Cestrum 'Orange Peel' is indeed fragrant

mattdiclemente(7)May 14, 2011

This post is to answer Robert's question about Cestrum 'Orange Peel'. He wrote:

~"I was wondering if you've grown Cestrum 'Orange Peel' (a hybrid between nocturnum and diurnum)? Some sources state it has a sweet fragrance at night and other sources mention no scent. It's supposed to be cold hardy where I live and attract hummers (both a plus) but of course being the scent whore that I am I'm wondering about the scent."~

Yes I have grown Cestrum 'Orange Peel' and I reccomend it.

This plant is most like its parent Cestrum Nocturnum.

It has no fragrance during the day. It does have fragrance at night though. It does not smell to me much like orange fruit or orange peel though. The name must be for the orange color of the flowers. It smells like cestrum.

Cestrum aurantiacum 'Lemon Peel' does smell citrusy to my nose though! Perhaps it is the power of suggestion. I will check on both of these and make notes to report back though.

Where are you thinking of buying your 'Orange Peel' plant from? In cases like this, I reccomend a nursery whose description mentions fragrance in specific. And what I would do is write them before hand. Ask them directly if the plant you are ordering is fragrant or not. They will hopefully answer that it is. If they answer that they are not sure, your options are to order from some other place, order something different entirely, or to tell the company that you grow only for fragrance, and if the product is not as described, you will return it and expect a refund.

This isn't to say that a plant isn't fragrant simply because it isn't described as such by a certain nursery however. To some people, fragrance simply isn't the consideration it is for us, true fragrance enthusiasts.

I know, it is hard for me to imagine too, but this is the sad truth. Consider only the parking lot plantings of America as a case in point. Secondly, a grower may have never noticed a given plant's fragrance, powerful as it be. This could likely be with a plant only fragrant at nigt, and one grown for its showy blooms, like Cestrum 'Orange Peel'. Finally, and this is not a good thing, but it is actually not always easy to find species and varieties of certain plants "true". What a given nursery is growing and offering may, or may not be the true Cestrum "Orange Peel". For my part, I could care less if the plant I am getting is 'Orange Peel' as long only as what I am to recieve is a cestrum that is fragrant. This is why I reccomend you go with the nursery advertising the plant as fragrant. It is possible the other nursery, which does not mention fragrance, is mistaken, and is in reality offering some other, non-fragrant variety. Conversely, true "Orange Peel" may not be fragrant at all, but the fragrant imposter sold by nurseries is the one I would by all means like to have!

As to this plant's being hardy where you live, consider it a possibility. Cestrum 'Orange Peel' is hardy zones 7 and warmer. In zone 9, Cestrum is a shrub, and Cestrum Nocturnum blooms on and off all year there and in tropical and sub tropical areas. In zone 8 Cestrum 'Orange Peel' is a deciduous shrub with some die-back each year, but resprouting vigorously I'm told. In zone 7 in the South, Cestrum Orange peel freezes to the ground, but regrows to waist height or taller in summer. Here in zone 7 in New Jersey, along the Atlantic Coast, this doesn't always work. The middle zones, 6 & 7, are two different things entirely in the North vs. in the South. The absolute minimum temperatures may not be any lower here than they are, say in Atlanta. We have rare winter mornings in the teens, almost never winter monnings 5-10 degrees F but this can happen) Here we endure them over a longer period and more frequently too however. Zone 7 gardeners in Dixie do not have to contend with foot upon foot of snow and ice as we often do, for that matter either, which can lay waste to otherwise cold hardy plants, like a Camelia Japonica out of the ground or in an unprotected location.

My reccomendation is to propogate a few small back-up plants this season, and keep them inside over the winter just in case. Then, don't consider your outdoors Cestrum 'Orange Peel' a plant-it-and-forget-it plant. Mulch it heavily over the winter. Over the summer, water it well, and give it TLC so as to have the largest, strongest plant possible going into what could be a cold winter. This Spring, plant it early to give it the best jump, and give it the best soil and sun you can. You will probably also want to plant it in a protected location, such as next to the house. Consider that, where you live, if Snapdragons over-winter in a certain position, this is likely a good place to try other plants of borderline hariness. Have fun!

Best wishes,



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Robert (zone 7a, Oklahoma)

Hi Matt!

I apologize for going off topic on your C. elegans 'Smithii' post and I thank you for not going Jersey Shore on me (your response made me laugh).

I also want to thank you for the wealth of information you gave on Orange Peel and buying fragrant plants in general.
If only the internet allowed us to smell the plants before we purchased them.
I went ahead and ordered my Orange Peel from Pepper's Greenhouses (their site does state the flowers are fragrant).
Another plant I'm considering from them since they state it is fragrant is Jasminum multiflorum. I've read that some cultivars are fragrant and others are not. My book 'The Genus Jasminum in Cultivation' mentions the sweet scent is best in the morning. Some people have described it as having a gardenia like scent.

Of course now I'm also wanting Cestrum aurantiacum 'Lemon Peel' since I love citrus scents!


    Bookmark   May 15, 2011 at 11:11AM
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Robert (zone 7a, Oklahoma)

I finally smelled my Cestrum Orange Peel a couple of nights ago! To me it sorta smells like Chinese Perfume Plant (Aglaia odorata) though not as refined. More of a 'high' note to it. Doesn't smell like C. nocturnum to me and definitely is not as fragrant but still a pleasant surprise since I'm primarily growing it to attract hummingbirds. :)
The scent doesn't waft (had to stick my nose to the blooms) but maybe the scent will become stronger later in the season when it gets hot and muggy.


    Bookmark   April 12, 2012 at 9:33AM
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Congratulations Robert! That is exciting. Mine is blooming too. My Cestrum lemon peel was blooming at Christmas. I think it is my favorite. I have a question for you. Would you say that Chinese Perfume Plant (Aglaia odorata) smells like lemon/lime? Night blooming Jasmine (Cestrum nocturnum) for me has the same soda fiz, but also a strong yeasty scent. Not everyone likes it. Cestrum 'Lemon Peel' and 'Orange Peel have none of the yeast. I am going to have to order 'Orange Peel' from Pepper's now that you have given such glowing praise of their 'Orange Peel'. I like cestrums better, the later they bloom in the fall. This may be because I appreciate flower then and in December more in general, but I also think somehow that fragrances change in the cool air. I love Tulbahgia fragrans best in fall and winter, by June it reminds me of the hot iron smell of Korean rose. To me, though it is a near constant bloomer for me, Swetet Almond Verbena (Aloysia virgata) has a sort of rankness under the sweet scent. In fall though, it is all sweetness and almond. I think of all these, along with Cestrums as fall flowers because their bloom is most profuse at this season. You are right that the fragrance will carry farther farther in summer, but you may like them best in Fall. Best wishes, Sincerely,

    Bookmark   April 20, 2012 at 9:48AM
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Robert (zone 7a, Oklahoma)

Hi Matt!

Thank you for your input.

I would say Aglaia odorata smells like fresh lemon rind...maybe. I've heard descriptions ranging from a clean, sparkling lemony scent to Limoncello and Roy Genders in Scented Flora of the World states the following 'Said to be the most exquisitely scented of all flowers, like vanilla but with spicy undertones.' L'Occitane's lemon verbena Eau de Toilette sort of reminds me of the scent when the real thing is not available.
Anyway I adore the scent as you can probably see. :)

I am curious to see how Cestrum Orange Peel's scent changes through the seasons. So far the scent is light so I'm not recommending the plant for all those scent lovers out there. ;)
I do have a gripe about the plant and that is if you brush up against the leaves trying to reach the flowers the leaves have an unpleasant odor which is hard to describe so just wanted to warn everyone.
I will say that Orange Pee is a blooming machine! It kept blooming even under the low light conditions in our basement this winter.


    Bookmark   April 20, 2012 at 10:16AM
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Dear Robert,

Your knowledge of fragrant plants is extensive.
I look forward to reading your comments.
Vanilla with spicy undertones for Aglaia? I think Roy Genders must have simply heard it described that way at a cocktail party, and repeated it because it sounded good!I would love to smell a plant like that if they do exist though, because it does sound wonderful. Clean, sparkling and lemon scented are much more inline with my experience of Chinese perfume plant, but shouldn't we start a thread for it too?

Yes, I do know what you mean about brushing up against Cestrum 'Orange Peel'. It is a distinct nightshade scent, found even in tomato foliage, but in cestrums, without the green note, and stronger. It is funny that you should mention the smell of the foliage. I noticed it in particular in this cultivar myself. I think its nightshade odor is strong in itself, but because the leaves are softer than, say Cestrum Nocturnum, it is more easily expressed. And of course, if you are nosing around the flower trying to write a description up for the fragrant forum, this is something you will likely do! You may get a stronger wiff of the foliage this way than the appealing flowers. Perhaps, we should simpy stand back, and allow Cestrum 'Orange Peel' to offer up its fragrance in due time

Best wishes,

    Bookmark   April 20, 2012 at 5:42PM
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My huge Aglaia odorata bush has been blooming for three weeks now, the longest stretch ever. Even with the downpours of the past few days, the lovely scent is wafting.

I, too, had trouble describing its scent until one day I was absentmindedly rolling and warming an organic lemon in my hands, and then I uncupped my hands and took a good whiff - it's like uncut lemon peel, with a floral note.

I'm just starting to grow out the orange cestrum from peppers, it's all leaf now, about 9" tall, so I'm waiting....hope it performs.

Now, the lemon cestrum - I can't find it at nurseries when I google online. Any leads?

Thanks in advance,

    Bookmark   December 27, 2013 at 11:42AM
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Robert (zone 7a, Oklahoma)

Cestrum 'Orange Peel' has proven quite hardy!
I did not mulch it over this brutal winter and the top died however it's coming up from the roots!


    Bookmark   April 27, 2014 at 11:20AM
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true_blue(Mtl Can Zone 4b)

Congrats Robert. Very interesting thread btw. Maybe as Matt say, this year being in ground Orange Peel might wow you :-)

    Bookmark   April 28, 2014 at 9:51AM
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