Wintersweet ( La- Mei) Starts to Bloom

longriver(SF Bay Area)December 8, 2006

Wintersweet is a very special fragrant flower blooming in the winter time. But there is an exception. One species of this plant blooms in the summer time and has no fragrance. I have a collection of three types of fragrant Wintersweet:

waxy yellow, flat petal waxy yellow and purple heart.

My purple heart is blooming now. I can smell the fragrance about one foot away outdoor. If I place one branch indoor, a small room will fill with the fragrance. It is an excellent flower for flower arrangement during Dce and Jan.

Here is a link that might be useful:

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ermazi(z6, NJ.)

Did you have compared the strength of the smells from the
three types?

It is said that the waxy yellow one is better than others,
is it right?

    Bookmark   December 8, 2006 at 3:46PM
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longriver(SF Bay Area)

Purple heart flower smells milder than that of the waxy yellow ones. I have a picture of waxy yellow one here.

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   December 8, 2006 at 9:37PM
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ermazi(z6, NJ.)

According to some chinese records, smelling the purple heart
one for some time may result in headache! However, smelling
the waxy yellow one will not. I really do not know if it is
true.

    Bookmark   December 10, 2006 at 1:11AM
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longriver(SF Bay Area)

There is also an art of appreciating fragrance. If we keep the flower at proper distance, it would help to prevent possible other effect. And do not keep on smelling it.
The fragrance profile of Wintersweet is different from rose or gardenia, I think most people like it but not everyone. I am not surprise that a few persons will feel sicking. Once I was in a nursery in Virginia, the owner telling me, He hated the smell of gardenia.

Likewise You question is very valid.

I have cultivated a camellia species called C. hunanica. It is an early bloomer. The fragrance profile and tensity and the size of the flower to me is better than that of C. lutchuensis( has been regarded as the crown of all fragrant camellias). However I think "almost all" people will like the fragrance of C. hunanica dearly, no other ill feeling.

    Bookmark   December 10, 2006 at 1:42PM
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cweathersby

Longriver,
I have two types of wintersweets, one is the waxy yellow kind called C. pratens, the other is evergreen wintersweet, I do not know what the name for it is. The waxy yellow is very fragrant but I cannot smell it from a distance, my nose has to be right on the flower to smell it. Do you know what kind of bloom the evergreen wintersweet will have? Mine is too young for blooming.
Also, your picture of the yellow waxy kind is full of buds and flowers. Mine does not have as many buds. How do you take care of your wintersweet? Do you fertilize? Water? Is the soil ammended? So far I have not done anything to my wintersweet, not even water, even though I live in Texas where there isn't much rain the plant does just fine without extra care. But if water and/or fertilizer would make it bloom more then I would do it. What do you think?
Thank you for posting both pictures.
I was reading your post on Osmanthus and you are very lucky to live in an area where the nurserys carry such wonderful plants! My osmanthus are all O. fragrans and I would love a chance to grow the others. If you ever see me posting about a plant that you would like to grow maybe we could do a trade of cuttings. I mostly have roses to trade, but am collecting fragrant plants and maybe one day I will have some that you would like also.
Carrie

    Bookmark   December 10, 2006 at 5:56PM
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longriver(SF Bay Area)

I am not sure which is which regarding "evergreen" and "summer". Once a bush of Wintersweet reaches 5-6 feet, it will produce flower. This plant is very easy to grow. The root is very strong.

Because the growing season is very dry in Ca, it is easier for me to grow a few mature Wintersweet in 15 to 30 gal pots with auto-irrigation system. I use common camellia fertilizer 2-3 times per year for Wintersweet simply because of convenience. It is true that our area feels like to have four seasons of spring per year.

Late May and early June is a good time to talk about cuttings. send me an email see how to make a deal!

I have a picture of non-fragrant La-Mei.

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   December 11, 2006 at 2:32AM
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tmli(z6MD)

I have one, grown from seeds, is blooming now. It took five year for the full bloom. It is very fragrant.

    Bookmark   December 18, 2006 at 5:42PM
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bogturtle(SE NJ 7a)

The one I believe is supposed to be evergreen is Chimonanthus nitens. I had ordered C. praecox, 3 years ago. This Fall it bloomed and they had, in error, sent me C. nitens, with tiny, ghostly white flowers,that smelled very faintly to me of something like soap. It has proved not too evergreen, since, in the last month, most leaves are gone.Another identifier is the almost microscopic brown bell shapes left from each flower.
I have a C. praecox 'Luteus' or 'Lutea' on order for Spring and that one is supposed to have a powerful odor and solid yellow flowers, with no purple stain in the center.

    Bookmark   December 18, 2006 at 11:35PM
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longriver(SF Bay Area)

This plant is very easy to propagate by rooting, air layering or through seedlings. I am very sure that years later many nurseries in US will carry this fragrant plant.

This plant has been treasured in China for over 3000 years. It was then rated as top plants in China side by side with tree peony and Chinese fragrant orchid. There is an interesting comparison. At history early years, rose ( a top flower today) were in their original species form, small, single, less color and less fragrance. After hybridization over 100 years ago, the status of rose has been rised sharply). However all the La-meis you see today are the same flower over 3000 years ago. The purple one was collected by a botanist to England over 100 years ago. It was then brought to US from England.

    Bookmark   December 20, 2006 at 2:26PM
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cweathersby

I am disapointed to hear that C. nitens has very little scent. Mine is still holding onto its leaves.
I second Longriver in saying that wintersweets are easy to propagate. I have rooted around 6 of them and given them to friends. I plan on rooting more to put in various places in the yard. Of the 3 I have, the only one that has grown tall enough to bloom is the one in lots of sun. Michellia figo is another plant that will root easily, but it seems that only the tip cuttings took root. I hope the other michellias root as easily. I have not had any luck with camellias yet but I recently found out why and am looking forward to trying again.
My wintersweet is still not blooming! Last year it started in January. It is covered with buds and I check it every day!

    Bookmark   December 20, 2006 at 2:42PM
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longriver(SF Bay Area)

cweathersby: Did you memtion about camellias? It is better to use graft method to propagate your desired camellia. At warm regions of U S, air layering is also a speedy way to acquire a sizable plant. You can root camellia easily by using new but firm branches. This method is favored by nursery for mass production. It may take three years to form a small plant.

I have a few camellias including fragrant ones at my backyard.

    Bookmark   December 21, 2006 at 12:48AM
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cweathersby

Longriver,
Yes I have tried rooting camellias, it was last winter after a 17 degree night and there were only a few camellias in town whose blooms did not freeze, so I asked the owners if I could take cuttings. None of them took, but it was the wrong time of year. Also, a man who propagates them comercially gave a lecture that says they need to be soaked in a mild acid solution (maybe not acid, I have the papers around here somewhere) until the water is clear. The brown stuff that comes out of the stem when being soaked is a root inhibitor. I am going to try and root these camellias in mid summer. I don't know how to graft, and since they are on other people's property I wouldn't be able to air layer it. None of my camellias are really fragrant, but with the cold that we get we are lucky to see any camellia blooms.
Good news, my wintersweet has 2 blooms on it! I just love that smell! A list of things that are blooming right now: winter honeysuckle, wintersweet, and camellias. That's it. Does anyone else have anything to add? Maybe it would give me ideas of what plants I need to get.

    Bookmark   December 21, 2006 at 2:45PM
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longriver(SF Bay Area)

My Wintersweet plants undue many nights under freezing. The petals show no little sign of damage. My purple heart type flowers are at end of stage and my yellow tpye flowers are making a finale show now. The total Wintersweet show time is two months, not a bad deal.
Once wintersweet bush is established, it is very vigous to put out the branches. More branches induced by proper pruning and fertilzing would encourge more flowers. Mature plant would have more flowers. More flower buds would increase the duration of flowering time. My two mature yellow type Winersweet are actually planted in 30 gal plastic pots. I took a picture this morning before it gone with wind.

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   February 3, 2007 at 3:16PM
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yellowthumb(5a Ontario)

Longriver, I have been keeping a wintersweet for over three years in the container. The first year it only had two buds but dropped off, the 2nd year had about 10 buds and dropped one by one. This year it formed many buds but only two opened and others just simply dropped off. I am very frustrated, I even thinking about throw it outside. I usually kept in outside until end of Novermber when it formed buds, then I moved it into my unheated garage and finally move to my living room at middle of January. But whenever I move it indoors, it started dropping it buds. You mentioned that you have a big one in 30 gallon container. Do you put it outside all the time?

    Bookmark   February 3, 2007 at 5:57PM
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longriver(SF Bay Area)

Yellowthumb: congratulations that you did produce the flowers in Canada.
I am interested in your situation about flower bud dropping.
My first concern is humidity in room temperature, too low.
The second concern is the room temperature may be too high to over stimulate flowering or combination of both.

Wintersweet is considered moderate hardy. I think if you can figure out an area( or enclosure an narrow or corner area)to keep evening about at freezing temperature and day time above freezing to safe keeping the plant. Let the nature takes it's course to flower. If so, the blooming time in your area may be possible in late Feb or early March.

My previous job was conducting research and trouble shooting. I am always working on some challenges including home gardening and camellias breeding. It is very hard to recommend any idea to others due to every household is different.

    Bookmark   February 3, 2007 at 10:57PM
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yellowthumb(5a Ontario)

Thanks Longriver,

I think you are right about the humidity and the temperature. The humidity is around 40 - 50%. The temperature is from 17 at night to 22 at daytime. The only two flowers opened so far actually bloomed in my garage. But since it's freezing (about minus 2 degrees) there, the container soil is freezed hard, I am concerned and moved it indoors, but that's a mistake.

The wintersweet is a challenge for Canadians, but I have four Osmanthus (Nanjing's beauty and Fuzhingzhu), they are so easy and happy in my sunroom, always blooming with some new growth. My next challenge is to make my coffee tree set fruits, it's loaded with buds now.

I am very interested with your fragrant Camellia research. When it becomes commerical, please let me know. I only have two Camellias, one loaded with buds, the other one was almost killed by me after repoting.

    Bookmark   February 3, 2007 at 11:22PM
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longriver(SF Bay Area)

If one has four season type Osmanthus, They are starting to produce flowers, even my plant is only one to two feet. The flower clusters of four season type osmanthus can be white, creamy to yellowish color. They starts the flower show continuously off and on to summer, not a bad investment

    Bookmark   February 8, 2007 at 2:02PM
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herman_neutics

Happy New Year

I am growing Chimonanthus praecox var. 'luteus'. Does anyone know which is correct 'Lutea' or 'Luteus' are they the same?

Bogturtle I am also in SE NJ. I fund that wintersweet like fast drainage and some shelter from wind/reflected heat.

Here is a link that might be useful: My 'Luteus' pics posted here.

    Bookmark   January 12, 2008 at 11:30AM
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kaihui(Z7 VA)

Good to know it is called Pupple Heart.

I bought one plant last Oct, it is still a little plant (3 ft tall, maybe_. The nursery told me it would take 5-7 year to bloom, but I got few buds already. Today I picked up the first flower. I was surprised because it looked different from what I saw in China(That must be the yellow wax one). Those I saw in China were purely yellow.

Here is my little plant. I'd say it is still quite fragrant.

Kai

    Bookmark   January 13, 2008 at 12:10AM
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kaihui(Z7 VA)

Hi, Longriver, (or whoever can help),
The one I have is a purple heart. It is different from what I saw in china. I guess I what a Waxy Yellow, like photos below(photos are downloaded from internet). Do you know where I can guy some?

Thanks,

Kai


    Bookmark   January 13, 2008 at 11:10PM
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keyechiang

Hi, Kaihui,
I supply pure yellow Fragrant Wintersweet (La-Mei) seedlings and seeds. April is the right time for seedling to transplant, let me know if you interested. And see my link in http://keyecsc.googlepages.com/.

    Bookmark   February 5, 2008 at 3:42PM
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pinkspoonbill

I have been looking for wintersweet for several months now, and am dying to smell it. I've never seen it, and no nurseries around me have even heard of it. Keyechiang, would you be willing to trade a seedling or rooted plant of the La-Mei? I am also interested in the ones with the purple, in any that are highly fragrant. I've been after chimonanthus praecox. If anyone wants to trade seeds, rooted cuttings or seedlings, I'd be very interested. Keyechiang, I didn't see your email link on your page. Please email me if you wish to trade; I have a link on my page. Also, I'll check this thread probably every day to see if anyone wishes to trade for this plant.

Thanks.

    Bookmark   February 18, 2008 at 12:29AM
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forever_a_newbie(z7/8 VA)

Our 3.5 year old wintersweet plant (pure yellow) from seeds bloomed last Friday!

It is about 4~5 feet and doesn't carry a lot of buds. Currently there are only 2 flowers and the smell is sweet though not too strong. But anyway it is a great pleasure to see that this baby finally makes it.

John (longriver) sent me a couple cuttings 4 years ago but they finally got dried out. Fortunately my friend happened to get some seeds back from our collegue in Wuhan China. I started a few in early 2005. Got 2 plants. The one in bloom is planted facing south in full sun. The other one is facing east and about 1/4 the size. A friend digged it out and I hope it will do better in her home (she is going to plant it in full sun too).

Happy gardening!

Changsong

    Bookmark   December 15, 2008 at 10:33PM
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longriver(SF Bay Area)

I notice that there are at least two kinds of yellow type LaMai: shape of pointed petals and round petals. I saw a round petal laMei at a small town, QinTong, north of Nanjiang in 2005.

I have a good year in seed germinating. I harvested the seed pods early, in Sep. The seed shell was cut open very carefully without damaging the seed. So far all my seedlings have been growing very nice. My previous mistake was to harvest seeds too late.

    Bookmark   December 19, 2008 at 6:54PM
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