Mock orange stumps knowledgeable pair
July 6, 2020
Q: My mother taught me everything there is to know about plants and trees and how to take care of them properly. She is a walking encyclopedia of the outdoors. While visiting her yesterday I saw a flowering bush in her yard. Normally, if one of us doesn’t know what a flower is, the other one will. We are stumped.
The bush in question has a very lilac look to it. Multiple, thick, sturdy trunks coming from one spot in the ground, very tall and wide, a beautiful teacup-like white flower. It has more than tripled in size in the last year or two, and my mother doesn’t remember planting it. Can you tell me what this might be? – M.S. via email
A: That looks to be one of the mock orange, Philadelphus, species.
The flowers have four petals, and most species are quite fragrant. The stems have opposite leaves.
There are some native species of mockorange, such as P. inodorus. which are less fragrant.
Sweet mockorange, P. coronarius, is native to Europe and used to be more widely planted.
Some improved hybrid selections are available in the trade currently.
As you’ve observed, the plants get rather large and can benefit from pruning after flowers fade.
More about pruning is available at https://www.purdue.edu/hla/sites/yardandgarden/some-shrubs-best-pruned-after-flowering-2/.
You can read more about these shrubs at