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Choisya ternata

Phonetic Spelling
CHOY-see-uh ter-NAY-tuh
Description

Choisya ternata was named to honor the Swiss Protestant clergyman and botanist, Jacques Denis Choisy, with ternata being a reference to the leaf clusters that appear in threes.

Mexican Orange is a shrub native to the southwest USA and Mexico that prefers mild winter locations in full to part sun and protection from the hot afternoon sun. Its common name, Mexican Orange, refers to the orange fragrance emitted from the flowers and crushed leaves.

Although flowering occurs in late spring, it is possible to see additional blooms throughout the summer and into the fall.   

In areas north of zone 7 it can be grown in pots and brought indoors when temperatures drop below 14 degrees Fahrenheit.  Temperatures below 5 degrees Fahrenheit can cause the plant to defoliate.  

Pruning is typically not necessary, but its tolerance for pruning allows for the removal of dead or damaged branches.  Cutting to ground level is also tolerated.  

The shrub is known for its fragrant and lovely leaves and fragrant showy white blooms in summer. It grows in shrub form 4-8 feet tall and wide and can be used as a hedge or for privacy. Plant in humusy, moist, well-drained soils and prune after flowering for possible additional blooms. Once established it is moderately tolerant of brief droughts.

In its native habitat, it can be found growing in chalky soils, often a seaside location.  Cold winds can cause damage when shelter is not provided.  

Young plants tend to grow at a rapid pace, but as the plant ages, it will grow at a more moderate pace.

Insects, Diseases, and Other Plant Problems:  No serious insect or disease issues.  Provide proper drainage to prevent root rot and crown rot.  

Limbs can die, even when there is no apparent reason.  

 

See this plant in the following landscape:
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Sundance'
    Gold/yellow foliage
'Sundance'
Tags:
#fragrant#evergreen#showy flowers#full sun tolerant#fragrant flowers#drought tolerant#white flowers#shrub#fragrant leaves#broadleaf evergreen#rabbit resistant#security plant#hedges#frost tolerant#bush#evergreen shrub#compact habit#butterfly friendly#partial shade tolerant#container plant#broadleaf#butterflies#butterfly#butterfly garden#bees
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Sundance'
    Gold/yellow foliage
'Sundance'
Tags:
#fragrant#evergreen#showy flowers#full sun tolerant#fragrant flowers#drought tolerant#white flowers#shrub#fragrant leaves#broadleaf evergreen#rabbit resistant#security plant#hedges#frost tolerant#bush#evergreen shrub#compact habit#butterfly friendly#partial shade tolerant#container plant#broadleaf#butterflies#butterfly#butterfly garden#bees
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Choisya
    Species:
    ternata
    Family:
    Rutaceae
    Uses (Ethnobotany):
    In warmer climates it can be grown outdoors as an evergreen plant, while cooler climates require that they be brought indoors in the colder months.
    Life Cycle:
    Woody
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Seed
    Stem Cutting
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Southwestern US and Mexico
    Distribution:
    AZ, NM, TX
    Wildlife Value:
    Attracts butterflies and bees.
    Play Value:
    Attracts Pollinators
    Buffer
    Fragrance
    Screening
    Wildlife Food Source
    Particularly Resistant To (Insects/Diseases/Other Problems):
    Honey fungus
    Dimensions:
    Height: 4 ft. 0 in. - 8 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 4 ft. 0 in. - 8 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Shrub
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Broadleaf Evergreen
    Habit/Form:
    Dense
    Mounding
    Rounded
    Growth Rate:
    Medium
    Maintenance:
    Medium
    Texture:
    Medium
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Deep shade (Less than 2 hours to no direct sunlight)
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Partial Shade (Direct sunlight only part of the day, 2-6 hours)
    Soil Texture:
    Clay
    Loam (Silt)
    Soil pH:
    Acid (<6.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Moist
    Available Space To Plant:
    3 feet-6 feet
    6-feet-12 feet
    NC Region:
    Coastal
    Piedmont
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    7b, 8a, 8b, 9a, 9b, 10b, 10a
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Fall
    Fruit Type:
    Capsule
    Fruit Description:
    The fruits are 2 to 6 sectioned capsules.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    White
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Corymb
    Cyme
    Flower Value To Gardener:
    Fragrant
    Long Bloom Season
    Showy
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Fall
    Spring
    Summer
    Flower Shape:
    Star
    Flower Petals:
    4-5 petals/rays
    Flower Size:
    1-3 inches
    Flower Description:
    1.25-inch wide star-shaped flowers appear in corymbs in summer and are white and fragrant.
  • Leaves:
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Broadleaf Evergreen
    Leaf Color:
    Gold/Yellow
    Green
    Leaf Feel:
    Glossy
    Leaf Value To Gardener:
    Fragrant
    Leaf Type:
    Compound (Pinnately , Bipinnately, Palmately)
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Opposite
    Leaf Shape:
    Elliptical
    Oblanceolate
    Leaf Margin:
    Entire
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Length:
    1-3 inches
    Leaf Width:
    1-3 inches
    Leaf Description:
    The 3-6 inch leaves are trifoliate, glossy, aromatic and medium green in color. The new foliage is yellow-green.
  • Bark:
    Bark Description:
    Smooth trunk.
  • Stem:
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Description:
    Multi-trunked.
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Container
    Naturalized Area
    Patio
    Pool/Hardscape
    Woodland
    Landscape Theme:
    Butterfly Garden
    Cottage Garden
    Drought Tolerant Garden
    Native Garden
    Pollinator Garden
    Design Feature:
    Border
    Foundation Planting
    Hedge
    Screen/Privacy
    Specimen
    Attracts:
    Bees
    Butterflies
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Drought
    Pollution
    Rabbits