Friday, March 12, 2010

Choisya Ternata

Now Flowering - March 2010:  Choisya ternata (Mexican Mock Orange)
Location:  San Francisco Bay Area Region

Foothill College's Environmental Horticulture Department holds Spring and Fall plant sales every year to raise money for the Environmental Horticulture & Landscape Design program. I adopted our Choisya ternata from Foothill College in 2006, during their Spring sale. I purchased it because it was alone in a corner with only 2 twigs sticking out of clay soil, with a few leaves on the ends, apparently saved from a garden demolition. For $3.00 I brought it home. It started out in a 5 gallon pot and four years later, it's still in the same pot, only I replaced the clay soil with rich, well draining soil. I keep it close to the perimeter of a Redwood tree and allow the Redwood leaf fall to cover its base during the Winter. With yearly pruning after blooming, it continues to grow delightfully in a pot. The white flowers almost 'glow' above the dark green leaves, as these photos show, taken at twilight on March 9, 2010.

This evergreen shrub has clusters of lightly fragrant white flowers that bloom from early spring to early fall and are highly attractive to bees. Placing Choisya ternata plants in the garden where they will get full sun early to mid-day and partial shade during the hottest hours of the day keeps their leaves from scorching.

I feed ours with fish emulsion in late February to early March and by May, after flowering, prune it by 30-50 % to keep it tidy so that it doesn't get top heavy and topple over in its pot.


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