Plant of the Week: ILLUMINATI™ Mock orange

Beyond pretty flowers and old-fashioned charm, why should you grow mock orange? In a word, fragrance. It’s all too easy to forget how important fragrance is to a garden. Fragrance anchors a place in our memory, and plants are often part of that.

The Illuminati™ series excels in blooming and fragrance with the large, highly-scented white spring flowers that you would expect from a mock orange. Actually, more than you would expect: these are really large, really fragrant flowers. So they are already overachievers.

More than just a pretty face, the Illuminati varieties have outstanding structure as well. While Illuminati Arch® has double flowers and a graceful arch to the stems, Illuminati Tower™ is more upright, with single flowers. Illuminati Tower’s sturdy vertical stems are really distinct, with flowers that are stacked, creating a four-sided tower effect.

They are both a nice, compact size, too. Illuminati Tower will grow to about 36 – 48″ tall and 18 – 24″ wide, and Illuminati Arch will reach heights/widths of 48″. Both varieties will grow in full sun or part shade and are hardy in USDA zones 4-7.

Practically speaking, mock orange is a tough plant. Deer resistant, hardy, and adaptable to many soils, it’s a durable choice for many gardening sites.

More than just spring flowers

There’s nothing wrong with growing a plant solely for its spring interest. Spring bloomers are a delightful addition to any landscape emerging from winter’s grey. They are also critical to garden center sales.

But what happens after the flowers are gone? We’ve tried hard to introduce plants with interesting foliage, whether it is a different color, variegated, or has an appealing texture. But what about just green? It may not be as flashy, but handsome green foliage that stays appealing through the summer is important. Just as it complements spring flowers, it will showcase summer blooms, too, even if they are on a different plant. Fresh deep green foliage is handsome in its own right, especially when a garden has that tired August look about it.

That’s one more benefit to the Illuminati™ varieties: their dark green foliage maintains its appeal all summer long. While other varieties look tattered, these plants, with their thick leaves and good branching, are still attractive.

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