Holly Tea Olive (Osmanthus spp.) comprises a number of evergreen shrubs from Japan which are winter hardy in USDA zone 7- 9. ‘Goshiki’ (O. heterophyllus ‘Goshiki’) is a hardier compact evergreen shrub, which grows very slowly at 3-4 inches per year. It is long-lived, maturing to 5- 6 feet in height and 5 to 7 feet in width after many years.
The Japanese name “Goshiki” translates to “five colors”. Its spiny juvenile foliage mimics American holly (Ilex opaca). New leaves start out with a rosy pink tint, shortly becoming pale yellow and gold flecked over a dark green background. Tiny white flowers in late October are mostly inconspicuous, hidden within the leaf axils. Flower fragrance is very pleasant from several feet away. Tiny bluish black fruit are rarely seen in most years.
Goshiki prefers a moist, well drained and acidic soil. It grows in almost any garden spot from full sun to light shade. Utilize Goshiki in a low front or medium border, a low screen, and a short hedge. Its spiny foliage forms a sharp barrier deterrent.
Goshiki is winter hardy in the Southern Appalachian region (USDA Zones 6 and 7). Osmanthus is mostly pest-free and deer resistant.