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How to Propagate Mock Orange Shrubs

Mock oranges (Philadelphus coronarius) are large deciduous shrubs that have upright to arching, vase-shaped forms. They have fragrant white flowers in the late spring or early summer, and dry seedpods in the fall. Mock oranges prefer full sun or partial shade in moist, well-drained soil. They are hardy in zones 4 to 8.

Take cuttings in early morning, while the stems are firm with water. Use a sharp knife or hand pruners to cut stems at an angle. Choose vigorous stems without any buds or flowers from the upper portion of the plant. Place the cuttings in a plastic bag with a wet paper towel until you are ready to plant them.

Fill pots or trays that are 4 to 6 inches deep with sterile rooting medium.

Cut the leaves from the bottom two-thirds of softwood cuttings. Make a fresh cut at an angle on the end of each softwood or hardwood cutting. Insert the cuttings in rooting hormone and shake the excess powder off. Insert the bottom third of the softwood cuttings and the bottom half of the hardwood cuttings in the pots or trays of rooting medium.

Firm the rooting medium around each cutting so that it remains upright. Place the cuttings in a shady location and water thoroughly.

Place the pots and trays in a clear plastic bag or cover them with clear plastic to maintain the humidity around the cuttings. Water the cuttings when the condensation on the bags disappears. Do not let the rooting medium dry out and do not over water.

Gently pull a cutting out of the rooting medium after a few weeks to check for roots. The cuttings may take from several weeks to several months to form roots, based on the type of plant, kind of cutting and temperature. When the roots are 1 inch long, plant each cutting in a 4-to-6 inch pot filled with potting soil. Leave the pot in a shady location for one to two seasons until the root systems are well established.


Softwood refers to the current season’s growth that is succulent, not woody, and breaks easily when bent. Take softwood cuttings in May, June or July, while the plant is actively growing. Each softwood cutting should be 4 to 6 inches long.

Hardwood refers to firm, dormant wood that does not bend easily and does not show any signs of growth. Take hardwood cuttings in late fall to early winter, while the plant is dormant. Each hardwood cutting should be 8 to 10 inches long, and ¼ to 1 inch in diameter. Rooting medium can be coarse sand, vermiculite or a half-and-half combination of fine sand and peat moss, perlite and peat moss, or perlite and vermiculite.

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