Mock Orange

MOCK ORANGE (PHILADELPHUS) SHRUB

Article by DavidMarks
The Mock Orange (Philadelphus) shrub originates from a variety ofregions around the world including Central and North America, parts of Asia andSouth-eastern Europe. They are deciduous (loose their leaves in winter) andproduce their flowers for about five weeks in mid June to late August dependingon local conditions. They are frequently planted by councils in parks and onestates for the simple reason that they look beautiful in flower but requirealmost no attention.

BEST CONDITIONS TO GROW PHILADELPHUS (MOCK ORANGE)

Mock Orange grow well on a wide variety of soils from heavy clay to lightwell-drained soils. They put down deep roots so are rarely affected bydrought. They do prefer a full sun or partial shade position if they are toproduce the best flowers.

If you are planting a new one it will need watering over the firstsummer but that's about it! They are very frost hardy and withstand windyconditions well. This makes them sound like ideal shrubs for almost all ofthe UK and this is definitely the case.


Mock Orange (Philadelphus) in full flower

Mock Orange (Philadelphus) in full flower

FLOWERING AND FOLIAGE

The flowers are produced freely and cover most of the shrub when in full flower. The most commonly planted varieties have pure white flowers.

The foliage is mid to dark green (see picture below) and unremarkable, this hardy shrub is grown primarily for its flowers.


Leaf of Mock Orange (Philadelphus)


Leaves of Mock Orange.
Click picture to see more clearly

They are readily available as potted plants from many garden centres andthey grow well in medium to large sized containers.


Mock Orange (Philadelphus) growing in a pot

Keep them watered well as with most pot plants, feed three times a year with blood fish and bone for a perfect potted shrub. In August gather up the stems and cut off the top third of the growth – pruning them really is that easy.

HOW TO PRUNE MOCK ORANGE (PHILADELPHUS)

The time to prune a Mock Orange is in August soon after it has finished flowering. Much could be made of the techniques to use when pruning this shrub but in reality a hedge trimmer or a pair of secateurs can simply be used to keep it in shape. That is what council gardeners do and it works perfectly. The shrub grows vigorously so they are normally cut down to 1m / 3ft high which will result in a shrub about 1.6m / 5ft high the next year when it flowers.
 


Close up of the Mock Orange flower

DIFFERENT VARIETIES OF MOCK ORANGE (PHILADELPHUS)

There are endless varieties of Mock Orange and four of them have been awarded an AGM by the RHS but in truth all of the common varieties make excellent plants for the small to medium sized garden.

Varieties which can readily be found include Belle Etoile (white flowers), Virginal (white flowers) and Aureus which has variegated foliage. Our recommended supplier of Mock Orange is Crocus. They offer a five year plant guarantee, top quality plants and excellent service.
Click here
to visit their site and buy online.

The Botanic Gardens at Cambridge are an excellent place to see Mock Orange in their natural habitat. Click here to visit their site. As far as we are aware there is no designated national Collection of Mock Oranges in the UK.

PESTS OF MOCK ORANGE

This shrub is one of the most disease resistant ones around. However they do have oneweakness, especially when grown in containers, that is black fly. They appear in late May to early June, just at the time that the flowers arebeginning to appear. See the picture below where they appear on several of the stems.


Black fly on Mock Orange (Philadelphus)

Generally, the black fly gather on the ends of stems and this makes them relatively easy to washaway with a gentle blast of water. Alternatively, systemic sprays can be used to kill them, followthe instructions carefully especially about the time of day day to apply the spray. Spraying in theevening limits, but does not entirely remove, the collateral damage to beneficial insects such asbees.

MOCK ORANGE SUMMARY

Below we list the key strengths and weaknesses of the Mock Orange.

 

HARDY 5 star hardiness rating(to -18°C)
   
CLAY SOIL Yes 
SANDY SOIL  Yes 
   
DRY SOIL No
   
SHADE  No, partial, full sun
   
EVERGREEN  No
   
EASY CARE 5 easy care rating
SMALL GARDENS  Yes
   
POT / CONTAINER Yes
   
FLOWERING  5 star flowering rating
   
FLOWER TIME June to July

Other "easy-care" shrubs in this series include
Choisya
, Hebes, Skimmia, Lilacs, Potentilla and
Rose of Sharon (hibiscus syriacus).