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Variegated False Holly*

Osmanthus heterophyllus 'Variegatus'

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Variegated False Holly (Osmanthus heterophyllus 'Variegatus') at Alsip Home and Nursery

Variegated False Holly

Variegated False Holly

(Photo courtesy of NetPS Plant Finder)

Variegated False Holly (Osmanthus heterophyllus 'Variegatus') at Alsip Home and Nursery

Variegated False Holly foliage

Variegated False Holly foliage

(Photo courtesy of NetPS Plant Finder)

* This is a "special order" plant - contact store for details

Height:  8 feet

Spread:  6 feet

Sunlight:  full sun  partial shade 

Hardiness Zone:  6

Other Names:  Tea Olive, Olive Holly, Holly-Leaf Osmanthus


Spiny, lustrous leaves are holly-like, but it's related to lilac and privet; the main attraction is its white variegated leaves; covered with fragrant, white trumpet flowers; more adaptable than holly

Ornamental Features

Variegated False Holly is covered in stunning fragrant white tubular flowers along the branches in early fall. Its attractive spiny oval leaves remain dark green in color with showy white variegation throughout the year. The fruit is not ornamentally significant.

Landscape Attributes

Variegated False Holly is a dense multi-stemmed evergreen perennial with an upright spreading habit of growth. Its medium texture blends into the garden, but can always be balanced by a couple of finer or coarser plants for an effective composition.

This is a relatively low maintenance plant, and is best cut back to the ground in late winter before active growth resumes. Deer don't particularly care for this plant and will usually leave it alone in favor of tastier treats. Gardeners should be aware of the following characteristic(s) that may warrant special consideration;

  • Spiny

Variegated False Holly is recommended for the following landscape applications;

  • Accent
  • Mass Planting
  • Hedges/Screening
  • General Garden Use
  • Topiary

Planting & Growing

Variegated False Holly will grow to be about 8 feet tall at maturity, with a spread of 6 feet. Its foliage tends to remain dense right to the ground, not requiring facer plants in front. Although it is technically a woody plant, this slow-growing plant can be expected to behave as a perennial in our climate if planted outdoors over the winter, usually regrowing from its base (crown) the following year. As such, gardeners should take into consideration that it will perform differently than it would in its native habitat.

This plant does best in full sun to partial shade. It does best in average to evenly moist conditions, but will not tolerate standing water. It is not particular as to soil pH, but grows best in rich soils. It is highly tolerant of urban pollution and will even thrive in inner city environments. This is a selected variety of a species not originally from North America.


* This is a "special order" plant - contact store for details

Hardiness Zone Plant Height Minimum Sunlight
Accent  Massing  Screening  Garden  Topiary 
Flowers  Foliage Color  Plant Form  Bark  Winter Value 
Ornamental Features