Mock Orange

Consult any book on heirloom garden plants and you will certainly find Philadelphus listed prominently. They are a group of plants that exude old-fashioned charm. This hybrid of uncertain parentage from the 1900’s fills the garden mid-Spring through mid-Summer with an alluring and far-carrying scent of BUBBLEGUM! Much less cloying, in my opinion, than the citrusy smell of its cousins. The 2.5” white flowers form clusters of single with pink eyes. Forms a large, arching shrub with a relaxed form and handsome green leaves on dark stems. To 5’ tall and 6’ wide. Winter deciduous. DROUGHT TOLERANT once established!

Mock orange (Philadelphus coronarius) is a deciduous shrub that has a dense, rounded growth habit. It sports oval, serrated, dark green leaves and features showy, cup-shaped, four-petal flowers in the late spring and early summer. Mock orange shrubs have a fairly quick growth rate and can gain around 2 feet per year. They are best planted in the early fall but also can be planted in the spring.

The lovely, fragrant flowers of the mock orange are said to resemble orange blossoms, which is how the shrub got its common name of mock orange. They are rich with nectar that attracts butterflies and other pollinators.

Here, we feature five varieties that vary in size and climate tolerance but share the fabulous floral appeal of all mock oranges.

  • Common Name: Mock orange, mock orange shrub, sweet mock orange, English dogwood
  • Botanical Name: Philadelhus coronarius
  • Family: Hydrangeaceae
  • Plant Type: Shrub
  • Mature Size: 6 ft
  • Sun Exposure: Full, partial
  • Soil Type: Loamy, moist, well-drained
  • Soil pH: Acidic, neutral
  • Bloom Time: Spring, summer
  • Flower Color: White
  • Hardiness Zones: USA 4-9
  • Native area: Europe, Central America

Mock Orange Varieties

‘Aurea’: This variety is more compact than the main species plant, growing around 5 to 6 feet tall and wide, and it sports gold foliage in the spring.

‘Blizzard’: Particularly tolerant to cold weather, this variety only reaches around 5 feet high by 3 feet wide.

‘Miniature Snowflake’: This variety only grows to around 3 feet tall by 2 feet wide but produces especially fragrant double flowers (having extra petals).

‘Snowbelle’: Fragrant double flowers adorn this variety, which only grows to around 4 feet tall and wide.

‘Variegatus’: This shrub reaches a maximum height of 6 feet and sports white and green variegated foliage.

Mock Orange Care

Maintenance is generally very simple for mock orange shrubs. They don’t often have issues with pests or diseases. And established shrubs will only need watering during periods of drought. Plan both to fertilize and prune your shrub annually.


Mock orange shrubs like rich soil but they can tolerate a wide range of soils.


These shrubs prefer most but not soggy soil. Water mature shrubs during periods of drought, and water young shrubs to keep the soil lightly moist.

Temperature and Humidity

Mock orange shrubs are hardy to the cold weather in zones 4 through 8. and typically don’t need winter protection. They will appreciate some extra water and protection from harsh afternoon sun in excessive heat. Humidity typically isn’t an issue for these plants.


For annual feedings in the late spring, add a layer of compost around the shrub, working it into the soil. Do not use a nitrogen-rich fertilizer. It can significantly increase leaf growth, which can hinder or even stop blossom growth.


Mock orange shrubs bloom on the prior year’s growth. Therefore, to avoid missing out on flowers for the next year, prune the shrubs immediately after they’re done blooming. On stems that have just finished flowering, prune off growth above where you see outer-facing buds. Also, prune off any dead, damaged, or poorly shaped branches.


Propagating Mock Orange

Rather than purchasing a nursery plant, a much more cost-effective way to get a new mock orange shrub is by propagating via cuttings. Taking cuttings is best done in the summer when the shrub is actively growing. Here’s how:

Fill a small pot with a fast-draining seed-starting mix. Make sure the pot has drainage holes.

Using sterile pruning shears, cut a piece of branch that’s roughly 5 inches long just below a leaf node.

Remove the leaves on the lower portion of your cutting, leaving at least two sets of leaves.

Apply rooting hormone to the cut end of your branch.

Bury the cut end in your growing medium. Moisten the soil, but do not make it waterlogged.

Keep the pot in bright, indirect light, and make sure the soil stays lightly moist. Roots should form in about a month. When you feel resistance when you gently tug on the stem, you’ll know the cutting is ready to be transplanted to your desired growing site.

Blooming Mock Orange

Mock orange flowers are the star of this plant. The four-petal white flowers generally bloom in May and June in numerous clusters of five to seven, and they have a very sweet scent. They will readily rebloom year after year as long as the shrub remains healthy and in optimal growing conditions.

Adequate sunlight is a key factor in getting this shrub to bloom profusely. Full sun is best, meaning at least six hours of direct sunlight on most days, though the shrub also can live in slightly lower light conditions. Moreover, pruning out roughly a third of a mature shrub’s oldest branches will encourage new and more vigorous stems to grow, which in turn should produce more flowers. It is not necessary to deadhead the flowers (remove spent blooms).

Common Problems With Mock Orange

Mock orange is not known to have many problems when grown in the proper environment. However, inadequate growing conditions or care can result in some common issues.

Poor Flowering

Improper pruning is a common culprit for mock orange shrubs that aren’t blooming well or at all. Be sure to prune immediately after your shrub is done flowering for the season. Otherwise you run the risk of pruning off the flower buds for next year.

Also, check your shrub’s environmental conditions. If you’re using lawn fertilizer near your shrub, you might accidentally be giving it too much nitrogen. A soil test can tell you whether the soil around your shrub is too high in nitrogen.

Leaves Turning Yellow

Yellowing foliage on a mock orange shrub is often a sign of overwatering. While this shrub likes moist soil, it does not do well when waterlogged. Make sure your soil is draining well, and try putting a little more time in between waterings.

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