Contact Us Host an Event Volunteer Join

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

 
rate this answer
1 rating

Monday - March 30, 2009

From: Charleston, WV
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Pruning, Shrubs
Title: Pruning a mock orange in Charleston WV
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

How far back and when do I prune a "Mock Orange" in order to get it to bloom?

ANSWER:

The first thing we do when we get a question about a particular plant is to determine its nativity. At the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, we promote the care and propagation of plants native not only to North America but to the area in which they are being grown. We learned that the genus name for mock orange is Philadelphus, a member of the Hydrangeaceae (hydrangea) family. There is no member of this genus native to West Virginia, according to our Native Plant Database, but two, Philadelphus inodorus (scentless mock orange) and Philadelphus pubescens (hoary mock orange) are native to Virginia. Close enough, as far as we are concerned. If you purchased this plant commercially, however, it's more likely that it is Philadelphus x virginalis, the "x" meaning it is a hybrid. We ordinarily don't consider hybrids true natives, because of the difficulty of determining their parentage and knowing how the hybridizing affected the qualities of the plant. In this case, we don't think that matters so much, as you are basically asking how to prune a particular woody plant. We found this website from Ed Hume Seeds  Mock Orange, from which we quote a paragraph on Pruning the Mock Orange.

"This is probably the most important step in the care of any mock orange variety. On an established plant one should prune out about one-third of the old growth. On newly planted shrubs, wait until after the second year to do any major pruning. Then at that point it is a good practice to remove old, flowered out wood each year after the plant has finished flowering. Newly developed shoots should be thinned, encouraging those that add best form to the structure of the bush. This pruning will help keep the plant healthy and vigorous and at the same time will confine its height."

Your question concerned pruning to encourage bloom. Of course, pruning the old wood away and clipping off smaller shoots will encourage more bloom on new wood the next year. One thing we might mention about encouraging bloom on a woody plant is that you should be careful to use a fertilizer that is formulated for roses, and avoid high nitrogen lawn-type fertilizers. Too much nitrogen will cause an abundance of leaves and divert energy from blooming. 


Philadelphus inodorus

Philadelphus pubescens

 

 

 

More Pruning Questions

Will suckering of coralberry be a problem in Homewood AL?
November 11, 2010 - I am considering planting Symphoricarpos orbiculatus in the yard of the home I just purchased. I am interested in attracting wildlife to my yard and covering over a stump with a 3' diameter. My onl...
view the full question and answer

Yaupon sprouts from Bennettsville SC
May 29, 2013 - I have Yaupons in a flower bed and they have too many shoots to pull up, can I spray them with roundup and not kill the bush and what strength should I use?
view the full question and answer

Carolina Jasmine failing to turn green in Pleasant Garden NC
April 26, 2011 - We planted Carolina Jasmine last year and it did great. This Spring we only have about 2-3 small green leaves beginning on the vines. We did not cut them back in the Fall. Is it time for them to be tu...
view the full question and answer

Taking down a Century Plant blooming stalk from Fair Oaks Branch TX
August 09, 2013 - Our century cactus looks like it's in the final stages of blooming and I read on your site that the original plant dies. Can we go ahead and cut down the tall blooms?
view the full question and answer

Trimmng and fertilizing yucca
September 07, 2007 - Should I cut the stalks of the Yucca that have already bloomed or wait until they dry? How often should I fertilize?
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.