Chimonanthus praecox

How to grow wintersweet (chimonanthus)

Find out all you need to know about growing Chimonanthus praecox in this detailed Grow Guide.

A table displaying which months are best to sow, plant and harvest.
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Plant
Plant

Do Plant in January

Do Plant in February

Do Plant in March

Do not Plant in April

Do not Plant in May

Do not Plant in June

Do not Plant in July

Do not Plant in August

Do Plant in September

Do Plant in October

Do Plant in November

Do Plant in December

Flowers
Flowers

Plant does flower in January

Plant does flower in February

Plant does not flower in March

Plant does not flower in April

Plant does not flower in May

Plant does not flower in June

Plant does not flower in July

Plant does not flower in August

Plant does not flower in September

Plant does not flower in October

Plant does not flower in November

Plant does flower in December

Prune
Prune

Do not Prune in January

Do not Prune in February

Do not Prune in March

Do not Prune in April

Do Prune in May

Do not Prune in June

Do not Prune in July

Do not Prune in August

Do not Prune in September

Do not Prune in October

Do not Prune in November

Do not Prune in December

At its best
At its best

Plant is at its best in January

Plant is at its best in February

Plant is not at its best in March

Plant is not at its best in April

Plant is not at its best in May

Plant is not at its best in June

Plant is not at its best in July

Plant is not at its best in August

Plant is not at its best in September

Plant is not at its best in October

Plant is not at its best in November

Plant is at its best in December

Chimonanthus praecox is also known as wintersweet. It’s the perfect name for a shrub with deliciously scented flowers that appear in January and February. The small, pale yellow, waxy blooms appear on bare stems and might appear insignificant. But they really do punch above their weight in fragrance terms. Wintersweet is a relatively slow-growing shrub, good for a medium-sized garden as it reaches a maximum height of 4m, and spreads to around 2.5m. Florists love wintersweet for cutting and adding to winter floral arrangements.

Advertisement

Take a look at our handy Chimonanthus praecox Grow Guide, below.

Related content:


Planting position

For best results grow Chimonanthus praecox in a warm, sheltered position, in full sun. Think about planting companions. You don’t want wintersweet to compete with other scented winter shrubs such as Daphne or Viburnum bodnantense ‘Dawn’. It’s also worth considering that in summer, the foliage of chimonanthus is definitely not its best feature, so it might benefit from being next to a showy climber or shrub. It’s a good shrub to plant near a doorway or by a path, to catch the delicious scent as you pass. It’s also good for training against a warm, south-facing wall.


Planting chimonanthus

If planting chimonanthus against a wall, make sure you dig a generous hole, not too close to the brickwork, incorporating plenty of well-rotted compost and micorrhizal fungi. Water regularly until established.

How to plant shrubs


Propagating chimonanthus

You can propagate Chimonanthus praecox by seed, but the plant will take a long time to mature and come into flower. To ensure reliable flowers from cultivated varieties it’s best to propagate by softwood cuttings or layering in summer.


Chimonanthus: problem solving

Chimonanthus praecox is generally pest and disease free.


Care

Chimonanthus praecox should be mulched annually with well-rotted manure or compost. Keep pruning to a minimum, removing dead, diseased or crossing branches.


Chimonanthus varieties to try

Chimonanthus praecox
Chimonanthus praecox ‘Luteus’
Advertisement
  • Chimonanthus praecox ‘Luteus’ – the flowers are larger than the species and completely yellow, without the purple inner petals. It blooms later in winter than original wintersweet, but its fragrance is not as strong
  • Chimonanthus praecox ‘Grandiflorus’ – larger leaves and deeper yellow flowers than the species, but with the central purple blotch