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Diggin' It

A new mock orange reblooms

Beloved for its sensational spicy fragrance, mock orange is making a comeback, with many exciting new cultivars. One reblooms in late summer.

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They like full sun, although they tolerate light shade and well-drained soil.  As a bonus, mock orange has no serious pest or disease problems, though there is a bit of susceptibility to aphids and leaf miners, which is more of a nuisance than a threat.

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Mock orange blooms on the previous year’s growth; therefore, prune immediately after it blooms.  When it starts to look a bit overgrown and rangy, prune the oldest one-third of the branches down to ground level; following the same regime for the next two years.  After three years, the shrub should, once again, be gorgeous.

One way to compensate for mock orange’s short bloom time and duller foliage – and an excellent way to bring color into the garden, if not to fool unsuspecting friends – is to train a small-flowered, long-blooming clematis vine to scramble through its branches.

Obviously, Snow White Sensation is not the only new girl in the garden in the world of mock orange. There are many others. 

Some recent introductions have larger blossoms, others are shorter in size or more compact, making them perfect choices for small gardens, large containers, or planting at the front of the border.

Also, many of the newer introductions are fast growing and form a dense mound of gently cascading branches. They are also more heat-, cold-, and drought-tolerant.

One caveat

Fragrance is, as you can imagine, the major selling point for purchasing a mock orange shrub.  Unfortunately, not all cultivars are equally fragrant.  Thus, one of the best times to buy mock orange is when it’s in bloom at the nursery – that way you can let your nose do the choosing.

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Betty Earl, the Intrepid Gardener, is one of more than a dozen gardening experts from various parts of the country who blog regularly at Diggin' It. Her latest book is 'Fairy Gardens: A Guide to Growing an Enchanted Miniature World.'  She writes a regular column for Chicagoland Gardening Magazine and The Kankakee Journal and numerous articles for Small Gardens Magazine, American Nurseryman, Nature’s Garden, and Midwest Living Magazine, as well as other national magazines. She is a garden scout for Better Homes and Gardens and a regional representative for The Garden Conservancy. To read more by Betty here at Diggin' It, click here.

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