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What Is a Mexican Orange Blossom?

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  • Written By: O. Parker
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  • Last Modified Date: 22 August 2014
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The Mexican orange blossom is a flowering shrub native to southern North America and the temperate regions of Mexico. The small white flowers have the delicate, sweet scent of orange blossoms. The Mexican orange blossom is often called mock orange. The scientific name is Choisya ternate, choisya being the genus and ternate being the species. Common cultivars found in domestic garden settings are the "sundance" and "goldfingers."

The Mexican orange blossom grows from 6 feet to 10 feet (about 2 m to 3 m) tall and forms a dense hedge. This evergreen shrub is suitable both for formal and informal hedgerows. Both cultivars respond well to rigorous pruning when a formal hedgerow is desired. As an informal hedge, the Mexican mock orange will grow into a compact, slightly rounded shrub with little or no pruning. The Mexican orange blossom is also grown as a stand-alone shrub in the landscape or in pots on a deck or patio.

In the spring and summer, the white flowers bloom in a profusion. The flowers are hermaphroditic, possessing both stamens and pistils in each flower; they are pollinated by bees and other beneficial insects. Each flower is about 1 inch (2.5 cm) across and grows in a flat or slightly convex shape. The foliage is glossy green or yellow, depending on the cultivar; when crushed, it has a scent slightly reminiscent of basil.

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Mexican orange blossom grows well in sun, partial shade, and deep shade, though protection from cold winds is required. Ideal soil conditions are slightly alkaline, loamy or light clay. Slightly damp soil is ideal, but wet, waterlogged areas should be avoided. Once established, it will tolerate periods of drought, making the Mexican mock orange a good choice for Mediterranean climates or waterwise gardens. Hardy to winter temperatures as low as 14 degrees Fahrenheit (-10 Celsius) the Mexican orange blossom will experience leaf loss and may die if temperatures drop below 5 degrees Fahrenheit (-15 C).

The plants are pruned in the winter or early spring when necessary. After a cold winter, any dead or frost-damaged wood should be cut out. When the first blossoms die back, the flower stalks should be cut back about 10 inches (25 cm) to encourage a second flowering. The Mexican orange blossom can withstand heavy pruning and can withstand being cut back to the ground when necessary. Yearly light pruning will keep the plant looking neat and healthy, though no pruning is necessary.

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John57
Post 2

@SarahSon - The Mexican Orange Blossom and the Mock Orange tree are very similar, but they do have different scientific names. You can find mock orange trees and shrubs that will handle colder winters, but you would not want to plant a Mexican Orange Blossom in a cold climate.

If you live in a Zone 7 or higher, you would be able to plant either one of them.

Both are very beautiful when in bloom, and besides some pruning, are easy to take care of.

SarahSon
Post 1

I am familiar with a mock orange shrub, but have not heard of a Mexican Orange Blossom shrub. Are they the same thing? I do not live in a warm climate and it sounds like this would not tolerate my winters very well.

Seems like I always like the tropical plants that don't like cold weather! I really enjoy colorful flowers, but there is something very appealing about white, scented flowers.

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