Mock orange, Philadelphus, is an elegant, classic flowering shrub. It’s long been been a garden favourite for its pure white blooms, which are deliciously scented and reminiscent of orange blossom. They appear in late spring and summer against a smart backdrop of dark green, often arching foliage.
Mock orange is sometimes considered to be a one-hit wonder, as it fades into insignificance once the flowers have gone over. But, if you have room, it’s worth including in the garden as its flowers are so abundant and their scent so intoxicating, especially early in the morning and in the evening. The single-flowered varieties also attract bees and butterflies.
Mock oranges look good at the back of a mixed border but also do well in a large container, near a seating area or doorway where you can make the most of the fragrant flowers. Some compact varieties are available for smaller gardens, and plants grow well in pots.
Despite their delicate appearance, mock oranges are surprisingly tough, coping well in coastal and exposed areas.
How to grow mock orange
Philadelphus grows best in moist but well-drained soil in full sun or light shade. Avoid planting on heavy, wet soils or in heavy shade. Prune after flowering.
Growing mock orange: jump links
- Where to grow philadelphus
- How to care for philadelphus
- How to propagate philadelphus
- Philadelphus problem-solving
- Philadelphus buying advice
- Varieties of philadelphus to grow
Where to grow mock orange
Mock orange grows best in moist but well-drained soil in full sun. It looks good at the back of a mixed border.
How to plant mock orange
Plant mock orange in spring or autumn, when the soil is warm and moist. Dig a generous hole, adding a spadeful of well-rotted compost and a sprinkling of mycorrhizal fungi. Back fill the hole, firm the soil and water in well. Mulch with organic matter such as garden compost or well rotted manure to help retain moisture.
How to care for mock orange
To keep mock orange shrubs in shape, cut back the shoots after flowering, down to a strong bud. Flowers appear on stems from the previous season’s growth, so if you have to hard prune an older, established philadelphus, be prepared to lose out on the flowers for a year or so while it recovers. Your plant will need watering in dry spells for a couple of years while it establishes but after that, it should get enough moisture from rainfall.
How to propagate mock orange
Mock orange shrubs can be propagated by softwood or hardwood cuttings.
Mock orange: problem solving
Advice for buying philadelphus (mock orange)
- The size of mock orange can vary, so check the eventual height and spread of the different varieties
- Check that you have the right spot in your garden – philadelphus like a sunny or lightly shaded position and well drained soil
- You can buy philadelphus at garden centres, but for the best choice of varieties, visit a shrub specialist or buy online
Where to buy mock orange
Mock orange varieties to grow
- Philadelphus ‘Virginal’ – beautiful, double flowers with a beautiful scent. Height x Spread: 3m x 2.5m
Buy Philadelphus ‘Virginal’ from Van Meuwen
- Philadelphus ‘Manteau d’Hermine’ – a compact variety with double, pompon-like flowers. H x S: 75cm x 1.5m
Buy Philadelphus ‘Manteau d’Hermine’ from Thompson & Morgan
- Philadelphus ‘White Rock’ (RHS AGM) – an upright shrub with cascading stems of fragrant, semi-double blooms. It’s well suited to growing in a large container. H x S: 3m x 2.5m
Buy Philadelphus ‘White Rock’ from Thompson & Morgan
- Philadelphus ‘Lemoinei’ – an unusual variety with pale green leaves and white flowers that have a yellow centre. H x S: 1.5m x 1.5m
Buy Philadelphus ‘Lemoinei’ from Van Meuewen
- Philadelphus ‘Belle Etoile’ – a popular choice, this is a compact philadelphus with single white flowers with purple centres, appearing in late spring and early summer. H x S: 1.2m x 2.5m
Buy Philadelphus ‘Belle Etoile’ from Thompson & Morgan
- Philadelphus coronarius ‘Aureus’ – the foliage of this philadelphus is a limey-golden green when young, giving it an added zing. Flowers are white and scented. Needs shelter from strong sun. H x S: 2m x 2.5m
Buy Philadelphus coronarius ‘Aureus’ from Dobies