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How to Transplant Mock Oranges

By Diane Dilov-Schultheis ; Updated September 21, 2017
Dig the new hole first when you are transplanting mock oranges.

Mock orange, or Philadelphus lewisii, is a deciduous flowering shrub that is commonly called California mock orange or Lewis’ mock orange. This erect to spreading shrub is native to western North America and can grow to more than 10 feet tall. Mock oranges will produce hundreds of white, fragrant blossoms along its extending branches from spring to the middle of summer. The best time to transplant mock orange is while the shrub is dormant at the end of winter.

Water the mock orange shrub well a day or two prior to the transplant date. Use twine to tie up the branches on the shrub, if they are long and interfere when you move the plant.

Dig the new hole before you dig up the mock orange so you can plant it right away. Find a site with partial shade to full sun and well-draining soil. Make the depth of the hole 2 feet and the width 4 to 6 feet.

Measure out a 2- to 3-foot diameter circle around the mock orange’s trunk. Use a sharp spade to sever the roots at this measurement. Dig down from 18 to 24 inches and cut through any roots beneath the mock orange plant.

Lift one side of the mock orange’s root ball and place a tarp underneath. Slowly pull the tarp beneath the roots and use it to move the entire shrub to the new hole. Measure the depth of the actual root ball and make adjustments to the hole’s depth by adding or removing soil.

Place the mock orange in the center of the hole. Fill the hole partially full and then tamp the soil around the shrub’s root ball. Completely fill the hole and tamp the soil again and then flood the area with water to soak the soil to the depth of the root ball. Untie the twine holding the branches up.

Add a 3-inch layer of mulch around the entire planting hole or the width of the mock orange’s canopy. This prevents weeds from interfering with the roots and holds moisture in the soil.

Water the mock orange deeply every 10 days throughout the next three growing seasons to allow the shrub to become established. Do not water if it rains at least 1 inch or during the winter.


Things You Will Need

  • Twine
  • Measuring tape
  • Spade
  • Tarp
  • Mulch

About the Author


Diane Dilov-Schultheis has been writing professionally since 2000. She is a food and travel writer who also specializes in gaming, satellites, RV repair, gardening, finances and electronics. She is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists and has been published online at the Travel Channel and Intel.