A Hardy Mockorange

Philadelphus lewisii \'Blizzard\' blossom tall.jpgPhiladelphus lewisii ‘Blizzard’ (blizzard mockorange) is a great shrub for the northern shade garden. It has attractive foliage, and a nice overall shape, not awkward like other mockoranges can be. It grows about 1.5 metres (5 feet) tall, making it easy to fit into a small backyard. It is extra hardy and can tolerate shade.

The white blossoms of Blizzard are beautiful with a light scent and noticeable yellow stamens. This variety blooms for about 3 weeks in June and July in my garden.

The stems are red with medium green leaves. Blizzard mockorange keeps looking good over the winter, because of these decorative stems.

Philadelphus lewisii \'Blizzard\' (mockorange) red stem

Philadelphus lewisii ‘Blizzard’ was originally selected from one growing in Alberta, and was introduced in Canada. I have found this shrub to be very hardy, surviving over the winter and blooming in the summer, while other mockoranges can be borderline hardy in zone 3. My Philadelphus virginalis has never bloomed  in a semi-shade exposure. I’m not sure if this is because of the light exposure, the cold, or an individual quirk.

The P. lewisii ‘Blizzard’ only gets an hour or two of direct sun, and then some dappled or indirect sun the rest of the day. It would probably have more blooms in the sun, but I’m pleased to find a great shrub that flowers in this exposure.

I would recommend the Philadelphus lewisii ‘Blizzard’, if you are looking for a small to medium shrub that tolerates a cold climate, blooms in medium shade, has decorative winter stems, and exquisite white flowers.

Here is another post with more photos and information of my Philadelphus lewisii ‘Blizzard’, and this post has more about ‘Blizzard’, too.

Philadelphus lewisii \'Blizzard\' (mockorange) 2 blooms

You can read about my hardy Hydrangea shrubs, which do well in the shade.

27 thoughts on “A Hardy Mockorange”

  1. This Mock Orange sounds like the perfect shrub! Do you think he would like living in the South? Zone 6b? Lots of humidity and drought in the summers? ;-) I love Mock Orange! For years I never noticed the bloom on the ones in my back yard, it might not have bloomed! But this spring it was a glorious mass of blossoms. unfortunately…no fragrance! I’m really liking this variety.


  2. In our garden I grow two philadelphus virginalis, which has almost the same flowers as your plant. One of my plants has double filled blooms and a wonderful scent, the other has normals flowers and almost no fragrance. But both are winterhardy, and that’s important for our garden too. I’m going to look whether philadelphus lewisii “Blizzard” is available or not.

  3. This is an interesting post. This is a shrub that would probably do well here. I’m interested in it, because we have a lot of shade. The trees just keep getting larger.

  4. Gail, Blizzard is supposed to be hardy to zone 7. The name is supposed to refer to the number of blossoms as much as its cold hardiness. In sun it gets a lot more flowers, but I’m satisfied with a moderate amount of blooms in the shade.
    Maybe my P. virginalis will surprise me one summer and bloom.

    Barbara, Your P. virginalis with the double flowers and scent sounds great. I’ve debated about moving my P. virginalis to a sunnier area to see if it would bloom, but I’m short on sunny exposures.
    I recommend the P. lewisii ‘Blizzard’, if you can find it.

  5. Barbee, I love my trees, but as they grow and create more shade, I have to find more shade tolerant plants too. I have been happy with how well the Blizzard variety did in the shade.

    Deb, my P. virginalis mockorange has lanky and awkward branches that form a loose shape. Some of the long thin branches stick out at odd angles. However, the P. lewisii ‘Blizzard’ mockorange has a much nicer shape. It is more compact and bushy in comparison.

  6. I have a P. virginalis mockorange, planted in full sun and it blooms wonderfully. It is now reaching well over 7 feet tall, and we find it to be a lovely screen off our deck. When it blooms, the smell is beautiful when you’re out there in the evening (before those lousy ‘skitters show up!)

    Love your blog. Thanks for the inspiration.

  7. Leah, my P. virginalis does makes a good privacy privacy screen, but it’s probably longing for a little more sun to bloom. A wonderful scent and privacy screening are good attributes, now if only they would work more on hybridizing it for mosquito repelling traits.

  8. Hi Dee, you have to be careful with the timing of pruning. You don’t want to prune it in fall, or you’ll interfere with next year’s blooms. They can take some shade, but for most types, they won’t bloom as well in too much shade. I find that ‘Blizzard’ handles the shade better than my basic P. virginalis. Also, most don’t do as well in colder zones. That’s why I like ‘Blizzard’ mockorange. It handles a cold winter well, and still flowers.

  9. Thanks for the information on the Mockorange vs the Hydrangea, I bought a Blizzard Mockorange today, and it’s just about to bloom. Could you tell me what size yours is? The tag on mine says it will be about 4×2, but the catalogue lists it as 5×5, either would work for the spot, but I’m just wondering how they grow.

    Also, I was able to find a Dicentra spectabilis ‘alba’. :)

  10. Hi,
    I planted a blizzard mockorange about a month ago and it bloomed and was growing well. Now in the last week, the blooms fell off and it has shriveled and the brown steps are becoming spotty white. Is it an insect or what? Help. :(


    1. BrendaK, the blooms usually last for about that long, and would normally fall off after a month.

      I’m not sure what the white spots on your stems are. Are they soft like mealy bugs, or is it like a fungus of some type? I haven’t had any problems with mine. If it seems isolated to a few stems, I would cut them off and remove them from the garden.

  11. Thanks for the response. Now that I look at it more, the stems are actually peeling and the white is showing underneath the brown. It seems to still be growing though, but no flowers and still wilted leaves.


    1. Brendak, the older stems on my blizzard have a bit of a peeling texture, with white striations visible. I think this is normal.

      Did your mockorange already flower? Mine only flower for about 3 weeks, and then the blossoms are done. They are such pretty blooms, that I wish they would flower for longer, but this is normal for most flowering shrubs.

  12. My daughter has the mock orange in her yard, and i’m wondering how I would be able to take some of her plant and start it in my own yard, if it is possible.

    1. Jeanette, I haven’t propagated mockorange from cuttings, but they should be successful. The new growth (freshest stems) would be best. I would take 10 cm (4 or 5 inch) cuttings, strip the bottom leaves and and put them in a potting mix. A cut below a node (where the buds or leaf emerge) is best for cuttings. When I do other cuttings, I often put a bag over them to keep them moist.

      It should be fun to try some cuttings, although it would take awhile for them to grow.

  13. My Mockorange was on my property when we bought our house many years ago. It’s gotten way too ‘rangy’ and I want to take it out. I need something with late summer color. Any suggestions? I’m Zone 6. The mockorange seems to naturalize on woody runners. I’ve found sprouts many feet away from the main tree. How to I ‘get’ it all out? The old-fashioned way of being sure to pull out all roots?

    1. Anne, the regular mockorange (Philadelphus virginalis) can develop an awkward shape. If you wanted to keep it, you could try cutting back a third of the older main branches right to the ground, and repeat for the next two years, until all of the older branches are gone. Then you will get better new growth, but its habit tends to be long branches at different angles. You will probably have to get as much of the roots as you can, if you want to take it out and it is sending up new growth.

      I like the Philadelphus lewisii better, because I find the growth more compact and rounded, with a pleasing overall shape.

      Here, the Hydrangea shrubs bloom in late summer, and give wonderful colour. They are looking great right now, but might bloom earlier in your zone. As the flowers fade, they can still look decorative into fall.

  14. I am hoping to plant a fragrant shrub outside of my bedroom window — I’m between the Blizzard Mockorange and Emerald Mound Honeysuckle. Which would be more fragrant?



    1. Ken, I haven’t planted that honeysuckle, but Blizzard Mockorange does have a fantastic scent, and when the blossoms are all open, the scent does carry a ways.

  15. I planted a blizzard mockorange 3 weeks ago – all green leaves fell off and there is only the brown stems left. If I bend the main stems it is not dry. It may have got frozen as the cool wind has been horrible here. Will it come back if I leave it in the ground or should I go and find another to replace it and plant it when the temp is a bit warmer?

    1. Rhonda, did you buy it from a reputable nursery? It is possible that if it dried out before you bought it, that it was never healthy. Were there still hard frosts when you planted it? It is also possible that it had transplant shock. Did it get a good watering after you planted it? It might get better if the stems are still green underneath. I would wait to see if it gets better.

  16. I planted a mock orange bush in the spring and it bloomed and was beautiful. Now it looks thin and sparce. I had to relocate it because it was in a spot in my garden that the soil was not well drained. It started to look thin before i moved it. Do you think ut will survive and is there anything i can do to help it thicken up since it is early August? It may not be the right time to fertilize…….

    1. Pam, is it a common mockorange, Philadelphus virginalis? If it is, they tend to be more scraggly, with longer and thinner branches that can look sparse. The Philadelphus lewisii have a more compact and rounded shape.

      Or are the branches themselves loosing leaves?

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