How to grow Philadelphus the Mock Orange shrub

Philadelphus is an easy to grow deciduous shrub, which flowers in late spring and early summer. Philadelphus has very attractive flowers and wonderful scent which is why it is also known as The Mock Orange Shrub. In terms of growth, different varieties grow between 1.2m and 3m and several popular garden varieties are fully hardy to H6 which is -15, so suitable for anywhere in the UK.

Philadelphus can have single and double flowers and will grow in most conditions with a preference for sun or partial sun. Philadelphus will grow on all types of soil, clay, chalk, sandy, and will thrive on any PH in the soil, and in any position, sheltered or exposed. It is a shrub you can plant almost anywhere you like and it will thrive. The only conditions to cause Philadelphus problems (in common with many plants and shrubs) are boggy, wet, and poorly drained soils.

Philadelphus makes a great addition to a shrub border, requiring little or no attention, which makes it a green wheelbarrow shrub.

How to prune Philadelphus

 Philadelphus will benefit from pruning, although it is not essential every year. If the shrub is getting too large, or has developed some spindly branches, or it is flowering less, prune it to promote more growth and vigour. The best time to prune Philadelphus is after flowering, which will be late in July. Cut back to good bud and /or remove about a quarter of the old growth. In common with many shrubs, regular pruning removing some of the older growth will promote new growth and better flowering. If pruning regularly every year, it is common to remove one third or a quarter of the old growth down to the ground.  

Over time, Philadelphus can become woody, with all the flowers at the top, and long wood/cane like stems which looks unattractive. Philadelphus belongs to that group of shrubs which will tolerate hard pruning and come back although it may take more than one season. If your Philadelphus shrub has become overgrown and unsightly, prune it hard, around July after flowering down to 1ft/ 30 cms. It may not flower the following year but should put on a good deal of growth and by year 2 will look a great deal better and blooming.  

Good varieties of Philadelphus for the garden.

Popular, easy to grow varieties, include 'Belle Etoile' illustrated above right,  a more compact variety up to 2m, fully hardy arching branches with many very fragrant flowers. P. coronarius 'Variegatus' has small but very fragrant flowers, fully hardy and tolerant of most growing conditions, and P. coronarius combines well with Euphorbia to create a really bright green effect.  P. 'Boule d'Argent'  is less fragrant, but has the added advantage of semi-double to double white flowers. There is a golden yellow leaved variety P.'Aureus' which grows up to 2.5m. and also P. Manteau d'Hermine' compact with very fragrant flowers.

The shortness of this text is a testament to how easy it is to grow Philadelphus,  and so rewarding, with its profusion of blooms and scent.