Mexican Orange (choisya) Help? (Pics)

gardenbug(8b)February 18, 2011

I'm in Zone 8b, Fraser Valley, BC

I just went out to take a look at my Mexican Orange and I took a couple of pics. I noticed several of the stems have lost their leaves and it looks somewhat bare in places. Also, some of the tips have turned brown. Should I prune it or cut off the brown tips? Will the leaves grow back? Should I give it some fertilizer? If so, what should I use and when?

Thank you for your help.

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gardenbug(8b)

I'm sorry, I forgot to add the pics. Here they are:
I just want to know if I should prune it now or not. Or should I just remove all the dead ends. They are starting to sprout some new growth. Thanks for helping me.

    Bookmark   February 18, 2011 at 5:01PM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

Wants the warmth and good drainage of its Mexican native habitat. For you it would seem to be strictly a sheltered, sunny nook plant not situated where blasted by winter winds coming down the valley. Many specimens damaged by coldest winters even in Seattle, where it is milder than up there (Seattle is not at the mouth of a major river that drains continental air from the interior, unlike Vancouver and Portland; various kinds of trees and shrubs are more able to overwinter intact in Seattle than they are in Portland, even though Portland is some distance to the south).

When tops of plants of all kinds look bad it is often due to unfavorable conditions at the root, I am sure you will have to lift your shrub and put it in a better spot to keep it going at all well. If planted in soil on the heavy side washing the roots and replanting in a much lighter soil may be needed. Maybe try it next month or even later, when it is warmer. But well before the top starts to grow much, whenever that is.

... hardy to 15ðF/ð9ðC. ... prone to root rot and crown rot if drainage is poor

Here is a link that might be useful: Choisya ternata - Mexican Orange, Mock Orange - Plant Finder- Sunset.com

    Bookmark   February 18, 2011 at 5:48PM
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xantippe(8 Portland OR)

I have a one against the west-facing side of my house, and it looks like that every winter. I prune off the damaged growth in the spring (March or April), and by May, it's looking fabulous. It IS in an incredibly warm micro-climate, however. So, if yours isn't too big or established to move, I would consider that. Also, yours looks pretty leggy in general. Pruning it every year should help with that, too.

    Bookmark   February 18, 2011 at 11:33PM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

Local soils get cold and soggy in winter, making conditions much worse for kinds of plants needing warm and well aerated soils. Even rhododendrons, although adversely affected by heating up of the root zone do not do well in the heaviness of many local soils, particularly if flooding or puddling sometimes occur.

Even the locally native lowland Rhododendron macrophyllum is seen growing naturally pretty much only in areas with sandy or otherwise very well - even excessively - drained soils. One site I was on one time had been cleared for development but not yet developed after at least a few years. Hundreds of coast rhododendron seedlings were growing together with those of hairy manzanita - the presence of the latter showing just what kind of soil the rhododendron responds to.

The native rhododendron being absent from extensive areas not having perfect drainage is not unusual behavior, many other kinds of plants occur in nature only where soils are just so. Extensive sections in our region having mostly the same small set of native trees and shrubs dominating the uncleared landscape is due in part to glaciation diminishing the assortment but also due to the excellent aeration and drainage demanded by so many plants not being present.

If you are on the flat there in the Fraser River drainage the vegetation on your lot, before it was developed may have been most wetland species.

    Bookmark   February 19, 2011 at 12:03AM
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gardenbug(8b)

Thank you for helping me with this. I will wait a little after it warms up a bit and then I'll see if I can find a more sunnier and sheltered spot for it. The location it is in now, gets morning shade and afternoon sun. Drainage is good where it is but it really isn't sheltered from the winds.

I appreciate you help on this. One question? If I do prune it now, will I lose the flowers this year? Thanks again.

    Bookmark   February 19, 2011 at 2:43PM
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