How to grow Choisya the Mexican Orange blossom shrub

Choisya is one of the best evergreen garden shrubs and so easy to grow. It has the impressive combination of lush, evergreen foliage together with beautifully scented flowers. It is a medium-sized shrub suited to an average-sized garden. To me, it is one of the must have shrubs. Every time I walk around the garden in May and June, I can enjoy its sweet scent. 

Although primarily early summer flowering, Choisya often has a second flush of flowers in autumn.

The two most popular varieties are Choisya ' Aztec Pearl'  illustrated and C. ternata. The main difference is in the leaf, Aztec Pearl has a wider leaf, Choisya ternata has a narrower leaf. There is also a variety of Choisya ternata ' Sundance' which has attractive yellow foliage which is usually grown in semi shade for its leaf colour, as it hardly ever flowers.

Where to plant Choisya

 Choisya flowers are best when planted in full sun and well drained soil. Even so, it is tolerant of most soils, including Chalk, Clay, Loam, Sand and also Acid, Alkaline, Neutral. In common with many plants, the only conditions in which Choisya will struggle to thrive is in wet or poorly drained soil.

 Choisya has lush shiny foliage and one thing these images cannot show is the wonderful perfume. Choisya is a highly scented shrub which gives rise to its common name of Mexican orange blossom. The scent is wonderful, especially on a warm evening and a good shrub to plant close to a patio to enjoy its perfume.

Choisya is hardy H4, which is -5-10 suitable for most parts of the UK. To have the best scent and flowers plant in a sheltered, sunny spot. In late May/June, Choisya are covered in white flowers, as the image illustrates and very scented.

Most commonly grown Choisya are:

  1.  C.Aztec Pearl, which has RHS award of garden merit, compact spreading up to 2.5m (8ft) with strongly scented flowers.
  2. C.ternata, again with RHS award, of a similar size and with scented flowers.
  3. Choisya × dewitteana 'Aztec Gold' has narrower leaves which are gold coloured maturing to green. A more compact version growing to around 1.2m with scented flowers.
  4. Choisya × dewitteana White Dazzler, has narrow leaves and scented flowers. It is more compact growing to around 1.2m making it more suitable for container growing.
  5. Choisya × dewitteana Apple Blossom, a new variety with very pretty flowers, tinged with pink and red opening to white. The smallest variety growing to around .5m, ideal for pots and patios, but the flowers are not scented.


You can view more images and buy from Crocus which has a good selection of 7 Choisya (affiliate links)  including C. White Dazzler a mass of white scented flowers, the traditional C. ternata with glossy yellow foilage, and the more compact variety C. Aztec Pearl.

How to Prune Choisya

For general maintenance, if you wish, Choisya can be pruned after flowering. Remove the top 20 cms of growth to keep in shape and to size.

What if the Choisya has become too large? Also, sometimes Choisya can become bare at the bottom of the plant or leggy.

In the images below, the Choisya, which has been growing in the same spot for many years and mostly looking good, is looking a bit tired. To rejuvenate, Choisya can be hard pruned, in a similar way to Rhododendrons, cutting hard into the wood and really be quite savage. It will grow back and be healthier with new glossy foliage, although it may take a season or two. The middle image shows cutting back the Choisya, low down to the ground. The final images show the Choisya after cutting back, it looks quite denuded but it will grow back, and better. 

Page updated 07.05.2023

Poorly looking Choisya

Poorly looking Choisya

Pruning hard back

Pruning hard back

Choisya cut back

Choisya cut back