Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Plant profile: Philadephus (Mock Orange)

Latin name: Philadelphus ("fill-ah-DELL-fuss")
Common name: Mock Orange
Originally from: North America, Central America, Asia and southeast Europe.
Blooms: Sweet scented white flowers from Spring to mid Summer.
Light: Full sun to part shade
Water: Rain is plenty. No summer water needed, but enjoys a little.
Height x width: 5' tall x 6' wide
USDA Zones: 5-10
Where to find in P. Garden: When you're sitting on the bench, it's to your right, by the arch.

Talk about old fashioned plants! Our Philadelphus is "Belle Etoile," a hybrid of uncertain parentage from the 1900s, is one of the most fragrant in the bunch, and has a longer flowering period than others, as well as a more compact habit. That said, she's still a blowsy gal with loose arching branches. I will prune her annually to see if we can make the form a bit tighter. Since Philadelphus flowers best on second year wood, the time to prune is right after they're done flowering. Happily, this year's blooms were plentiful, very long lasting and very sweet smelling.

They are named "mock orange" in reference to their flowers, which in wild species look somewhat similar to those of oranges and lemons at first glance, and smell of orange flowers and jasmine. The scent is strong enough to waft on the breeze, which is why I planted this by the bench. We tend to get a lot of car fumes wafting in from the freeway, so I hope this counteracts that smell a bit.

Philadelphus californicus is the Mock Orange native to our state, and we'd like to get a specimen for the garden sometime.

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