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Osmanthus ‘Tian Xiang Taige’: The Fragrant Marvel of Sweet Olive

The Osmanthus fragrans ‘Tian Xiang Taige’ is a variety of sweet olive, an evergreen shrub or small tree. Unique to this variety is its ability to sprout new leaves or flowers within existing ones, creating a phenomenon of leaves hidden within flowers or flowers within flowers. Its fragrance is exceptionally strong, and it blooms throughout […]

The Osmanthus fragrans ‘Tian Xiang Taige’ is a variety of sweet olive, an evergreen shrub or small tree. Unique to this variety is its ability to sprout new leaves or flowers within existing ones, creating a phenomenon of leaves hidden within flowers or flowers within flowers.

Its fragrance is exceptionally strong, and it blooms throughout the year, outperforming other varieties of the four-seasons sweet olive, hence its name ‘Tian Xiang Taige’.

This variety boasts five major advantages: year-round blooming, large flower diameter, diverse flower shapes, varied colors, and a rich fragrance. It thrives in warm, humid climates, showing some cold resistance, but it does not tolerate extreme cold.

I. Basic Introduction

This variety is known for its year-round blooming, large flower diameter, diverse flower shapes, varied colors, and a rich fragrance.

II. Growth and Distribution

Osmanthusfragrans'Tian Xiang Taige’

Sweet olives are best suited for warm subtropical regions. They are primarily distributed and cultivated in the vast subtropical and northern subtropical regions from Nanling to Qinling and south of the Huai River, roughly equivalent to 24°-33°N latitude.

The climate in these regions is favorable, with an average annual temperature of 14°C-19°C, an extreme annual minimum temperature of -5°C–18°C, an average January temperature above 2°C, and an annual precipitation of 900-1800mm.

The soil in these regions is mostly yellow-brown soil, yellow-brown earth, yellow earth, and red earth. The vegetation is predominantly subtropical evergreen broadleaf forest.

In the regions within the range of the southern subtropics south of Nanling, the autumn and winter temperatures are relatively high, and the rainfall is concentrated.

It is difficult to satisfy the sweet olive’s requirements of a cool, humid climate below 24°C before blooming in autumn each year and a dormant period of 0°C-10°C after winter, which nurtures the flower buds for the next year.

Osmanthusfragrans'Tian Xiang Taige’

Therefore, sweet olives in these areas bloom less, have a short flowering period, and no longer occupy an important position among fragrant flowering trees.

Sweet olives are heliophilous, they prefer warm, humid climates, have some cold resistance, but they do not tolerate extreme cold. They like light but also tolerate shade, especially when they are seedlings.

They are not particular about soil types but prefer high, dry terrain with humus-rich, slightly acidic soil. Deep, fertile, moist, well-drained sandy soils are most suitable. They do not tolerate dry, infertile soils, saline-alkali soils or waterlogged areas.

Planting in excessively moist areas with poor drainage can lead to poor growth, root rot, leaf drop, and ultimately the death of the entire plant.

III. Features and Characteristics

“Sweet Scent Pavilion” is an evergreen shrub or small tree. Its crown is ellipsoidal with a medium density; the bark is dark gray with small elliptical pores. The branches grow upright, with an average of 2.5 branches per standard plant.

The average length of the spring shoots is 14 cm, with an average of 5 nodes per shoot and an average of 14.6 axillary buds per shoot. The leaves are dark green, hard, and slightly glossy. Early spring leaves are often elliptical, wider, and mostly entire.

The leaves are 6.8-11.5 cm long, on average 9.9 cm, and 3.2-4.8 cm wide, on average 4.3 cm. The length to width ratio is about 2.3. There are 8-10 pairs of lateral veins, which are neat, intersecting at a large angle with the main vein.

The veins are obvious on both sides. The leaf apex is short to long pointed, the leaf base is wedge-shaped to wide wedge-shaped, and there is a slight connation with the leaf stem below it.

The leaf stem is robust and curved, with an average length of 1.1 cm. Late spring leaves and subsequent summer and autumn leaves are often narrowly elliptical, with many short, sharp serrations on the edges.

“Sweet Scent Pavilion” can bloom all year round, but it is most prolific from September to April of the following year. The first and last inflorescences are umbels, and during the central period, they are mostly cones with robust general flower stems.

Flowers come in two types: normal and leaf-like. Normal flowers are common in autumn, winter, and spring. The corolla lobes are concave, ovate, and fleshy; the flower diameter is 1.0-1.4 cm.

The flower color varies with the season: in summer, it is milky white to lemon yellow; in winter and spring, it is orange-yellow to medium yellow. The fragrance of the flower varies with the temperature and is most intense between 15-20°C.

The other type of flower is leaf-like, which occurs mostly in summer, with a flower diameter of more than 1.5 cm, and some can even reach 3.0 cm. Leaf-like veins can be seen on the corolla lobes, with a variety of colors such as light yellow, yellow-green, or purplish-red.

IV. Cultivation Method

Cuttings

Osmanthusfragrans’Tian Xiang Taige’ is typically propagated by single-node, two-leaf cuttings. Fresh soil from the surface of the forest is collected and used as the bed for the cuttings to prevent weeds, control pests and diseases, and save on cultivation costs.

After the cuttings have healed and rooted, they should be transplanted into the field for further cultivation. The seedlings can reach a height of over one meter in the same year and can bloom the following year.

The main principle of cutting propagation is to embed the semi-mature branches of the current year’s osmanthus into soil or other substrates under certain cultivation conditions and utilize the regeneration ability of the plant to grow new osmanthus plants.

The key to successful cutting propagation is to choose the right branch, plant it correctly, and manage it properly after planting. Specifically, one should note the following three points: First, choose high-quality young mother trees and cut branches from the upper part of the crown.

Second, during the rainy season use the robust new shoots from the current year and treat the cuttings with rooting powder.

Third, manage the shading and moisture after planting. Do not let the cuttings dehydrate and lose leaves, which would hinder their healing and rooting. Usually, use a timed misting method.

Management

In cultivating osmanthus seedlings, due to their well-developed root systems and strong adaptability, bare-root transplantation can be employed.

Water thoroughly three to four days before uprooting the seedlings, and try to keep as many roots and as much soil as possible during the process. Most seedling transplants are done in spring, preferably from mid-February to early March when the buds are about to sprout.

After the seedlings are stable and sprout new shoots in the transplant year, weed control and light fertilization should be intensified to promote seedling growth. After autumn, stop fertilizing in time, control watering appropriately to enhance the seedlings’ cold resistance.

In the second year after transplanting, as the seedlings grow faster, in addition to weeding and topdressing, drought and flood control as well as pest control should be strengthened to ensure robust growth of the seedlings.

To shape a mature osmanthus plant, it needs to be cultivated in the nursery for 8-10 years, during which 2-3 transplants are required. Throughout this long-term field cultivation, attention should be paid to maintaining a complete tree shape.

The height of the branching point should also be determined early. Mature osmanthus plants have a high economic benefit, and the greening effect is also ideal.

Harvest

The main purpose of cultivating osmanthus is to harvest fresh flowers for further processing and utilization.

Harvest: As a spice plant that mainly produces flowers, the flowering process of osmanthus is quite rapid and short, often less than a week from the initial bloom to the withering. Manual harvesting is the main method in most places.

Harvesting methods include picking the entire branch, shaking off the flowers for collection, and picking directly from the tree. After harvesting, osmanthus should be piled in the cool shade under the tree crown and transported to a preservation area as soon as possible.

Timely removal of branches, leaves, and other impurities is crucial; avoid sun exposure to prevent evaporation of water and aroma oils, and store properly.

Preservation: After harvesting, osmanthus still has life activities and generates heat, so preservation treatment must be completed on the same day to avoid deterioration due to heat. Preservation methods vary depending on the purpose and storage duration.

Osmanthus can be soaked in a mixture of salt and alum; for brewing osmanthus wine, it can be soaked in edible alcohol; for making preserves, candies, and pastries in food factories, osmanthus can be preserved with plum sauce.

Bottle Cultivation

Osmanthusfragrans’Tian Xiang Taige’ is a famous fragrant flower species. If you prune it and cultivate it in a bottle indoors on the eve of blooming, the room will be filled with fragrance.

China has a long-standing tradition of cultivating pruned osmanthus in bottles to cultivate sentiment, express emotions, and beautify the living room.

Osmanthus branches are easy to cut before the buds burst open, preferably when the morning dew is not dry. The cut branches should be 30-40 cm long.

At the same time, remove the small flower branches with no or few flowers on the branch sequence, and thin out some of the densely crowded overlapping leaves to reduce leaf evaporation.

Immediately put the flower branches into a plastic bag, the bottom of the bag should be lined with some wet moss before sealing the bag to keep it moist.

After bringing it indoors, cut the base of the branch diagonally into a smooth mule ear shape, char it over an open flame to form a dark brown carbonized layer, preventing bacteria from invading the woody part of the cut branch wound, thus preventing rot and decay.

Generally, the flowering period of bottle-cultivated osmanthus is short, only three days in total, with the best viewing period being only one day.

If the freshly bloomed osmanthus branches are placed in a preservative, the bottle cultivation period can be extended to five days, the best viewing period to three days, and the color and fragrance will be enhanced. Of course, the ideal practice is to change the water every morning.

V. Disease and Pest Control

Diseases

“Sky Scented Pavillion” is a type of osmanthus tree that exhibits strong resistance to diseases and pests, especially when planted sporadically in natural environments; severe disease and pest infestations occur rarely. The main diseases of osmanthus include wilt spot, brown spot, black spot, and algal leaf spot.

Osmanthus wilt spot, also known as osmanthus leaf spot, is a primary leaf disease affecting osmanthus trees. The disease often originates from leaf edges and tips.

The initial spot appears as light yellow-green, developing into a semi-circular or irregular shape, and turns yellow-brown to red-brown with dark brown edges as it progresses inwards.

When the disease covers over half the leaf area, the leaves become brittle and sometimes curl up. General prevention methods include removing diseased leaves and burning them during winter to clean up the garden and reduce overwintering disease sources.

Strengthen cultivation management, increase fertilization, and water appropriately during dry and hot weather to enhance tree growth and improve disease resistance.

Pesticides can also be used for prevention, such as a spray of 50% methyl thiophanate 900 times diluted or potassium permanganate 1000 times diluted.

Osmanthus brown spot is another major disease affecting osmanthus. It mainly damages osmanthus leaves, causing the leaves to turn yellow and fall off, and seriously affects flowering.

In the early stages of the disease, small yellow spots appear on the leaves, which gradually turn into yellow-brown to gray-brown near-round blotches, or irregular shaped spots, with yellow halos around the disease spots.

A large number of tiny gray-black mold spots appear on the surface of the leaves. It usually expands rapidly during the rainy and hot seasons.

Prevention methods include removing diseased leaves and burning them in winter to reduce overwintering disease sources. You can also spray with 1000 times diluted potassium permanganate for sterilization.

Pests

There are many types of pests damaging osmanthus, including piercing-sucking pests, mites, leaf-eating pests, and boring pests.There are several types of mites that harm osmanthus, among which the citrus flat mite is the most serious.

Its larvae, nymphs, and adults suck the juice from the leaves, causing the affected leaves to show de-greening spots and massive destruction of chloroplasts. The leaves turn gray-yellow and lose their luster, causing a large amount of leaf fall when severe.

The osmanthus gall mite, also known as the osmanthus gall mite, damages the osmanthus leaves, forming needle-tip gall tumors that cover the leaves, causing the leaves to turn yellow and fall.

Prevention methods include clearing weeds in winter, spraying with a 20% acaricide wettable powder diluted 600-800 times, and using natural enemies such as ladybugs and lacewings for prevention.

There are also many species of mealybugs that harm osmanthus, mainly including white mealybugs, black prickly mealybugs, etc. Pesticide prevention includes: 1000 times diluted Thiamethoxam, 30000 times diluted Imidacloprid, etc., and natural enemies such as ladybugs and lacewings can also be used for prevention.

There are many types of scale insects that harm osmanthus, commonly including chaff scale and long white scale. During the maintenance period of osmanthus, it is not suitable to apply too much nitrogen fertilizer.

If pests are encountered, you can use 10% imidacloprid diluted 1500-2000 times or speed kill diluted 2000 times, and use natural enemies such as ladybugs.

VI. Value and Other

Horticulture

“Sweet Fragrance Pavilion” can be broadly used for landscaping in the south, and also used as large potted plants to create elegant, primitive, and exquisite bonsai for indoor display and appreciation.

The planting forms of osmanthus can be broadly divided into natural and regular forms. The natural form aims to imitate nature and emphasize changes, presenting a lively and elegant natural atmosphere with methods such as solitary planting, group planting, and mass planting.

The regular form is usually based on an axis line, arranged in symmetry and rows, emphasizing neatness and symmetry, giving a majestic and spectacular impression with methods like paired planting and row planting.

There are numerous types of garden plants, and when determining the companion plants for an osmanthus-themed park, the harmonious relationship between the two should be considered, including requirements for soil conditions, light, temperature, water, and nutrients.

Moreover, the branches, leaves, and fruits of the companion plants should enrich and enhance the visual impact of the osmanthus.

At the same time, care must be taken to coordinate and match plants for all seasons, creating a garden with a Chinese cultural flavor that offers unique scenery in each of the four seasons.

The contrast in plant arrangement should take into account: high and low, horizontal and vertical; bright and dark colors; dense and sparse; dynamic and static, fragrant and shadowy, etc.

This harmony and unity between the plant and its surrounding environment can create separation in garden spaces, making one feel as if they are stepping into a painting and experiencing feelings of openness, depth, tranquility, beauty, excitement, and freshness.

Bonsai

The “Sweet Fragrance Pavilion” osmanthus bonsai emphasizes the artistic conception and style, with varying heights and reliance on mountains and rocks for planting.

Whether using Kunshan stone or Guangdong Ying stone, a beautiful potted landscape can be created. “Appreciate the scenery, understand its true charm” – this encapsulates the true skill of the “Sweet Fragrance Pavilion” bonsai art.

It possesses natural beauty and poetic imagery, allowing those north of the Yangtze River, who cannot grow osmanthus, to enjoy the robust and vigorous branches, dense leaf canopy, and handsome and free-spirited blooms of the “Sweet Fragrance Pavilion” even in the deep winter.

The fragrance is intoxicating and refreshing, quiet yet invigorating, and pleasantly overwhelming.

Edible

Preserved osmanthus contains ingredients like salt, alum, and osmanthus tannin, tasting bitter, salty, sour, and astringent, and cannot be eaten directly.

It must be further processed based on the quality requirements of various osmanthus products to create superior osmanthus commodities.

Common osmanthus products in the market include dried sugar osmanthus, osmanthus jam, salty osmanthus, osmanthus in clear water, osmanthus extract, osmanthus wine, osmanthus tea, osmanthus jelly, and osmanthus walnut sugar.

Due to the high utility value of osmanthus and the rich nutrition in its flowers, the sweet and rich aroma of osmanthus is long-lasting and stable, with the excellent function of stimulating appetite and aiding digestion.

Therefore, it is often used as a flavoring agent in desserts and as a seasoning and spice in some dishes.

These foods include delightful fried osmanthus rice cakes, osmanthus red bean cakes, Suzhou-style osmanthus sugar rice cakes, mini osmanthus rice cakes, osmanthus lard rice cakes, osmanthus cookies, osmanthus porridge, osmanthus chestnut soup, osmanthus crispy skin mandarin fish, osmanthus duck eggplant cake, osmanthus almond tofu, and osmanthus yam, to name just a few.

Medicine

In addition to its widespread use in food, osmanthus can also be used medicinally. Because osmanthus is easy to grow and people enjoy planting it, it is easily sourced and has therefore become a good medicinal herb for folk remedies.

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Peggie

Peggie

Founder of FlowersLib

Peggie was once a high school mathematics teacher, but she set aside her chalkboard and textbooks to follow her lifelong passion for flowers. After years of dedication and learning, she not only established a thriving flower shop but also founded this blog, “Flowers Library”. If you have any questions or wish to learn more about flowers, feel free to contact Peggie.

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