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Mr. Smarty Plants - Can Mock Orange be grown in a container?

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Tuesday - March 29, 2011

From: St. Petersburg, FL
Region: Southeast
Topic: Container Gardens
Title: Can Mock Orange be grown in a container?
Answered by: Guy Thompson

QUESTION:

Can the Mock Orange Shrub be grown as a container "plant"? I have seen apricots and apple trees (certain varieties, of course); grown this way.

ANSWER:

There are several species of mock orange, and I am not certain which one you are thinking of.  In Texas alone Philadelphus texensis (Texas mock orange)Philadelphus ernestii (Canyon mock orange)Philadelphus microphyllus (Littleleaf mock orange)Fendlera rupicola (Cliff fendlerbush), or False mock orange,  Philadelphus hitchcockianus (Hitchcock's mock orange), and Philadelphus pubescens (Hoary mock orange) all can be found.  These are the only native species in the Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center data base that might be found in Florida.  Could one of these be the plant you have in mind?

Another species, Philadelphus floridus (Florida mock orange), does not even seem to be commonly grown in Florida.  Perhaps the most common species found in gardens is Philadelphus corinarius (Sweet mock orange).  This species has been employed in creating numerous horticultural varieties. Click on the underlined species names for more information about them.

Mr. Smarty Plants knows of no common usage of Philadelphus species as container plants.  The problem is that they rather quickly become lanky, which is nice in the outdoor garden but would require frequent pruning in a pot. It might be hard to maintain an attractlive shape.

There are other plants sometimes given the common name mock orange, including the non-natives Murraya-paniculata and Pittosporum tobira.  These can be grown successfully in containers.

If it is the Philadelphus corinarius type that you have in mind, your best bet is to study its growth habit and culture conditions and judge for yourself whether it would be worth the effort to keep it in the confinement of a container.  If you choose to try, it would be better to obtain your starting plant material while it is in bloom to make certain that it has the enticing perfume that is not always found in mock oranges.

 

From the Image Gallery


Texas mock orange
Philadelphus texensis

Canyon mock orange
Philadelphus ernestii

Littleleaf mock orange
Philadelphus microphyllus

Cliff fendlerbush
Fendlera rupicola

Hitchcock's mock orange
Philadelphus hitchcockianus

Water tupelo
Nyssa aquatica

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