How to Care for Philadelphus Virginalis (Mock Orange Bush)

Philadelphus Virginalis plants are also known as Mock Orange Bush, a name given to them due to their citrus fragrance and appearance of their flowers that are similar to oranges. Mock Orange Bush belongs to the Hydrangeaceae family of flowering plants. Their botanical name refers to the Egyptian King of Europe, Ptolemy II Philadelphus. They are grown for their beautiful white bloom and fragrance. They can be a great addition to your outdoor garden or indoor decoration.

The Mock Orange Bush is native to North America, Central America, and Asia. During the Ottoman reign in Turkey, it was brought from Asia and introduced in Europe. The Mock Orange Bush has won many prestigious international awards, including the Royal Horticultural Society’s Award of Garden Merit.

There are more than 60 varieties of the Mock Orange Bushes, each variety is slightly different from the other one in terms of flowering, smell, and foliage but their care, growing conditions, and requirements are similar for all. The Mock Orange Bushes grow a lot of white-colored fragrant flowers and create a scenic beauty, that is why they are mostly grown in the Parks and Gardens.

One of Mock Orange Bush varieties (Lewis’ Mock Orange) is also a state symbol of the State of Idaho. Seven varieties of the Mock Orange Bushes that have won Award of Garden Merit are “ Aureus (P. coronarius), ‘Beauclerk’, ‘Belle Étoile’, ’Innocence’, ‘Manteau d’Hermine’, ‘Sybille’ and ‘Variegatus’.” These varieties are considered one of the most beautiful and easy to grow varieties.

The height of the Mock Orange Bushes depends on the variety that you are growing. Some varieties only grow 3 feet tall; these are considered a perfect choice for indoor decorations. While some varieties can also grow up to 20 feet. They are very tall and mostly grown in outdoor gardens. Young plants of these varieties can also be grown in pots indoors.

Top 5 Varieties of Mock Orange Bushes

There are more than 60 varieties and cultivars of Mock Orange Bushes. Below are the details of the five best varieties and cultivars of the Mock Orange Bushes. These varieties and cultivars are important as they are grown worldwide and they are considered one of the most beautiful Mock Orange Bushes.

  1. Lewis’ mock-orange:

Lewis’ Mock-orange is also known with many other names such as California Mock-orange and wild Mock-orange. This variety is also the state symbol of Idaho. It has dark green leaves and white flowers. It can grow up to 12 feet tall and 8 feet wide.

This variety is grown mostly in the parks and gardens under the direct sun. But you can also grow them in the pots in an indoor environment. They require proper care, regular watering, moderate temperatures, and a bright environment to thrive. This variety is also resistant to many types of pests and diseases that attack these plants.

  1. Mock orange ‘Aureus’:

This beautiful variety of Mock-orange bushes has won many awards including the Garden merit award of Royal Horticultural society. It has beautiful foliage of dark green color and has white flowers. The fragrance of the flowers resembles jasmine and oranges. The flowers and leaves of the Aureus look similar to the other citrus plants including oranges and lemons.

It can grow up to 5 feet tall, making it a perfect choice for indoor decoration. You can also grow them in outdoor environments as they grow very well under the full sun. It requires well-draining soil, proper watering, fertilizers, moderately warm temperatures, and a bright environment to thrive.

  1. Manteau d’Hermine:

This beautiful variety has also won the Award of Garden Merit from the Royal Horticultural Society due to its easy to care nature and beautiful appearance and unique fragrance. With its clustering white flowers that produce an odor similar to that of oranges or lemons and dark green leaves that shine during the day.

This variety of Mock Orange Bushes has a small size, it can only grow up to 4 feet, making it a perfect choice for indoor planters and pots. But you can also grow them in outdoor gardens. They like to be under the full sun during the morning and evening but require a partial shade during the hottest time of the day. They grow very well in porous soils, under the bright sun, and in moderate temperatures.

  1. Sybille:

Mock Orange Bushes variety Sybille is also a recipient of the Award of Garden Merit from the Royal Horticultural Society. This variety is well-known for its small white flowers and dark-green leaves. It is mostly grown in gardens and parks due to its beautiful flowers and its bushy nature.

Sybille requires small space to grow as it is one of the smallest varieties of Mock Orange Bushes. They can grow very well under the full sun to partial shade. They need well-draining soil, proper supply of water, fertilizer, light, and moderate temperature to thrive.

  1. Silver Mock Orange:

Silver Mock Orange is a variety of Mock Orange Bushes, the white flowers of this variety lose the color of their flowers after a few days of bloom. These white flowers then turn into silvery-grey. They have dark-green oval-shaped leaves that are arranged in an alternate formation on the branches.

Silver Mock Orange can only grow up to 6 feet, making it a perfect choice for indoor pots. They are also grown in outdoor gardens and parks for their beautiful and colorful bloom. They require well-draining soil, a bright environment, and a proper supply of water and fertilizers to properly grow.

Growing Conditions and Requirements

Mock Orange Bushes are a large group of more than 60 varieties. They grow different in size and have differences in appearance but the growing conditions and care requirements for all of these varieties are almost similar.

All of these varieties need well-draining, porous soil, moderate temperatures, proper water supply, fertilizers, and a bright environment to thrive. They require different spaces as some varieties are large like trees and need more space to grow, while some are very small and can easily be grown inside the containers and pots.

Below are the details about the growing conditions and requirements for the Mock Orange Bush plants.

Water Requirements

Mock Orange Bushes need to be watered regularly and properly. They are not drought tolerant but also do not like the soil to be wet all the time. Their watering requirements depend on the age of the plant, location of the plant, and soil. Young and small plants need more water than a mature plant.

The plants in the pots and containers need more water than the plants that are planted directly in the soil. Plants that are grown directly in the ground soil can access the water that is present in the soil while the plants in the pot cannot access the water freely, they depend on the water supply.

Below are the instructions to properly water your Mock Orange Bushes:

● Keep this in mind that small plants need more water as their roots are not well-settled in the soil to obtain water directly from the ground like the mature plants. So, they need more frequent watering.

● Mock Orange Bushes that are grown in well-draining soil, will also need more water because such soil is very porous and quickly drains the water. After the water has been drained the soil will become dry quickly. That is why plants in the well-draining soil will always need more water.

● When the plant reaches 2 to 3 feet in height, its roots adjust deep in the soil and then it can easily obtain water from the soil, then you can water them less frequently. But if you have planted them in a planter, they will always need the water from you as the potting soil can only trap the water for a short period.

● In hot and dry areas where temperatures are relatively high, you will have to water them more frequently, while in cold areas and during the winter, you can water them less frequently.

● The plants that are under the full sun will always need more water than the plants in shades. Sunlight evaporates the water from the soil quickly that is why plants will need frequent watering.

A watering schedule can be prepared for the Mock Orange Bushes, this schedule must be prepared according to the age of the plant, the height of the plant, placement (planter or direct in the ground), seasonal and geographical factors. Most of these varieties need water once every 7 days.

Lighting Requirements

Mock Orange Bushes need a bright environment to properly grow, they like to be grown under the full sun where they can get direct or indirect sunlight. They can also be grown under the shades but under the shade, they grow slowly. In indoor environments, you will have to place them in a place where they can get enough light.

They like to be under the sun during the winter and spring while in the summer, they need partial shade during the hottest time of the day. Extremely hot temperatures and extreme sunlight combined can burn the flowers, and make the white color of some varieties fade away. This can also lead to the early wilting of the flowers of the Mock Orange Bushes.

Temperature Requirements

The Mock Orange Bushes are tolerant of the temperatures below zero degrees. They can survive in the hardiness zone between 4 to 9. They thrive when the temperatures are moderate. In hot temperatures, the plant’s flowers lose their color and also quickly wilt. They grow very well when the temperature is between 10–18 °C (50°–64 °F). They can also be grown in cold regions where the temperature during the winter can go below zero degrees.

They can also tolerate frost for a short period. Frost conditions for the long term can damage the foliage and branches of the plant. That is why it is advised that if you have planted them in a cold region, you must protect them from the extremely cold temperatures. You can do this by keeping them indoors during the winter.

Soil Requirements

Mock Orange Bushes need well-draining soil that can quickly drain the water. This type of soil is porous and allows the excess water to move out of the pot. This type of soil traps only a small amount of water that is needed for the plant. It helps in protecting the soil roots of the plants from the attack of root rot or fungal attacks.

Such soil mostly contains sand, compost, garden soil, perlite, pumice, and plant fertilizers. You can use this type of soil for both indoor plants in planters and outdoor as well. You can also add a small amount of mulch in your potting soil.

Fertilizer Requirements

You can use the general-purpose plant fertilizers and liquid plant fertilizers to boost the growth of your Mock Orange Bushes. When you grow them in the soil the nutrients in that soil deplete quickly as the plant needs them to properly grow.

When the nutrients in the soil deplete, plants show slow growth and other signs of nutrients deficiency, including yellowing of the leaves, and wilting of the flowers. You can use the soil test to identify which nutrients have been depleted, this soil test also recommends the type of fertilizers you should use for the Mock Orange Bushes.

how to use the fertilizers?

You can use the fertilizers in three different ways. Each of these methods is related to the age of the plant.

● First, you can mix the fertilizers with the potting soil before planting the Mock Orange Bushes. This method is used when you want to boost the growth of the plant in the early days of the plantation.

● Once you have planted them in a container or a garden, you can feed them fertilizers in liquid form. You can create a mixture of recommended fertilizer with the water and then keep feeding this liquid to your plant once every 30 to 40 days. You can keep using this method for the Mock Orange Bushes unless they gain a height of 5 feet or more.

● Varieties of Mock Orange Bushes that grow taller than 7 feet, can be fed fertilizers by spreading the fertilizers around the stem of the plant and then watering it. The water dissolves the fertilizers and thus fertilizers become available for the plant’s roots to intake.

Before applying any type of fertilizer, please read the description and usage guidelines related to the specific fertilizer that you are using.

Common Diseases and Pests Control

Most of the Mock Orange Bush varieties are resistant to most of the pests and diseases that attack the plants. They are also resistant to most of the fungi-based diseases. The few problems that you might face with your Mock Orange Bushes are Aphids and Spider Mites in some cases. They can easily be treated with the help of chemical sprays.

You can also prevent all the possible attacks of any diseases by regularly pruning them and keeping the branches and foliage of the Mock Orange Bushes dry. Root rot can also be a problem for varieties but you can also prevent this following a balanced schedule for watering.

If the leaves of the Mock Orange Bush start getting yellow or flowers are wilting quickly, then you can keep them in a bright place and feed them some fertilizer. This will help bring back the normal color of leaves and will also prevent the early wilting of leaves.

Pruning Requirements

Mock Orange plants are bushes and they grow like bushes without any order. They can spread quickly to any available space. Pruning is important for them to control their spread and is also important as it encourages the growth of new leaves and branches.

You can prune them before the start of spring. In spring the plant will grow more leaves and new branches if it has been properly pruned. Pruning them is very easy. You can start by identifying the dead, leggy, diseased, or out of shape parts of the plant. You can start by cutting off these parts of the plant.

After that, you can give the plant any shape you want. After pruning, place them under the full sun and also provide them fertilizers and water. This will boost the growth of new leaves and branches of the Mock Orange Bush.

Re-potting Requirements

If you have planted the Mock Orange bush in a pot, they will quickly outgrow that pot. Mostly they outgrow their pot within a year. Repotting them once a year is recommended. You can re-pot them during the summer.

Before repotting them, you need to prepare a bigger pot than they are already in. Fill the new pot with the required soil and then carefully transfer the plant from one pot to another. Once repotting is done, give them some water and leave them under the full sun.

Roots will take some time to adjust in the soil and watering can help the roots adjust well in the new pot. Try not to damage the roots of the Mock Orange Bush during the repotting. Exposing or damaging the roots of the Mock Orange Bush can lead to the death of the plant.


Mock Orange varieties are mostly propagated with the help of stem cuttings. Cuttings must be taken from a mature plant. To take cuttings, you can use a sharp sterile knife or cutter. Spring is considered the best time to take cuttings.

After taking cuttings, you can directly plant them in soil, or you can keep them in a rooting hormone for some time. Once you see that cuttings have started to grow roots, you can then transfer them into the potting soil. Keep them in a bright place and properly water them.

Growing from seeds:

Mock Orange varieties can also be grown from the seeds. You can find their seeds from the nurseries and online easily. You need to plant the seeds in the soil and then keep watering them. Seeds may take a few days to sprout and once they are out of the soil, you can take care of them like a normal plant.

Frequently Asked Questions

Question: Is Dwarf Mock Orange variety evergreen?

Answer: Yes, Dwarf Mock Orange is an evergreen variety of Mock Orange Bushes. They are small in size and can only grow up to 2 to 3 feet tall. They have small white flowers and dark green leaves.

Question: What is the most fragrant Mock Orange?

Answer: Among all of the 60 varieties of Mock Orange bushes, “Philadelphus ‘Avalanche” is considered the most fragrant variety. This variety produces a strong odor, similar to the oranges and jasmine.

Question: What are the problems with Mock Oranges?

Answer: The Mock Orange Bushes are resistant to most of the plant pathogens, but environmental factors and low availability of light, overwatering or less watering, overfeeding of fertilizers can lead to some problems such as no flowering during the bloom, early flower wilting, color change of the flowers, change in the leaves color. If you see any of these problems you can treat them by proper watering, proper fertilizing, keeping them in the bright environment, and providing the right temperatures.

Question: Why does my Mock Orange not flower?

Answer: Pruning too late can lead to the cutting off flower buds, if this happens, you will not see the bloom. This can also happen if the plants are grown in a dark environment where they are not getting enough light.