I have a sweet olive bush/tree in my backyard. The plant is 2+ years old and was in a 5 gallon ( 2 feet high) pot prior to planting in the ground.

The plant has grown and is now about 5.5 feet high and looks healthy. Last year I removed several of the stalks to reshape the plant and give it more of a tree look. The plant responded well to the thinning of stalks and produced many new leaves and flowers.

At this time the flowers are in full bloom but there is no fragrance. Last year there were fewer flowers and no fragrance which I thought was related to the low number of blooms. Will this tree ever have fragrant flowers? I had an old sweet olive at my former home and when it bloomed the flowers were very fragrant. Can I do anything to promote fragrant blooming in this new tree?

- Randolph W.


The amount of fragrance the flowers produce varies from day to day and through the flowering season. The most pronounced fragrance is in the fall when they first begin to bloom. Fragrance can often be detected well away from the tree at that time.

Although sweet olives continue to bloom through the winter and into the spring, fragrance is not as strong. Usually, if you get your nose close to the flowers you can pick up the wonderful fragrance. Fragrance is often lacking in spring.

The bottom line is that we have no control over this. Fragrance tends to be stronger and longer lasting in older trees than younger trees. So, this issue may well get better over the years. But, sweet olives always smell the best in the fall/early winter, and produce less fragrance in the spring bloom.

Dan Gill
Consumer Horticulture Specialist

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