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A long-time favorite for classic flowering shrubs is the Philadelphus coronarius, better known as the Mock Orange ornamental shrub. It has fragrant white flowers with a sweet fragrance.
You see them appear in late spring to summer with green foliage that sometimes arches.
Yet, it is a one-hit wonder as once it fades, nothing of significance remains, but it remains an intoxicating plant.
Plant Name: Philadelphus coronarius
Other Name: Mock orange, mock orange shrub, sweet mock orange, English dogwood
Plant Type: Shrub
Native Areas: Europe
Light Requirement: Full sun to partial shade
Toxicity: No toxicity was reported
Temperature: Cold tolerant
Growth: 10-12 feet tall and wide
Soil Type: Loamy, well-drained soil
USDA Hardiness Zones: 4-8
What are Mock Orange Shrubs?
Philadelphus coronarius, better known as mock orange plants, are deciduous shrubs with a dense yet rounded growth habit. These overgrown shrubs can grow as specimen plants with fragrant flowers.
The leaves are dark green with an oval shape and serrated. When in bloom in late spring to early summer, it has showy cup-shaped four-petal white flowers. The mock orange blossoms give a beautiful display.
Still, these shrubs have a quick growth rate and can grow two feet per year. The best time to plant mock orange shrubs is in the fall, but you can plant them in spring. The mock orange flowers resemble orange blossoms hence the name.
Some varieties have fragrant double flowers, while others have single blooms. The flowering shrubs’ lovely fragrance attracts pollinators to the garden.
When is The Best Time to Plant Mock Orange Plants?
You can plant mock orange philadelphus in groups to form a hedge for summer or as a specimen plant. The orange blossoms you can use as cut flowers. The best time to plant your mock oranges is in the fall to help them become established before winter.
Alternatively, you can plant them in early spring after the frost passes.
Tips to Care For Mock Orange Shrubs
When planting mock orange shrubs, they are not high-maintenance plants. Therefore, we recommend planting your plant at the same depth as you received it from the nursery in the container.
A fact is that the sweet scent in late spring fills the garden, and the flower looks like a miniature snowflake. With some pruning, it remains a compact shrub. So, let’s find out the care needs for growing mock oranges.
Recommend Soil to Grow Mock Orange
The mock orange philadelphus thrives in organic-rich soil. While these shrubs can tolerate different soil types like clay, loamy, and sandy soil, ensure they have well-drained soil to prevent root rot. Furthermore, they do their best with an acidic soil pH to neutral.
Watering Mock Orange Shrubs
Mock orange philadelphus prefers a moist soil surface but not soggy soil. These shrubs are drought-tolerant once established. Still, young plants need frequent watering until the root ball becomes established.
We recommend watering mature plants and young shrubs during dry periods to moisten the soil.
Lighting Needs For The Mock Orange Blossoms
Philadelphus coronarius @majadumat
You can grow mock orange in a full-sun location with afternoon shade. The plant needs four hours of direct sunlight daily. While they can tolerate partial shade, they might not bloom profusely as planted in full sun with part shade.
Temperature and Humidity
The wild mock orange shrubs with green leaves and large double flowers are hardy in zones 4-8. The mock orange shrubs can withstand cold weather within their zones and do not need winter protection.
Still, they will appreciate protection from the harsh afternoon sun during the growing season. So, where you find excessive heat in your region, please provide them with some afternoon shade.
You can also add a layer of mulch to retain moisture and keep the roots cool.
Fertilizing Mock Orange Shrubs
When planting your mock orange, you can mix some bark humus, compost, or manure in the soil. For an annual feed in late spring, add some compost around the base of the container plant and work it into the soil. We recommend avoiding the use of nitrogen fertilizers as it will increase new growth and can hinder the blooms.
Pruning Mock Orange Shrubs
An important note is that the mock orange shrubs will bloom on the previous year’s growth. Hence, you can prune them after they are done blooming. You can prune off the growth on stems that have finished flowering where you see the outer-facing buds.
Also, remove dead to damaged branches. When your shrubs look overgrown, you can remove the oldest stems down to the ground during annual pruning. You can cut the shrubs to the ground in spring if the shrubs are overgrown.
You can also remove the spent blooms to help your plant rebloom by pinching out the stem tips.
Propagating Mock Orange Philadelphus
You need not buy another Philadelphus coronarius if you already have one, as you can propagate your mock orange shrubs. You can take softwood cuttings in spring or hardwood cuttings in late summer.
Fill a small pot with fresh potting soil or peat moss, and ensure the container has drainage holes.
With sterile sheers, take stem cuttings from the parent plant about five inches long below a leaf node.
Remove the lower leaves but leave only two sets on the top, as the bottom section needs to be inserted in the soil.
Dip the cut end in a rooting hormone and bury it in the soil with the bottom nodes covered.
Ensure the soil is medium moist and cover it with a plastic bag to provide a greenhouse effect.
Place the container in bright indirect light and open the bag daily to allow air circulation. Keep an eye on the soil moisture and water as needed.
In about a month, you should notice new roots and leaves growing. Once you notice new leaves, remove the bag and wait until your plant grows taller. Then transplant it into the garden.
Mock Orange Similar Plants
In the Philadelphus genus, you can find different mock oranges to grow, as seen here:
Philadelphus aurea @brigitterieser
The variety has a compact growth reaching six feet tall and wide. It has gold foliage seen in spring.
The shrub is tolerant to cold and reaches up to five feet tall and three feet wide.
The variety can reach up to three feet tall and two feet wide. It blooms double white flowers with a lovely fragrance.
Philadelphus ‘Snowbelle’ @leonoraenking
These outdoor plants grow up to four feet tall and wide with double blooms and a gorgeous scent.
The shrub reaches six feet high with white and green variegated leaves.
While not all mock orange shrubs have famously fragrant flowers, we recommend buying one when the plant is in bloom to smell them before you buy.
Mock Orange Plant Common Pests and Diseases
This outdoor or indoor plant does not have many problems when grown in the right environment. Nonetheless, it can be bothered by mealybugs to spider mites, and you can treat it with horticultural oil.
When you have poor flowering, it can result from pruning not being done after the flowering. If the leaves turn yellow, it is a sign of overwatering, and does not do well in waterlogged soil.
Another concern is powdery mildew resulting from poor air circulation.
Frequently Asked Questions
You can grow your mock orange philadelphus in a large container. Ensure that it has well-drained soil and provides it enough sunlight to bloom.
The shrub can grow two feet a year and is a fast-growing plant. Still, you can keep the size compact with pruning.
The Avalanche has the most fragrant blooms of all the mock oranges. It displays white blooms with dark green foliage with an arching habit.
You can grow the mock orange shrub with lilacs, forsythia, and viburnums as an informal hedgerow or in an island planting in the lawns.
You can buy the mock orange shrub at Plantly to deliver to your door. So, you need not leave your home to visit a nursery to get this beautiful shrub in your garden.