Fodingzhu Tea Olive. This is by far our number one selling plant on the internet. Some of our Asian customers have told us that the name 'Fodingzhu' means "pearls on Buddha's head." We had a group of Chinese professors visit us a few years ago and they corrected my spelling of 'Fudingzhu' which we have used since the beginning to grow this selection. The spelling should be 'Fodingzhu,' but they did verify that this is the correct interpretation of the cultivar name. In my opinion this is the most outstanding woody introduction for the Deep South in the last 20 years. Fragrant Tea Olive is probably the best known of our legendary horticultural gems with its delectable fragrance and flowering in every month with an "r" in it. But the only problem with the species, Osmanthus fragrans, is that one can smell it before one can see it, but maybe this is not really a problem. The flowers are just not that showy. But, with 'Fodingzhu', it can be seen before it can be smelled. When a mature shrub is in full flower, it can be seen a couple of hundred feet away. It flowers so heavily that its blooms literally encircle its branches as one can see from the photographs. Leaves seem to emerge from a bed of snow balls on each stem. This cultivar will also reach flowering size when only 6" high! We have some of the largest nurseries in the country knocking at our door to get a start of this selection. This plant can be grown in full sun or part shade, with no pest or disease problems. I was asked to speak to the Japanese Nurserymen's Association in 2006 near Tokyo, and I showed this cultivar in my talk. After three of us American nurserymen spoke, this was the number one plant of which they asked. One nurseryman gave me an order for 1000 right after the talk. This cultivar came from China, but the Japanese weren't at all familiar with it. Mostly what I see in Japan is the orange flowering form, Osmanthus fragrans aurantiacus. 'Fodingzhu' is not as cold hardy as the species and not nearly as cold hard as O. f. aurantiacus. Although there are several growing on the Clemson University campus in a very exposed site, and they seemed quite content as they were approaching 8' in height. Plant it with some protection from northwest winter winds if you are in zone 7b or colder. Our plants are grown outside here in zone 8 with no problems, even when in containers.
We are putting some 3 gallon 'Fodingzhu' in our online inventory, but in their growing containers they are over 4 ft. tall. Our largest shipping containers are 4 ft., so to facilitate shipping, we may have to prune back some of the plants to be able to ship them. So if you purchase one, you purchase it with this understanding.