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Choisya - Growing Guide

Choisya - Growing Guide

Mexican orange blossom

These popular plants originate from rocky slopes in the SW USA into Mexico. Despite their origins they have proved perfectly hardy in most UK conditions and seem to enjoy our higher rainfall levels. At Caerhays we have grown Choisya ternata against the castle wall in a shady damp corner facing southerly gales for over 50 years. Despite a few rigorous and successful periodic prunings it always produces two crops of fragrant white flowers in late spring and, again, in late autumn. An utterly reliable plant for brightening up a dank corner although the reference books say this is best grown in full sun!

In more recent years breeders have developed new cultivars and varieties of Choisya which has extended the choice and variety of plants available within this genus as listed below.

Choisya have palmate and aromatic leathery leaves and star-shaped white flowers in cymes or corymbs. They suit the shrub border or being planted up against a wall.

Choisya ternata ‘Sundance’ has stunning yellow (rather than green) new growth foliage which fades to yellow-green by mid-summer. If you grow this in full sun the leaves may bleach to a slightly unsightly white. When grown in shade the foliage effect is much better and more long lasting but, we find, you do not seem to get many flowers. C. ternata grows with us to around 5-6ft with a similar spread. It is a compact and dense shrub. C. ternata ‘Sundance’ is not quite as vigorous especially in full sun.

Then we come to the newer hybrid introductions from new breeding between C. ternata and C. arizonica. The choice of varieties is growing.

Choisya x dewitteana ‘Apple Blossom’ is the first Choisya to have bicoloured pink and white flowers which are heavily scented. This is a compact shrub.

‘Aztec Gold’ has lime green and gold foliage. Very free flowering.

‘Aztec Pearl’ is a dome shaped shrub which grows to 6-8ft in maturity. It has pink buds and the flowers are white with a pink tinge.

‘Goldfingers’ has been around for a while and has narrower golden leaves.

‘White Dazzler’ is a free flowering but much more compact cultivar suitable for smaller locations.

x ‘Scented Gem’ is a recent new introduction to our catalogue with fragrant white flowers from pink buds.

Choisya can readily be propagated from semi-ripe root cuttings taken in mid-summer and given bottom heat in the mist bench. Pruning is largely unnecessary except to tidy up a plant periodically. If your plant does get too large you can hack it back and allow it to reshoot with no ill effect.
 


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