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Choisya ternata (Mexican Orange Blossom)

A plant we’ve always grown but never got over excited about UNTIL I saw one that someone had clipped into a cube because they’d planted it right by their front door and if they hadn’t cut it back, they wouldn’t have been able to get into their house. Clipped like that, it was neat and tight and the most beautiful texture and I suddenly got interested in this plant but then it got even better…. I saw it clipped and growing in the shade. The tightness and the neatness was still there but now it was even more delicious. Greener and even shinier. It’s common name – Mexican Orange Blossom – implies gorgeous and fragrant blossoms galore. If you clip it as suggested, it won’t flower much if it all because you will have cut off all the material that would have produced the flowers. In my modest opinion, a small price to pay for one of nature’s most delicious textures. Do I think the attractiveness of the flowers is generally over-egged? I do. They’re white and smell nice-ish but unfortunately, not of orange blossom.

Late (in spring) or early (in autumn) frost might create superficial damage to to young growth. If it concerns you, another opportunity to get your shears out and give it another hair cut. It’s not good on really poorly drained soil – it doesn’t like wet feet but I wouldn’t consider it particularly fussy in other ways. Occasionally you’ll get tiny holes appearing in the developing leaves and this is caused by the wretched capsid bug which feed on the emerging foliage, causes microscopic holes in the leaves but, of course, as the leaf grows, so do the holes. Unsightly but not damaging to the plant. On the nursery we spray a preventative insecticide but in the garden I’d put it down to occasional bad luck and give it another hair cut. Capsid is endemic. You’re not going to make much difference to the population by spraying one plant in your garden but having a good tidy up on the ground might remove over-wintering populations. The other thing to remember is that by the time you notice the damage, the bugs are long gone.

Severe frost (-4°c or below) will give the leaves a glazed, pendulous look. It can look terminal but it’s not. They recover wonderfully well as soon as the temperature rises.

The ones pictured are opposite a stationary shop called Staples near Sainsburys in Horsham, West Sussex.

Propagated by cuttings.

N.B. When clipping several plants with the same tool, have a bucket containing a 5% bleach solution and swish your blades around for 30 seconds between plants to sterilise them. This will help avoid the chance of cross contamination of disease.

As with all woody plants, plant high, exposing as much of the taper at the base of the trunk as possible. Allowing soil to accumulate round the base of a tree can be fatal. Keep very well watered when first planted.

Category:
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Hardiness level Green

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Hardy anywhere in Britain below approximately 1000ft (300m)

This is only meant as a guide. Please remember we're always on hand to give advice about plants and their frost hardiness.

Please remember that these coloured labels are only a rough guide.

General Point about Plant Hardiness: The commonly held belief that it's better to 'plant small' is perfectly true with herbaceous plants, but not necessarily true with woody plants. They need some 'wood' on them to survive severe cold - so plants of marginal hardiness in very cold areas should really be planted LARGER, rather than smaller, wherever possible.