Choisya Shrub Care: Learn About Choisya Shrub Planting
By: Teo Spengler
If you are looking for tough, water-wise shrubs for your garden, consider choisya plants. Choisya ternata, also called Mexican orange, is an evergreen shrub that bears clusters of fragrant, star-shaped flowers. Choisya shrub care is easy. Read on to find out how to grow choisya.
About Choisya Plants
Choisya shrubs are fast-growing bushes, beloved by gardeners and bees for their star-shaped flowers. Choisya plants blossom in late winter or early spring and hold onto their flowers through fall. Blossoms smell lightly of citrus fragrance and attract lots of bees. They are drought-resistant once established and resist deer too.
The leaves of the choisya grow in groups of three at the ends of branches. These bushes grow up to 8 feet (2+ cm.) tall, and make excellent hedges and privacy screens. They also look great planted together in a border or against a wall.
How to Grow Choisya
The ideal choisya shrub planting area depends on whether your climate is cool or warm. If you live in a cooler region, your choisya shrub planting should occur in full sun. In warm areas, the plants grow well in light or dappled shade, where irregular shadows of tall tree canopies cover about half of the sky. If you plant choisya in too much shade, the plants look spindly and do not flower well.
Choisya shrub care is much easier if you grow the shrubs in well-drained, acidic soil. They do not do well in alkaline soil. Fertile soil is best.
When it comes to planting choisya plants, first add well-rotted manure or organic compost to the soil and work it in well. Dig a hole for each plant, then set the plant in it. Place the root ball so that its top is level with the garden soil. Add soil around the edges of the root ball, then press it into place. Water immediately after planting to firm the soil.
Pruning Choisya Shrubs
Don’t worry too much about pruning choisya shrubs. These evergreens have no special pruning needs, but you can prune the plants to the size you want after they are established. If you prune out older branches, it encourages new shoots to grow.
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Choisya ternata ‘Sundance’
Plant does not flower in January
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Plant does not flower in March
Plant does not flower in April
Plant does flower in June
Plant does not flower in July
Plant does not flower in August
Plant does not flower in September
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Plant does not flower in December
- Botanical name:Choisyaternata 'Sundance'
- Common name: Choisya
- Family: Rutaceae
- Plant Type: Shrub, Evergreen
Choisya ternata ‘Sundance’ is a dome-shaped shrub with bright yellow-green, glossy evergreen foliage, above which clusters of fragrant white flowers appear in late spring. When crushed, the leaves have a distinctive smell, which reminds many gardeners of basil.
Grow Choisya ternata ‘Sundance’ in moist but well-drained soil in partial shade. Prune in summer immediately after flowering.
Choisya Ternata Care
Choisya shrubs are easy to grow and care for. Once established they require little in the way of care and attention and will reward you with abundant flowers and glossy foliage year after year.
The positioning of your plant will depend on its variety. Some will tolerate more shade than others so check the details of the variety you choose. Always position your shrub in a spot that is sheltered from strong winter winds.
In the first year, make sure your shrub does not dry out. Once established, Choisya is a drought resistant shrub and will usually look after itself. They will only need watering during prolonged dry spells. In periods of drought, a thorough soaking weekly will suit them perfectly.
Choisya is happy growing in loam, chalk, sand or clay. They do not require a very rich soil to grow either. The only thing that they cannot tolerate is waterlogged soil as this will cause the roots to rot.
In many cases, your Choisya will not require any fertiliser. In very poor soil you may like to add a handful of blood, fish and bone before planting and then again, each spring. Very heavy or waterlogged soil should have some well-rotted manure and horticultural grit dug in before planting.
You can plant your Choisya at any time of year as long as the soil is not frozen. If you plant it during a very dry period be prepared to water your shrub regularly until it is well established, so don’t plant it just before you go on holiday!
Ideally, plant the shrub in mid-March to April or mid-September to October as at these times the weather is mild but not too hot and the natural rainfall will usually be enough to get them established. If planted at these times you can usually just put them in and forget about them.
Choose a spot that has enough sun for the variety you have chosen and that is protected from strong winds. Allow enough space for them to grow to their full height and spread bearing in mind that some varieties have a spread of 2.5 metres (8 feet).
If the soil is poor, dig in some well-rotted manure before planting. If the soil is waterlogged dig in some well-rotted manure or plenty of horticultural grit to improve drainage.
Dig a hole twice the width of the rootball. Add any fertiliser or grit required. You can also add a handful of blood, fish and bone at this stage to get your shrub off to a good start. Place the plant in the hole so that it is at the same depth as in the pot. Backfill around the roots and firm the soil to remove any air pockets. Water well to settle the soil around the roots.
If you are planting a choisya in a pot its advisable to choose one of the more compact varieties and plant it in a fairly large pot to accommodate plenty of root growth. It will need a good soaking, preferably with rain water, once a week.
When the plants are young, weeding around them will keep them healthy. Once they are larger they will crowd out any weeds themselves. An annual mulch around the shrub will also help keep the weeds at bay as well as retaining moisture. Keep the mulch a few centimetres away from the plants stem to avoid rotting.
If you need to move your shrub some care should be taken to make sure you do not damage the roots too much. Damage to the roots can mean the plant struggles to get enough water and nutrients. The best solution is to prune the shrub back in June so that there is less top growth for the plant to support and then move it in autumn. Try to dig up as much of the root ball as possible though if the plant is large you may not be able to get all the roots. Add a little blood fish and bone to the new hole to help the plant recover and keep it well watered if the weather is dry.
Plant grown in containers may need some extra winter protection as they are more susceptible to frost damage. Place the plant in a sheltered position such as an open porch or in a sheltered corner. You can also protect your shrub with bubble wrap around the pots to keep the roots cosy. If you put your plant under cover remember to water, it regularly over winter. In extreme conditions, you can move the pot into a shed, greenhouse, or even a garage for a week or two.
You should repot your choisya when its roots fill the existing pot. Choose a container that is large enough to accommodate a good amount of root growth. This will also mean in requires less frequent watering and will also help to protect the roots during cold spells
Looks good with
Choisya ternata is a versatile shrub that looks good in both an urban garden or a more cottage style scheme. The leaves and flowers are scented, and the aroma of the leaves is released as you brush past it. Combined with other fragrant plants or herbs this would make a good choice for around a path or seating area.
This shrub is also a useful addition to a mixed border as it adds height, structure and winter interest. ‘Sundance’ is particularly good in a warm, bright border surrounded by other sunshine loving plants. The shrub looks good in a coastal style garden and will tolerate salty conditions as long as it is not too exposed to sea breezes.
These shrubs do not really require pruning. However, if you do want to prune them to keep them to a certain size it’s best to do this immediately after the major flowering period is over, usually around mid-June. You can cut it back to around half its size. You may also like to cut back some of the woody stems from the centre of the shrub which will encourage fresh new growth. A sprinkle of blood, fish and bone will help the plant recover after pruning.
Planting and Growing Choisya
Grow in a sheltered sunny position in any good, well drained, moderately fertile soil. Best in full sun but will tollerate partial shade.
A good architectural plant for the border, with solid form and shape. As a reliable evergreen, it can be used as a screen or background for other plants.
Plant outside in early autumn or spring, in a position sheltered from cold wind. Container grown plants can be planted out at any reasonable time of year.
In very cold regions grow it in a container or large pot that can be moved to a sheltered spot for the winter. Ideal for a sunny patio.
How should I prune Choisya ‘Sundance’?
Sue Sanderson – our horticulturist expert
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Fertilize in the spring with compost or well-rotted manure. New plants will require extra phosphorus to develop a strong root system.
Little pruning is required but can be performed to maintain the desired shape and size. Occasionally the shrub will experience dieback of many leaves, and in those cases, it should be cut back. Mexican orange will tolerate being cut back to the ground, if necessary. Some gardeners choose to prune the plant back after flowering to achieve a more formal appearance.