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How to Grow a Mock Orange or English Dogwood

Would you like to know how to grow a Mock Orange successfully? You came to the right place! I have a really nice Mock Orange that is about 6 feet tall and easily as big around. When it’s blooming, it’s indeed a sight to see! The white flowers really stand out in my landscape.

I live in 9A planting zone so the English Dogwood easily survives our mild Winter weather. I must say it requires little to no care to continue to produce a beautiful display of flowers every year.

Mock Orange, with its intoxicating scent and elegant white blossoms, is often mistaken for orange trees. Despite its citrus-like fragrance, it belongs to the Philadelphus genus and is more closely related to hydrangeas. This deciduous shrub is versatile, suitable for a variety of landscapes, and is prized for its low-maintenance nature and resilience.

Varieties of Mock Orange

With over 60 species, the Mock Orange genus offers a variety of options for gardeners:

  • Philadelphus coronarius: Known as the Sweet Mock Orange, this variety is celebrated for its intense fragrance and traditional white flowers.
  • Philadelphus ‘Belle Etoile’: This cultivar stands out with its large flowers, each with a maroon center, offering a unique visual and olfactory experience.
  • Philadelphus x virginalis: Notable for its profuse, double flowers, this variety extends the blooming season, providing a longer period of enjoyment.

Ideal Growing Conditions

To thrive, Mock Orange requires certain conditions that mimic its natural habitat.

Climate Preferences

Mock Orange is quite hardy and can adapt to a range of climates, preferably in USDA zones 4 through 8. It can endure mild winters and is tolerant of summer heat, making it suitable for various landscapes.

Soil Requirements

This shrub isn’t too fussy about soil but prefers a well-draining type enriched with organic matter. A neutral to slightly acidic pH is ideal for its growth.

Sunlight and Location

A sunny spot is best for Mock Orange, as it encourages prolific blooming. However, it can also tolerate partial shade. Ensure it’s protected from strong winds to prevent damage to its branches and flowers.

Planting Mock Orange

When to Plant

The optimal planting times are during the mild temperatures of spring or fall, allowing the plant to establish its roots without the stress of extreme heat or cold.

Choosing the Right Spot

An area that receives full to partial sun and has well-draining soil is ideal. Consider the mature size of the Mock Orange to ensure it has ample room to flourish.

Step-by-Step Planting Guide

  • Prepare the Soil: Amend it with compost to improve fertility and drainage.
  • Dig a Hole: Ensure it’s spacious enough for the root ball to fit comfortably.
  • Position the Plant: Set the Mock Orange in the hole, aligning it with the surrounding ground level.
  • Backfill the Hole: Refill gently with soil, avoiding over-compaction.
  • Water Generously: Initial watering helps settle the soil around the roots.

Caring for Mock Orange

Watering Needs

While established Mock Oranges are relatively drought-tolerant, regular watering during dry periods is crucial, especially for new plants.

Fertilizing Guidelines

Feed your Mock Orange in early spring with a balanced, slow-release fertilizer to support healthy growth and flowering.

Pruning Techniques

Pruning should be done just after the blooming period ends. This encourages new growth and helps maintain an attractive shape.

Protecting from Pests and Diseases

Mock Orange is relatively disease-resistant but can occasionally be affected by pests like aphids or issues like powdery mildew. Prompt attention and natural remedies are usually sufficient to handle these problems.

Propagation of Mock Orange

The two processes of propagation you are most likely to be successful with are the following:

Propagation Through Cuttings

Take semi-hardwood cuttings in late summer and root them in a moist, well-draining medium for best results.

Propagation Through Layering

This technique involves bending a branch to the ground, securing it, and covering a portion with soil until it roots.

Mock Orange Through the Seasons

English Dogwood are easy to care for and require little maintenance throughout the seasons. Here are some general guidelines to give you an idea of what needs to be done to keep them looking their best.

Spring Care

Focus on pruning and fertilizing to prepare your Mock Orange for the growing season.

Summer Maintenance

Regular watering and monitoring for pests are crucial during the hot months.

Fall Preparations

Reduce watering and mulch around the base to prepare for winter.

Winter Protection

In colder zones, protect the plant with burlap wraps or extra mulch to shield it from freezing temperatures.

Common Issues and Solutions

Addressing Yellowing Leaves

This can indicate overwatering or a lack of nutrients. Adjust your watering schedule and consider a soil test to check nutrient levels.

Handling Bloom Failure

Ensure your plant gets enough sunlight and prune correctly to encourage blooming.

Embracing the beauty of Mock Orange in your garden means engaging with a plant that offers not only visual and olfactory delight but also a touch of history and culture. With the right care, your Mock Orange will be a source of joy for years to come.


  • How often should I water my Mock Orange?
    Water newly planted Mock Oranges regularly to keep the soil moist. Once established, they can tolerate some drought, but it’s best to water them during prolonged dry spells.
  • Can Mock Orange grow in shaded areas?
    While Mock Orange prefers full sun, it can tolerate partial shade. However, too much shade can reduce blooming.
  • When is the best time to prune Mock Orange?
    Prune right after the blooming period ends to shape the plant and encourage new growth.
  • How can I encourage more blooms on my Mock Orange?
    Ensure it gets enough sunlight, water appropriately, fertilize in early spring, and prune correctly.
  • Is Mock Orange suitable for container gardening?
    Yes, Mock Orange can be grown in containers, provided the container is large enough and has good drainage.
  • Can Mock Orange withstand freezing temperatures?
    Mock Orange is hardy but may need protection in freezing temperatures, especially in colder zones.

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