How to Plant and Grow Mock Orange

Many varieties have sweetly scented flowers that attract pollinators.

If having a garden filled with the scent of orange blossoms appeals to you, add mock orange shrubs to your gardening wish list. These fragrant deciduous shrubs are at their best in spring and early summer, when their aromatic white blooms attract bees and butterflies to the garden. The blooms are excellent cut flowers that fill a house with their signature scent.

While the shrub is blooming, it is spectacular, but the rest of the year it is unexceptional looking. However, its green foliage serves as an attractive backdrop for other flowers until winter arrives.

Most mock orange shrubs grow rapidly (about 2 feet per year) to reach a relatively large size of 8 feet or taller, but small 2-foot varieties are available and may be a better fit for a small garden.

Where to Plant Mock Orange

Most mock orange shrubs are cold-hardy in USDA zones 3-8. They need a full-sun location for the best flower production. Although they tolerate partial shade, blooming is reduced. Like many garden plants, they grow best in moist, well-draining soil. Plant several mock orange shrubs in a group for an informal hedge or privacy screen or a single shrub in a large container near a seating area when its sweet fragrance can be appreciated.

How and When to Plant Mock Orange

Mock orange shrubs are best planted in fall, but they can also be planted in early spring.

Whether you bought nursery-grown plants or rooted stem cuttings (a process that takes about two months), the planting process is the same. Dig a hole in a full-sun location with well-draining soil. The hole needs to be as deep as the rootball and twice as wide. Loosen the soil in the hole and dig in some compost. Position the plant at the same depth it was growing in its container. Backfill the hole, pressing down on the soil to remove air pockets. Water well.

Most mock orange shrubs are large, so space them 6-8 feet apart.

Mock Orange Care Tips

Mock orange shrubs don't require much special care.


For the most impressive blooms and fragrance, plant mock oranges in full sun.

Soil and Water

Plant in well-drained soil, preferably amended with organic matter. They prefer evenly moist soil, especially during the summer. They do not tolerate wet or poorly drained soil.

Temperature and Humidity

Mock orange shrubs handle any humidity they encounter without difficulty. They are winter hardy in zones 3-8 and don't require any special protection from the cold. In areas with extremely hot summers, they benefit from a little afternoon shade.


Mock orange shrubs aren't heavy feeders, so a single application of a slow-release granular fertilizer with a 10-10-10 ratio should be sufficient for the year.


Though it is not necessary to prune mock orange shrubs, trimming them controls their somewhat unruly appearance. Pruning should be done immediately after the plant flowers. To maintain the size of the shrub, cut it to about one-third of its height in early spring every year. Pruning encourages branching, too. As plants age, some of the mature woody stems can become less productive and bare. These can be cut back to the base to encourage new growth.

Potting and Repotting Mock Orange

One of the smaller mock orange shrubs planted in a container adds an enticing orange-blossom fragrance to a patio or other seating area. Select a large container with drain holes. Fill it with potting soil, plant a single shrub at the same height it was in its nursery container, and water well. Locate it in an area where it receives at least six hours of sun daily. Some of the smaller mock orange shrubs reach only 2 feet tall and will reach that height the first year. When the shrub needs repotting, use fresh potting soil.

Pests and Problems

Aphids, spider mites, and black scale are known to visit mock orange shrubs. An early application of horticultural oil, such as neem oil, will limit the damage.

Mock orange shrubs are relatively disease-resistant but too much rain in early spring can lead to bacterial blight and brown spot. Other moisture-related problems include powdery mildew and gray mold, which can be avoided by watering only at the base of the shrub instead of from above.

How to Propagate Mock Orange

Most gardeners propagate mock orange shrubs with stem cuttings, but they can also be propagated by seed, layering, and harvesting suckers.

Cuttings: Make cuttings from new growth in spring right after the shrub bloom ends. From stem tips, cut 4-inch sections with a couple of leaves, making the cut right beneath a leaf node. Dip the ends of the cuttings into rooting hormone. Fill 4-inch pots with soilless planting medium and poke a hole in the medium in each pot with a pencil. Insert each cutting into a hole, firm the medium gently around the cutting, and water the pots well. Cover the cutting with a plastic sandwich bag pulled down over the pot. Place the pots in a warm area away from full sun and keep the medium moist. In three or four weeks, check to see if the cuttings are rooting by gently tugging on a leaf or viewing roots in the drain hole. After the cutting roots, remove the plastic bag. Let the cutting continue to grow in the 4-inch pot until it is a little larger and has developed a robust rootball. Pull each plant out of its pot and replant it in a 1- or 2-gallon pot filled with potting soil.

Seed: Seeds must be cold stratified before they can germinate. Collect the seeds and store them in a container left outside during the winter to meet this requirement. (You can also refrigerate the seeds in peat eight weeks before planting.) Fill small pots with perlite or vermiculite and sow two seeds in each one, barely covering them with planting medium. Keep them moist and in a warm place, and the seeds will germinate in about two weeks. It takes about two months of growing to have seedlings large enough to transplant to larger containers.

Layering: In spring, locate a long, flexible branch of a mock orange and bend it down to the ground. Scrape a couple of inches of bark off the stem about a foot from the tip. Bury about 6 inches of the stem, including the scraped-off part, 3-4 inches in the ground, leaving the tip of the stem unburied. Place a rock or weight on the place where the stem is buried to hold it in place. Keep it moist, and you'll eventually have a shrub you can cut away from the parent plant, just as you do suckers. The entire process takes six to 12 months.

Suckers: Mock orange shrubs sometimes put out suckers—tiny plants that spring from the roots of a parent plant. If you spot a sucker, wait until winter when the shrub is dormant and use a sharp shovel to cut the roots attaching it to the parent plant. Dig up the sucker and replant it immediately.

Types of Mock Orange

'Galahad' Mock Orange

Galahad mock orange
Bill Stites

Philadelphus 'Galahad' produces small, glossy leaves and medium-sized fragrant white flowers on a plant that grows 8 feet tall and wide. Zones 4-7

'Miniature Snowflake' Mock Orange

Miniature Snowflake mock orange
Marty Baldwin

Philadelphus 'Miniature Snowflake' is a dwarf form that grows only 3 feet tall. It bears lots of double white, fragrant flowers in spring. Zones 5-8

'Minnesota Snowflake' Mock Orange

Minnesota Snowflake mock orange
Marty Baldwin

Philadelphus 'Minnesota Snowflake' bears very large and fragrant double flowers on an upright, well-branching plant growing to 8 feet tall. Very cold hardy. Zones 3-7

Native Mock Orange

mock orange Philadelphus lewisii
Rich Pomerantz

Philadelphus lewisii is the native mock orange, reaching 6 to 7 feet tall, with single, fragrant white blossoms. Zones 4-8

Virginal Mock Orange

Virginal mock orange
Marty Baldwin

Philadelphus virginalis produces large, semidouble white blooms that are sweetly fragrant and resemble white roses when in bud. It grows 8 feet tall and 6 feet wide. Zones 5-8

Garden Plans for Mock Orange

Foundation Garden

foundation garden plan
Illustration by Mavis Augustine Torke

A colorful alternative to the standard all-green landscape, this foundation planting mixes broad-leafed evergreen shrubs and a sculptural tree with flowering perennials and groundcovers.

Easy-Care Summer-Blooming Shade Garden Plan

easy-care summer shade garden plan
Illustration by Mavis Augustine Torke

This mix of flowering shrubs and perennials will fill your yard with color all summer long—plus provide interest in spring, fall, and winter.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Do deer and rabbits eat mock orange shrubs?

    Mock orange is relatively deer-resistant after the shrub is established, but deer may nibble on young plants. Rabbits cause more damage than deer because they bite off and eat the tender tips of branches in spring. If you have a problem with rabbits, wrap the trunk of the mock orange shrub with mesh hardware cloth from winter to late spring to discourage hungry bunnies.

  • Do I need to winterize a mock orange shrub?

    Protect the roots of the shrub by watering it heavily right before the first frost of winter. If your weather is particularly harsh, cover the shrub with a sheet on the coldest nights.

Was this page helpful?
Related Articles