In the Garden:
Western Mountains and High Plains
June, 2006
Regional Report

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Locate a sweet mock orange underneath a window to enjoy the fragrance of the blossoms indoors.

The Beauty and Fragrance of Mock Orange

This is one of my favorite seasons as the blooming shrubs are putting on a wonderful display of blossoms. Picking the right shrub for the right place can make a notable difference in your landscape. One of my favorite blooming shrubs that has unmistakable fragrance is sweet mock orange (Philadelphus coronarius).

The pure white blooms of mock orange are not only fragrant, they last for several weeks. You can invite the fragrance into your home in the evening and early morning hourse by siting one near a bedroom window.

The Lewis mock orange (Philadelphus lewisii) one of the only mock orange shrubs that continues to thrive and bloom at the Cheyenne Research Station in Wyoming. It can be grown at higher elevations and will develop into a rounded, upright shrub. Once established, it will produce an abundance of clusters of 1- to 1/4-inch pure white flowers in early summer. It's a native to the western US and was discovered by Meriwether Lewis.

Once established, mock orange is a dependable shrub that will provide years of fragrant blossoms. If the plant becomes overcrowded, prune out the oldest stems to rejuvenate the plant and induce new growth from the base. This will insure a continuous supply of flowering wood for future blooms. Remove as much as 30 percent of the older wood every two to three years. This plant is drought-enduring after it becomes well established in three to five years.

When To Plant
Plant container-grown nursery plants from spring through fall. If you purchase bare-root plants from mail-order nurseries, plant in early spring as soon as the soil can be worked.

Where To Plant
Choose a site with full sun for best growth and prolific flowering. This shrub needs plenty of space to grow and spread. Though it is tolerant of a wide range of soils, it performs best in well-drained locations. Use it as a background shrub or as a specimen plant. Just be sure to locate it where you can enjoy the sweet fragrance.

Choice Varieties
The littleleaf mock orange (Philadelphus microphyllus) is a slower-growing species, but it can grow to 6 feet. The pure white star-shaped flowers bloom in June and are pleasantly fragrant.

'Miniature Snowflake' is a more compact shrub. It sports double, white flowers in early summer with contrasting dark green leaves. This is a good choice as a foundation plant underneath a window, but keep it away from hot reflective surfaces on a western or southern exposure.

'Buckley's Quill' is also a more compact shrub with many clusters of fragrant, double flowers. The flower petals are narrow with pointed tips, resembling quills.


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