How and when to prune Philadelphus / Mock orange


Philadelphus is a genus belonging to the Hydrangeaceae family, it has about 50 species of shrubs. Its origin is central and northern of the American continent and of Asia and eastern Europe. They are bushes of great growth that produce very beautiful flowers and very good aroma, which is why they are planted in gardens around the world. Among the most recognized species are: Philadelphus x virginalis (Mock orange), Philadelphus delavayi, Philadelphus coronarius, Philadelphus × purpureomaculatus, Philadelphus lewisii. In this article we will study everything about pruning Philadelphus, how and when to do it, what tools to use, etc.


Note: Please note that the advice given here is general, this blog is consulted from many countries in the world, with totally different characteristics, what not all tips will be adapted in the same way in all cases. Once you finish reading the article it will be necessary to analyze all the information and apply what you have learned in the best way. If you have any questions, remember that you can contact us to make your inquiries.

1. How to care your Philadelphus


Before getting into the main theme of this post, the pruning of Mock orange, we will dedicate this brief section to analyze what are the necessary care that you should carry out in this bush.

  • Location: the place you select for your plantation must be outside, both in full sun and semi-shade.
  • Soil: adapts well to fertile soils and with good drainage.
  • Irrigation: if you live in an area that does not rain too often you will have to water your Philadelphus three times a week in summer and about twice in the rest of the year.
Philadelphus / Mock Orange
  • Pests: the most common are cochineal and aphids. The former can fight them with anticochineal products while the latter can control them with yellow adhesive traps.
  • Diseases: an excessive irrigation or poorly drainable soils this shrub can be affected by oidium or rust, which you should control with fungicide. Although the best solution is to prevent with controlled water contributions.
  • Temperature: in terms of this factor it can be said that they are very resistant, being able to withstand up to -10ºC.
  • Fertilization: you can fertilize from spring to late summer or early autumn with some organic fertilizer.
  • Pruning: as you could imagine, pruning could not be missing among the care of the Philadelphus, in the following sections we will devote ourselves to deepen the subject.

2. Tools needed for pruning Philadelphus Virginal


There are several tools that you will need to perform your pruning or trimming of a Philadelphus or Mock orange bush. Each of them is appropriate for different cases depending on age, time of year, type of pruning, etc.

  • Hand Pruning Shears: Stems up to half inch in diameter can be pruned with hand shears.
  • Lopping Shears: It is suitable to use on stems between half inch and 2 inches in diameter.
  • Hedge Shears: Manual and power shears are available for trimming hedges. Manual shears have long, flat blades with relatively short handles and are good for small jobs. Electric shears are a good choice for larger hedges.
  • Saws: A number of pruning saws are available. These saws come with either curved or straight blades and of variable lengths and points. Curved blades that cut on the draw stroke are easy to use.

Keep in mind that you must disinfect all the tools before cut back your Philadelphus. This will help prevent disease transmission, you will have to do it before you start pruning and every time you change plants.

2.1 Needed care of pruning tools

If you want to extend the useful life of your pruning tools there are some basic care.

  • Use the right tool for a job and avoid twisting or straining it.
  • Clean and oil tools regularly by wiping an oily cloth on blades and other surfaces.
  • Keep cutting edges sharp by regularly using an oilstone.
  • Wooden handles should be varnished or regularly treated with linseed oil to keep them from cracking or splintering.

Carry out the previous care on a regular basis and you will be saving good money on tools. 🙂

You may also be interested in knowing about pruning:

3. How to prune Philadelphus or Mock orange


As with most plants there are several types of pruning that must be carried out in a Philadelphus, within this section we will see three of those that cannot be missing:

  • Pruning after flowering.
  • Cleaning pruning.
  • Pruning of rejuvenation.

In bushes with flowering like Mock Orange it is important to know how and when to prune it, since a bad pruning can make you lose all the flowering. When in doubt in these cases it is always better not to prune, than to do it incorrectly.

You will see that among the types of pruning we will analyze is not the classic training pruning, this is because they do not need pruning in their first years of life, but you should let them grow freely. In general, the Philadelphus begin to need pruning when their branches have aged and have stopped flowering because of it.

3.1 Pruning Philadelphus after blooming

As I said, in the absence of knowledge, it is better not to prune, in the case of the annual pruning of a Philadelphus or Mock Orange, there are two essential data that you should know:

  • This pruning should be carried after flowering, never before.
  • This shrub blooms on the branches of the previous year. They also turn short twigs in which the flower buds are formed.

Once this is known, the pruning truth is something simple to do.

Trim the branches between 1/3 or 2/3 of the total length. Also in case you want to reduce the density of your foliage you can take advantage of cutting from its base one of every three old branches. This will allow for better air circulation and light entry into the plant.

Pruning Philadelphus Mock orange
Pruning Philadelphus

3.2 Cleaning pruning Mock orange

This Mock orange pruning is the classic pruning that almost all plants need. The pruning objective is to keep the plant healthy, eliminate useless elements for development and improve flowering to some extent. In the case of this shrub has the advantage of not suffering from major attacks of diseases or pests, this will make the pruning of clean in general be quite light.

As I always say, before starting to trim, take some time to analyze the plant carefully, then you should eliminate the following:

  • Start cutting completely dry branches, it will help the aesthetics of the plant.
  • If you find branches attacked by a pest or disease, it is time to cut it.
  • Trim any branch with bad orientation, crisscrossed that not for some reason clashes with the shape of the bush.

If this pruning is carried out to eliminate diseased or attacked branches due to a pest, you should be careful with the waste generated in this task, never leave them in your garden since the disease or pest may continue to spread.

3.3 Hard pruning Philadelphus

When the Philadelphus is several years old or if it has been neglected you will notice that it begins to have too woody branches that do not produce a good flowering. It is at that time that you must carry out a hard pruning or rejuvenation pruning.

With this pruning what is sought is to eliminate all the old branches to push the bush to generate a new and strong foliage, from which a good flowering develops.

Remove the total branches at a ground level of about 6-12 inches. Once the cut is done, place healing paste to avoid possible diseases and help healing.

Keep in mind that it is very likely that in the next spring there will be no flowering, but you will see how it will begin to develop strong branches from its base. 🙂

4. When to prune Philadelphus Virginal


If you have read the whole article until you arrive here you should not have many doubts regarding when to prune your Philadelphus, it is enough to detect the moment of flowering and you already know that right after it you can carry out the annual pruning.

In the case of cleaning pruning is always a good time to perform them. This is because cutting dry branches can be done at any time of the year, and if you detect diseased or attacked branches by a pestilence you must eliminate it instantly. You don’t want that disease or plague to spread throughout your garden.

Finally pruning rejuvenation should be done in winter or early spring while the plant is still dormant. If where you live the winters are too cold it is recommended that you wait for the first days of spring, otherwise winter is a good time.

5. Video about how to prune Philadelphus


To close the publication, we leave a video of the Gardening at Douentza channel, in which you can understand more graphically much of what is explained in the article. I hope it helps you. 🙂

You may also be interested in knowing about pruning:

Well up to here we have arrived with this article in which we talked about how and when to prune a Philadelphus or Mock Orange bush. I hope you have no doubt when you should take your scissors and get to work. 

4.8/5 - (9 votes)
Tags:  , ,