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 beautiful scented flowers, and 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. It also has good glossy leaved foliage. 

The two most popular varieties are Choisya ' Aztec Pearl'   illustrated above and right and also known as Mexican Orange Blossom, and C. ternata. The difference is mainly in the leaf, Aztec Pearl has a wider leaf, Choisya ternata has a more narrow 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 best when planted where there is plenty of sun in well drained soil, but it is tolerant of most soils and settings 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 and flower are wet and badly drained soils.

 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. The two most commonly found C.Aztec Pearl, which has RHS award of garden merit, compact spreading up to 2.5m (8ft) and C.ternata, again with RHS award, of a similar size. In a year of good growing conditions, Choisya may flower again in late summer. Choisya is tagged as green wheel barrow, there is no necessity to prune, stake or feed; an ideal garden shrub.

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 lack growth becoming bare at the bottom of the plant, leggy and the leaves yellowing despite feeding.

In the image 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. 

Poorly looking Choisya

Poorly looking Choisya

Pruning hard back

Pruning hard back

Choisya cut back

Choisya cut back

last updated 20.01.2021