Content Detail

Mock-orange is an old-fashioned, back of the border shrub. It blooms in late spring to early summer flowering shrub with sweetly scented white flowers. Its dark green foliage makes an attractive background for the pure white flowers. It has limited ornamental value in other seasons, but the double flowering cultivars are bringing popularity back to this plant.

  • Family (English) Hydrangea
  • Family (botanic) Hydrangeaceae
  • Tree or plant type Shrub
  • Foliage Deciduous (seasonally loses leaves)
  • Native locale Non-native
  • Size range Low-growing shrub (under 3 feet), Small shrub (3-5 feet), Medium shrub (5-8 feet)
  • Light exposure Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily), Partial sun / shade (4-6 hrs light daily)
  • Hardiness zones Zone 5 (Northern Illinois), Zone 6 (City of Chicago), Zone 7
  • Soil preference Moist, well-drained soil
  • Tolerances Alkaline soil, Occasional drought
  • Season of interest mid spring, late spring
  • Flower color and fragrance Fragrant, White
  • Shape or form Mounded, Multi-stemmed, Upright
  • Growth rate Fast

Size and form:

Virginal mock-orange is typically a 5 to 8 feet high and wide shrub with a loosely upright habit. The cultivars are more compact and smaller in size.

Native geographic location and habitat:

Virginal mock-orange is of hybrid origin.

Bark color and texture:

The bark is orange to red-brown. The older stems have exfoliating bark.

Leaf or needle arrangement, size, shape, and texture:

The leaves are opposite, 1 1/2 to 4 inches long, 2 inches wide and dark green with pointed tips. The fall color is yellow-brown.

Flower arrangement, shape, and size:

The fragrant flowers are four petaled, 1 1/2 inches across and bright white with many yellow stamens. Many cultivars have bright white double flowers.

Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions:

The fruit is a small, four-valved dry capsule, which persists into the winter months.

Plant care:

Virginal mock-orange does best in full sun to part shade. It prefers moist, well-drained soil with plenty of organic matter added. It is best placed at the back of the border. The smaller cultivars work well in perennial gardens, foundation plantings or shrub borders. Prune it after it has finished flowering. Annual pruning is recommended to remove stems that have become leggy.

List of pests, diseases, and tolerances: 

Scale insects, rust, and powdery mildew can be problems on this plant.

Minnesota Snowflake mockorange (Philadelphus x virginalis ‘Minnesota Snowflake):

A compact, 2 to 3 feet high and 1 to 2 feet wide cultivar with fragrant, double white flowers. The flower is larger than those of the species, growing up to 2 inches across.

Miniature Snowflake mockorange (Philadelphus ‘Miniature Snowflake’):

A dwarf, compact, 2 to 3 feet high and 1 to 2 feet wide cultivar with double white, fragrant flowers.

Snowbelle mockorange (Philadelphus ‘Snowbelle’):

This cultivar is mounded, 3 to 4 feet high and wide, with fragrant, double, pure white flowers.

Snow White Sensation mockorange (Philadelphus ‘Snow White Sensation):

A vase-shaped, 5 to 6 feet high and wide cultivar with clusters of 2 inch wide, double white fragrant flowers.


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