The Q&A Archives: Scentless Mock Orange

Question: I was boasting to some gardening friends that I bought one of your Mock Oranges and how wonderful it smelled, yadda, yadda, yadda and two of them said they have big bushes with tons of flowers but no scent at all. Needless to say they're not too happy. Any suggestions? I've never heard of a mock orange not smelling. In fact the memory of the one I had in my yard on Long Island growing up is what made me have to have this one. The friends are located in CT and Brit. Columbia.

Also, I just bought one of your climbing hydrangeas, another stunner. The same BC buddy said hers was in bloom and hasn't bloomed since but is quite big. I don't want the same thing to happen. Any pre-planting suggestions for soil ammendments, etc.? I've been very pleased with everything else I've gotten from your company/nurseries. Thank you for helping me brighten up this little corner of upstate NY. God knows when the snow melts, we need the color!!!

Answer: There is often some variation in fragrance from year to year in the same mock orange plant. There is speculation as to how weather, time of day, humidity and so on may contribute to the fragrance or lack of it, but in my experience it seems inexplicable. Hopefully next year will be better!

Climbing hydrangea, Hydrangea anomala ssp. petiolaris, seems to bloom best with some direct sunlight, although it will also grow well in a shady location. One of the most important requirements is a rich and constantly moist but well drained (not wet) soil, moisture is especially important in a sunnier location.

It takes several years to become established after transplanting and may not grow much at first, so it could be that the plant is still devoting energy to that rather than to flowering. Also be sure not to prune off the current new year's growth in spring or early summer as this is where the flower buds would be forming.

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