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Mock Orange

May 7, 2016


What is the name of this plant? I have heard English Dogwood but never the real name. It is actually invasive but I happen to have it in an area to control its shoots.


picture of mock orange blooms



The plant in question is commonly called English dogwood or Mock Orange.  The Latin name is Philadelphus.  It is a wonderful old-fashioned shrub that has arching canes with fragrant white blooms in late spring. It is one of the last of the spring bloomers to bloom.  If any pruning is needed, thin out some of the older canes at the bottom.  I have never thought it to be invasive, but it can begin to spread with age.


(March 2010)

QuestionCan (or should) Rose of Sharon bushes, gardenia bushes and/or mock orange bushes be pruned and if so, when is the best time to do it?

AnswerWhen pruning any plant there are three questions you need to ask before grabbing the pruning shears: why, when and how? Why do they need to be pruned—have they overgrown their space, do you need a specific shape or size, or has there been any damage to them. Once it has been determined that you need to prune, then know when is the best time. If they are spring bloomers, like mock orange (Philadelphus coronarius), then all pruning should be done AFTER they bloom. Spring blooming plants set flower buds at the end of the growing season. Pruning as soon after flowering will give them ample time to recover before they need to set more flower buds. If your plant blooms in the summer, like the Rose of Sharon (Hibiscus syriacus) they bloom on the new growth and should be pruned before growth begins—in late February until mid March. Pruning later simply delays the first set of flowers. As with all things there are exceptions to these rules—Gardenia or cape jasmine (Gardenia jasminoides) and big leaf hydrangea (Hydrangea macrophylla) and oak leaf hydrangea (H. quercifolia) bloom in the summer but set flower buds in the fall. Some newer cultivars of gardenia and hydrangea ‘Frost Proof’ gardenia and ‘Endless Summer’ hydrangea actually set flower buds in the fall but also set some flowers on the current season growth. Choosing a plant that fits the location will limit how much it needs to be pruned. If pruning of gardenias or hydrangeas are needed, do so immediately after the first big flush of flowers in the summer.

(May 2010)

QuestionCould you please help me identify the plant in the attached picture? I dug some up some sprouts from plants at an old home site several years ago. It is beautiful, but I have no idea what it is.

AnswerThe plant in question is a mock orange-- Philadelphus coronarius. It is an old-fashioned shrub with beautiful white flowers. Older varieties are quite fragrant, while the newer ones often have larger, showier flowers but not much in the way of fragrance. This spring the mock orange plants have bloomed the best I have ever seen. It is a great plant and a living fountain of white in late spring.

(July 2006)

QuestionI have a mock orange bush, approximately five feet tall, that has never bloomed. This is its third summer. It gets plenty of sun. Do you think it will ever bloom or should I replace it with another blooming plant?

AnswerWhen do you prune it, or do you? Mock orange-- Philadelphus sp. is a wonderful shrub that blooms in late spring and sets flower buds in the fall. If you prune it after July you can interfere with blooming. I know of no other reason why it wouldn't bloom. They are usually pretty durable plants with a reliable bloom provided they get plenty of sun, which it sounds like you have.

(April 2005

QuestionA few years ago I planted a mock orange, Philadelphus virginalis it says. Although it is still living, unusual for things I plant, it has never bloomed. Will it? Also, there is this plant around Fayetteville that resembles honeysuckle but is a woody shrub rather than a vine. It grows like cancer, so without constant whacking it takes over the yard. Any way to get rid of it?

AnswerHow much sunlight does your mock orange get? It needs at least 4-6 hours, and will do great in full sun. It should bloom every year in late spring. It sets its flower buds in the fall, so don't do much pruning after June. They are usually pretty reliable. As for your honeysuckle plant, there are shrub honeysuckles, but they are not usually invasive. You may want to take a plant sample to your county agent. The best way to kill plants is to get as much of the original plant dug up, then spray any remaining sprouts with a glyphosate (Round-up) product. The larger and woodier the plant, the harder it is to kill.

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