Northern Shade Gardening

Philadelphus Lewisii Blizzard

Monday, July 5, 2010 Category: Trees and Shrubs

Philadelphus lewisii ‘Blizzard’ (Blizzard mockorange) is a compact and hardy shrub that blooms reliably in part shade and a cold climate. It produces loads of pretty flowers every year, with a delicious scent. ‘Blizzard’ is my favourite shrub for the shade in a northern climate.

Philadelphus lewisii 'Blizzard' mockorange flowers

Philadelphus lewisii 'Blizzard' mockorange flowers

‘Blizzard’ is a more dwarf shrub than the standard mockorange, with a better shape. Philadelphus virginalis (mockorange) can have a rangy habit, with long branches sticking out at angles. However, Philadelphus lewisii ‘Blizzard’ has more of a rounded shape, with a compact form and good branching. This makes for an attractive looking shrub, even when it is not blooming. The smaller size, about 1.2 m (4 feet) tall and wide, makes it easy to fit into a mixed garden bed.

Philadelphus lewisii 'Blizzard' mockorange flower closeup

Philadelphus lewisii 'Blizzard' mockorange flower closeup

However, ‘Blizzard’ mockorange really earns its space in the garden in early summer when the snowy flowers cover it. The pure white blossoms are gorgeous, with four simple petals, and a cluster of golden anthers in the middle. ‘Blizzard’ has been a very reliable bloomer for me. This hardy shrub flowers every year, even after a cold winter, or late spring frosts and snow.

Philadelphus lewisii 'Blizzard' mockorange white flowers

Philadelphus lewisii 'Blizzard' mockorange white flowers

In the photo above, you can see how the mockorange flowers are clustered at the end of every small lateral branch.  The shrub is bejewelled with the beautiful blooms, for almost three weeks.

Philadelphus lewisii 'Blizzard' mockorange flower cluster

Philadelphus lewisii 'Blizzard' mockorange flower cluster

The mockorange scent is wonderful, and one shrub manages to perfume my patio when all of the blooms are fully open. The fragrance is the icing on the cake for the pretty blooms. My Philadelphus flowers from the end of June to the middle of July in zone 3. The lilacs have finished by then, so this is  a good successive shrub for delightful garden scent.

Philadelphus lewisii 'Blizzard' mockorange shrub overall

Philadelphus lewisii 'Blizzard' mockorange shrub overall

This is one of the few northern shrubs that you can depend on to give a good flower display in the shade. Mine is sited to get some early morning sun for less than a couple of hours, yet it puts out a full set of blooms.

I highly recommend Philadelphus lewisii ‘Blizzard’ for its reliable blooming in a northern climate, shade tolerance, attractive shape and lovely fragrance. You can read more information and see more photos about this mockorange in this post from last year.

30 Responses to “Philadelphus Lewisii Blizzard” »

  1. Rebecca @ In The Garden :
    July 5, 2010 at 8:29 am

    Beautiful post Northern! As you know, it is a favorite here too. It seems to fill a gap in the flowering shrubs, after the lilacs are done, and before the hydrangeas get going. Speaking of which, I was wondering how yours are? Mine have about 12-18″ of new growth (no growth on old branches), with no signs of flowering. Not sure if this is normal for them? ~Rebecca

  2. Diane :
    July 5, 2010 at 8:47 am

    Absolutely stunning. I have one, too, but I just planted it. It’s not growing very much, but it’s still alive. No blooms this year. I’m not sure what variety it is, but I’ll look it up.

  3. Northern Shade :
    July 5, 2010 at 8:57 am

    Rebecca, it is handy that it blooms now, when there aren’t any other flowering shrubs out in my garden. I’ve been looking around the garden this week, to see if there is room for another ‘Blizzard’ anyplace.

    My Hydrangea had some dieback on some branches this year, the most ever, but not nearly as you are describing. I’m not sure about the flowering buds yet, but I’ll know more in a month.

  4. Northern Shade :
    July 5, 2010 at 9:00 am

    Diane, the reason this sneaked ahead of Hydrangea for my favourite shade shrub, is because of the delightful scent. I smell it every time I go out my back door now.

  5. Jeff :
    July 5, 2010 at 9:22 am

    Cool plant – I love all the photos.

  6. Katarina :
    July 5, 2010 at 9:28 am

    It looks absolutely gorgeous! I wonder if it’s hardy enough for us?

  7. Northern Shade :
    July 5, 2010 at 9:47 am

    Jeff, northern shady gardens don’t have quite the range of shrubs to choose from as warmer zones. The Philadelphus, and a few Hydrangea are some of the extra showy ones for reliable flowering here.

    Katarina, last winter our temperatures dropped to -40°C (-40°F) and it is still blooming well. We also had snow at the very end of May, and I thought the late frosts might lower the bud count, but the shrub really performs well.

  8. Laura :
    July 5, 2010 at 10:31 am

    I love a good Mock Orange! Looking back it may have been a better to plant a smaller shrub version like yours. 5 years on, I’ll survive my own choices, and eventually come out of the pruning curve with my mammoth bush. Still worth it though :)

  9. Northern Shade :
    July 5, 2010 at 10:58 am

    Laura, I have a Philadelphus virginalis (standard mockorange) as well, but it is not a reliable bloomer for me. However, it does give better privacy on that side, and a green backdrop.

  10. Marit :
    July 5, 2010 at 12:45 pm

    It is a beauty in your garden! It is funny that almost the same tree blooms here too. I have a double form of Philadelphus who was here when I bought this garden, so I do not know the name on it. It is old, and that is all I know about it.
    I have bought a new hydrangea with double flowers, but I am not sure if it is hardy enough here. Does yours freeze down in winter?

  11. Northern Shade :
    July 5, 2010 at 2:09 pm

    Marit, the double Philadelphus would be very pretty.

    I’ve found the most successful Hydrangea here in zone 3 are the H. paniculata and Hydrangea arborescens ‘Annabelle’. The branches of H. paniculata don’t usually die back at all, but some did this year. My Annabelle ends up getting pruned back every winter, because it is where the snow from the porch ends up getting tossed.

  12. Linda :
    July 6, 2010 at 10:23 am

    Fabulous shrub and scented to boot! Looks like I’ve yet another item on my wishlist. As always, thanks for sharing.

  13. Northern Shade :
    July 6, 2010 at 11:02 am

    Linda, I’ve been very pleased with how well Philadelphus lewisii ‘Blizzard’ performs compared to Philadelphus virginalis. I’m not sure if it just handles the cold of zone 3 better, or if it also handles the shade better, but it always puts on a great flower show. Plus, the shrub shape is much more appealing.

  14. The Garden Ms. S :
    July 6, 2010 at 9:47 pm

    Hi Northern, Lovely photos! Good to know this shrub came through the past winter so well. I think if it made it through that then it will make it through anything. It also sounds like a vast improvement over some really large, dense mock orange that were at our last place. By the time we moved there they were almost unprunable.

    I have to say, these shrubs could be hideous and I would still love them for their scent. It is irresistable!

  15. Northern Shade :
    July 6, 2010 at 10:07 pm

    The Garden Ms. S, I was pleased to see the flower buds forming this spring, as I wasn’t sure how it would fare. I especially wondered if the frosts at the end of May would hurt the buds, but it doesn’t seem fazed. I’m alternating between sniffing the mockorange and the peony this week.

  16. Kathleen :
    July 6, 2010 at 11:58 pm

    It’s absolutely gorgeous. I’ve been trying to think of a spot to plant a mock orange for several years now and haven’t quite figured it out (unless I dig up some more grass!) I’ll have to remember ‘Blizzard’ when the time comes ~ it sounds like the perfect size & shape.

  17. Northern Shade :
    July 7, 2010 at 6:48 am

    Kathleen, it is easier to fit ‘Blizzard’ into a border with other plants, because of the compact shape.

  18. Brooke :
    July 9, 2010 at 7:45 pm

    Hello! Reading all of your posts about mock oranges has me jealous.
    I have 2 that I planted about 7 years ago. They have
    yet to bloom! otherwise the foliage looks pretty.
    Been trying to find out why but no success.
    I had several small blooms but that’s it. Any ideas??
    Pruning or shearing needed?
    Thanks! Brooke in Maine

  19. Northern Shade :
    July 9, 2010 at 8:06 pm

    Brooke, my Philadelphus virginalis (regular mockorange) has not been as good at flowering. I’m not sure if it is because of the cold of zone 3, the shade, or something else. However, Philadelphus lewisii ‘Blizzard’ has been a far better bloomer, without any fussing. Blizzard seems to be a superior variety, with shade and cold tolerance. I’ve done very little pruning on it. I think the good flowering is mostly due to the hardiness of this variety of Lewis mockorange.

    If you’re going to prune mockorange, do it right after blooming, since it flowers on last year’s wood, so it won’t interfere with next year’s flowers.

  20. Denise :
    May 17, 2011 at 3:42 pm

    I’m sitting on my front porch right now admiring the 2 Blizzards that I just bought after reading your site. They will be situated between 2 Miss Kims on either side of my front door. I’m in Edmonton as well and love that you have such great success stories with your plants!

  21. Northern Shade :
    May 17, 2011 at 6:15 pm

    Denise, the Blizzards and lilacs will make a lovely entrance garden. Both shrubs should make a wonderfully perfumed entry way when they are in bloom. With luck, and depending on the size of the shrub, you might even get some blooms on ‘Blizzard’ this year. I got a moderate amount the first year, and then a really good show from the next year on.

  22. Denise :
    July 23, 2011 at 8:36 pm

    Wow, you weren’t kidding! The blossoms are wonderful and there were so many considering it was their first year, I can only imagine what kind of show they will put on next year. I did notice some aphids on the tips of a few branches while it was blooming but the ants seemed to keep them under control for the most part. They are in full sun for most of the day and needed quite a bit of water this year to keep from wilting, I’m hoping that as they mature that issue will resolve itself. I was so impressed with the fragrance that I’d like to put a couple more in the back yard near the deck, you mentioned that your shrub only gets a couple hours of sunlight but still blooms reliably? Where I would like to plant it would get that at a maximum.

  23. Northern Shade :
    July 23, 2011 at 9:25 pm

    Denise, I enjoyed the wonderful scent for the last three weeks, but now my mockorange has finished flowering for the year. It is planted right next to my patio, near my backdoor, so I can enjoy the sweet perfume as soon as I go into the back yard, or when I sit out on the patio. It’s a great idea to plant it near your deck where you can enjoy the fragrance.

    ‘Blizzard’ has been a very reliable bloomer for me every year. It is sited to get about 2 hours of morning sun. There is a large willow on the south side of my shrub that only lets a tiny bit of dappled light filter through after that. I’ve been very pleased with the tremendous number of flowers it always produces in these challenging light conditions.

  24. Leslie :
    June 12, 2012 at 11:37 am

    When should I plant blizzard? What kind of soil does it like? THANKS!!

  25. Northern Shade :
    June 12, 2012 at 12:03 pm

    Leslie, it depends on where you garden. If you are in a cooler zone like zone 3, you can plant it any time from spring to fall and it should do okay. Though if it is during the heat of summer, you’ll want to give it extra watering. You don’t want to plant it too late in fall, as it is better to let it get established before the winter. If you are in a warmer gardening zone, you would be better off planting it in spring or fall, and avoiding the harsh conditions of summer.

  26. Mary-Anne :
    July 17, 2013 at 9:50 pm

    I love the pics – they are particularly beautiful. And, I appreciate the information- excellent!! I live in Calgary, Alberta & I think this shrub will thrive and perform beautifully.
    I am planning a moon garden, all white and want to incorporate ‘Blizzard’ into it. Perhaps even use it through-out the garden for visual flow. Question: what do you think of ‘Blizzard’ with the following:
    - in between a nine bark ‘Diablo’ and white Annabelle hyrangeas
    - beside a Japanese tree lilac with hostas
    - using it through out garden with other white-blooming shrubs? can you recommend any?
    Thank you!
    Mary-Anne

  27. Northern Shade :
    July 18, 2013 at 1:16 pm

    Mary-Anne, I like your ideas for combining ‘Blizzard’ in your garden. I think Hostas with some white margins, like ‘Patriot’, ‘Francee’ and ‘Ginko Craig’ would work well, or ‘Night Before Christmas’, which has a white centre. I grow all 4 and they perform well here. Another nice low growing shade perennial with white flowers is Aruncus aethusifolius (dwarf goatsbeard). It is about 30 cm tall with white spikes for about 3 weeks in summer. Astilbe ‘Diamont’ has white fluffy plumes and Astilbe ‘Younique White’ has bright white blooms for about 3 weeks and does well in the shade, too. I have an article I wrote last fall, but then never posted, which has pictures of ‘Younique White’ in it. I’ll get it up today, so you can see pictures of this attractive Astilbe. It will be on the home page.

    For early spring in your shady areas, you could add Sanguinaria canadensis ‘Flore Pleno’ (bloodroot), which has exquisite double white blooms. You could tuck some early white spring bulbs in amongst the perennials, like Chionodoxa luciliae ‘Alba’, or Crocus chrysanthus ‘Snow Bunting’ in sunny areas. They flower before the perennials, and then the perennials hide their dying leaves.

    Some white flowering Hydrangea that I grow are ‘Annabelle’,’Little Lamb’, and the basic H. paniculata ‘Grandiflora’ (peegee).

    I hope that your garden did not get flooded out recently.

  28. GJ :
    September 22, 2013 at 6:50 pm

    Hi,
    I live in western Oregon and the species Philadelphus Lewisii has a wonderful fragrance that one can smell a good ten or fifteen feet away. However, ‘Blizzard’ is a smaller size than the species and is a better fit for my garden. I noticed that in your earlier post you said ‘Blizzard’ has a slight fragrance and in this post you say it’s enough to perfume your patio: am I correct in inferring that as the plant matures and has more blooms the wider the area that’s perfumed? Thank you.

  29. Northern Shade :
    September 23, 2013 at 7:50 am

    GJ, yes, it has a much stronger scent as it matures. Also, the blooms are not as fragrant when they first appear. ‘Blizzard’ is a great, hardy shrub for the garden. Mine needs very little care, and with its more compact size it fits into a mixed border very well.

  30. GJ :
    September 24, 2013 at 4:51 pm

    Thanks again, it’s just the right plant for a low maintenance fragrant walk on one side of the house!

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