How to keep a mock orange tree blooming

Written by lois lawrence
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Mock orange is technically a shrub but grows to at least 12 feet tall in ideal conditions and can be pruned into tree formation. For that reason, mock orange is a popular choice for bonsai cultivation. Mock orange is native to large portions of the northwest U.S.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

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Things you need

  • Bypass pruning shears

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  1. 1

    Mock oranges love sunlight. Plant your tree in a sunny location with good drainage. If you already have a mock orange in your landscape that is not blooming profusely or that is blooming for only a short time, see whether pruning other trees nearby will allow more sun to reach it. If not and if other measures don't increase blossom production, consider transplanting your mock orange as a last resort.

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    One of the best ways to encourage your tree to produce flowers next year is to prune it properly shortly after the blooming season, which, in the case of mock orange ideally lasts from early March to late May.

    Once blooming has ended, prune away any dead wood. Pruning dead wood can be done virtually any time of year as well. Next, prune flowering branches to just above a lateral branch within the outer silhouette of the crown. Pruning all branches to the same length results in an undesirable "poodle cut" look. Carefully examine your mock orange from all angles during the pruning process in order to make sure you are thinning the plant evenly. Finally, remove any branches that seem to be growing in the wrong direction.

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    Too much nitrogen in the soil impedes flower production. If your lawn grows close to the base of your mock orange, cut away the sod from an area a little larger than the crown of your tree so that when you feed your lawn with nitrogen-rich fertiliser, you will not also be feeding your mock orange. If you suspect that the plant has been over-fertilised with nitrogen, water well with plain water and refrain from fertilising or adding organic matter to the soil around the plant. Ideally, your mock orange should be nitrogen deprived for most of the flowering season. After blossoming, the plant can be fertilised to encourage the growth of foliage in order to nourish the plant for the next year.

Tips and warnings

  • Mock orange leaves and flowers can be used as a mild soap by simply crushing them and rubbing with a little water. Their wood was traditionally used by Native Americans to fashion arrows and snowshoes among other things.

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