How to Grow & Prune Mock Orange


The mock orange (Philadelphus coronarius), also called an English dogwood, is an upright branching shrub that produces fragrant white flowers in the spring. It is suitable for growing in USDA zones 4 to 9. The mock orange is native to southern Europe. It is related to the hydrangea and is not related to dogwoods or orange trees. The mock orange shrub reaches a height of 5 to 8 feet in ideal conditions. It forms clumps of roots that can be divided in the winter and replanted in other areas of the garden to create more plants.

Step 1

Find a location in full sun to partial shade to plant your mock orange shrub. The location should be well-drained. The shrub should not be allowed to sit in boggy or wet soil. A full-sun location is one that receives six hours or more of full sunlight each day; partial shade is four or more hours of sunlight. Exposure to morning sun is better than lengthy exposure to harsh afternoon sun.

Step 2

Plant the mock orange at the same level it was in the planting container. If planting a bare root plant, look for a soil or water line above the roots, and plant to that level. Make the hole big enough so the roots can spread out easily. Mix compost into the planting soil at a rate of 25 percent compost to 75 percent soil. Place the compost-soil mixture around the roots while replanting. Add water while refilling the planting hole to get a good seal of soil around the roots and avoid leaving air pockets. Air pockets cause roots to dry out and can harm the overall health of the plant.

Step 3

Water the mock orange every two weeks if there is no rain and especially if the summer is unusually dry. Allow the water to run over the root base long enough to deeply soak the roots. Withhold water during the winter period unless you are growing divisions from another plant; then water the divisions every two weeks if there is no rainfall.

Step 4

Fertilize the mock orange with a balanced garden fertilizer that is suitable for blooming shrubs. Fertilize one time in late winter with the amount recommended on the label. Too much fertilizer encourages excessive green growth and decreases bloom production.

Step 5

Prune a mock orange right after it blooms. Don't shear off the top to one level, as you would prune a hedge. Instead, look for the longest cane you want to remove and cut off the entire cane at ground level. New growth will appear the next spring from the ground and fill out the Mock Orange shrub from the bottom. If the mock orange is rangy and not bushy, cut all limbs to the ground after the bloom period with a pair of garden shears. New, bushier growth will appear from the base of the plant, and the plant will have a better overall shape. However, it will not bloom the next spring, but the following one.

Things You'll Need

  • Shovel
  • Compost
  • Mulch
  • Pruning tool
  • Balanced garden fertilizer


  • NDSU: Questions on: Mock Orange
  • NC State University: Sweet Mock Orange
  • MSU Cares: English Dogwoods (Mock Orange)
  • USDA: Horticultural Zone Map
Keywords: mock orange, english dogwood, blooming shrub

About this Author

Based in Rockdale Texas, Jim Gober has been writing garden-related articles for 25 years. His articles appear in several Texas newspapers including The Rockdale Reporter, The Lexington Leader, The Cameron Herald and The Hearne Democrat. He is a Master Gardener and Certified Texas Nursery and Landscape Professional. He holds bachelor degrees in English Writing from St. Edward's University and Finance from Lamar University.