Mexican orange blossom (Choisya ternata) is a handsome evergreen shrub with attractive foliage and scented flowers, which are produced over a long period. Glossy evergreen dark green leaves are attractively divided into several leaflets and the foliage is aromatic when bruised – the variety 'Sundance' has attractive golden yellow leaves. Clusters of scented star-shaped white flowers are borne predominantly in late spring and early summer, sometimes with a second flush later in the season. This medium-sized shrub reaches a height and spread of 1.5-2.5m and is easy to grow when given a sunny, sheltered site. Shelter is especially important in colder areas as, although choisyas are hardy down to around -10°C, they do need protection from cold north or east winds.
How to grow and care for Choisya ternata
Plant in spring or autumn in any reasonably fertile, well-drained soil in full sun or shade. Mulch annually, in early spring and feed if the soil is poor. Trim only if required, in summer after flowering.
Where to grow Choisya ternata
Choisya ternata is an excellent shrub for a wide range of locations around the garden, thanks to its year-round good looks. Grow it as a feature plant or part of a mixed planting in borders, raised beds and courtyards. Mexican orange blossom thrives in fertile garden soils, so avoid heavy ground that is poorly drained or prone to water-logging. Site in full sun and shelter from winds.
How to plant Choisya ternata
Dig a hole and plant your Mexican orange blossom at the same depth it was in its pot, and firm around the root ball gently. Water well. Planting can be done at any time of year but on colder regions it's a good idea to plant in spring to help plants become well established before winter.
After planting and until the root system is well established, water occasionally but thoroughly during dry spells of more than several days. Thorough watering is important, so the moisture penetrates deep into the soil which encourages development of a good root system.
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How to care for Choisya ternata
Annually, in early spring, mulch the soil around the plant with well-rotted organic matter such as home-made garden compost or leaf mould, or chipped bark, avoiding contact with the stems. Apply a general fertilizer at the same time if the soil is low in fertility.
How to prune Choisya ternata
Trim only if needed to restrict or re-shape growth, or to shorten leggy stems. Prune in early to mid summer, immediately after flowering.
How to propagate Choisya ternata
Propagate Mexican orange blossom by taking cuttings from mid- to late-summer. Select cuttings of young, healthy, vigorous, non-flowering shoots, insert in pots of moist seed compost; and place in a heated propagator until new growth begins to appear. Pot individually into small pots and grow on to plant out the following year.
Pests and diseases of Choisya ternata
Once established, Choisya ternata is a trouble-free plant to grow.
Advice on buying Choisya ternata
- Choisya ternata is a popular shrub that is widely available from nurseries and garden centres, and online, usually in a choice of sizes and varieties
- Mature specimen plants are occasionally available but as Choisya ternata is a fairly quick growing plant, it's worth weighing up the benefits compared to the additional cost
- Always check plants for signs of disease and damage before planting