The Mock Orange - Philadelphus varieties - are well known for their heady scent - especially on an early summer morning or evening! Correct pruning is essential for this group of early summer flowering shrubs.
Prune too early and you will lose the flower buds for the current year. Prune too late and the shrub will not have enough time in the growing season to provide flowering stems for the following year. Don't panic - we are here with information and advice upon when and how to prune your Philadelphus.
There are several Philadelphus - Mock Oranges - that need regular annual pruning in order to flower well with a spectacular display in early summer. We take you through the simple procedure of pruning Philadelphus to ensure that you have a stunning show of pure white flowers year after year.
Philadelphus Belle Etoile - One of the less vigorous varieties, noted for the light purple centre to the pure white flower. © David Hughes 2008
Most shrubs that flower at this time of year (early summer - image taken 17th June) depend upon flowering stems that were grown by the plant in the previous year (Growing season). If you prune Philadelphus too late - late summer or autumn- fall - for instance, then the shrub will not have enough time to make flowering stems ready for the following year.
The secret of correct pruning is not really a secret at all - You just need to know when and how to prune your Mock Orange Tree.
As soon as the shrub had finished flowering, cut out all of the stems which have just flowered. Prune them back to around a third of their length. They will soon start to produce new stems which will provide the flowering stems for next year. Do not just prune little bits off the end. Prune right back into the bush.
Once that bit of pruning has been done, then we (you) go on to the next stage of pruning. Pruning out around one in three of all the old stems - but right back to near ground level. We are talking about a few inches above the ground here.
The varieties of Mock Orange that can be pruned in this way include ... Philadelphus Avalanche, P. Beauclerk, P. Belle Etoile, P. coronarius Aureus - good hard pruning for this variety to get that beautiful bright golden foliage - Philadelphus Innocence, P. Lemoinei, P. maneau d'Hermine, P Mont Blanc and of course the double flowered Philadelphus Virginal - sometimes called P. Virginalis. All other Philadelphus that flower at this time should have pruning as above.
A great list of pure white flowers with varying degrees of scent!
This hard pruning of old stems, will prompt the shrub to send out new basal growths, which will provide good flowering branch framework for subsequent years, resulting in a fresh looking shrub. Do a further pruning of a third of old stems in subsequent years.