout the Inland Empire with normal winter rainfall and moderate amounts of summer water. Regular deep watering is recommended from spring through fall. It should be noted there are several winter months marked by an asterisk (*) when rains can provide sufficient moisture and irrigation is not needed. The high and low range of moisture indicates it can grow with varying amounts of water; higher amounts of water will result in stronger springtime flowering performance and summer foliage character.

Irrigation Schedule and Graph

Moderate Water Use Plants

Irrigation Schedule 4

  Jan* Feb* Mar* Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov* Dec*
Runs per Month 0x to 3x 0x to 3x 0x to 3x 2x to 3x 2x to 3x 3x to 4x 3x to 4x 3x to 4x 2x to 3x 2x to 3x 0x to 3x 0x to 3x
Inches per Run 1" 1" 1" 1" 1" 1" 1" 1" 1" 1" 1" 1"
Inches per Month 0" to 3" 0" to 3" 0" to 3" 2" to 3" 2" to 3" 3" to 4" 3" to 4" 3" to 4" 2" to 3" 2" to 3" 0" to 3" 0" to 3"

Range of supplemental summer water: 17"-24"
Range of supplemental winter water: 0"-15"

  Jan* Feb* Mar* Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov* Dec*
For more information on how to use this Irrigation Schedule and Graph, follow this link.

For information how to calculate your irrigation system’s schedule and precipitation rate, please follow this link.

Plant Properties

Plant Type: Shrub
Foliage Character: Evergreen
Habit: Upright
Growth Rate: Moderate
Height: 12 ft. - 15 ft.
Width: 8 ft. - 10 ft.
Water Needs: Moderate 4
Foliage Color: Medium green
Flower Color: Cream
Flower Season: Spring, Fall
Soil Adaptations: Loam, Clay
Exposure Adaptations: Morning sun, Moderate shade, Partial sun
Function: Specimen, Screening, Foundations, Background plant, Fragrant flowers, Hedge


A low maintenance shrub that can be pruned up into a small, low branching tree (by removing lower branches), once it has reached sufficient size (4)



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