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A mock orange shrub is a plant with flowers resembling those of orange and lemon plants. The flowers smell similar to orange and jasmine. Mock orange shrub is popular in gardens and parks, where it is prized for its reliable blooming season in the late spring, and for the pleasant scent of its flowers. The plant can also make an attractive privacy screen.
Mock orange refers to any shrub in the genus Philadelphus. There are about 60 different species of mock orange shrub, native to North America, Asia, and southeast Europe. Hybrid species exist as well.
The shrubs grow from three to 20 feet (one to six meters) tall, and the flowers are about one inch (two and a half centimeters) in diameter. All species of mock orange shrub have dark green foliage and white flowers. While most mock orange flowers are fragrant, some species have no scent. Most mock orange shrubs are deciduous, meaning the leaves fall off in the autumn, but a few are evergreen, meaning they have leaves year round.
One species of mock orange shrub, Philadelphus lewisii or Lewis's Mock Orange, is the state flower of Idaho. Lewis's Mock Orange was historically used by Native Americans both as a carving material and as a soap. The plant's hard wood was used to manufacture hunting tools, furniture, pipes, and snowshoes, while the leaves and bark were soaked in water to make soap.
A mock orange shrub can be propagated by bare root, seed, or container, though it can be slow to grow from seeds. The plant requires full sunlight and average amounts of water, and has a low tolerance for shade and drought. The soil can be supplemented with compost or peat moss to promote plant growth.
In order to promote flower growth, it is important to prune the plant immediately after flowering in the spring. Prune just below buds and shoots, and remove any dead or wilted branches. The scent and appearance of the flowers of mock orange shrubs vary greatly, even within the same species sometimes, so it is important to see a plant in bloom before choosing it for one's garden.