Monday, June 2, 2008

Choisya ternata 'Aztec Pearl'

Plant Of The Week, #2

Choisya ternata 'Aztec Pearl' or Mexican Orange, is a great medium-sized evergreen shrub that grows down to USDA Zone 8. I think this shrub is a little tougher than that, maybe to 7b. As requested, I'll try to post some plants that don't just grow in Seattle in the future, but this might not be one of them... It's in bloom right now so you'll have to forgive me. These are fairly fast growing. Ours started at 2 gallon size and has doubled in 20 months. Ultimately you're looking at about a 4'-0" high and wide shrub. What's so great about it? It's the foliage I think. The flowers are ok, last about a month, attract bees and possibly birds, and are extremely fragrant; but it's the foliage that really smells good. Mexican Orange is the common name because of the spicy scented leaves that, when broken, smell vaguely of orange. Whenever I pass it on a walk I grab a leaf and break it.

I used to not like this plant much, but when the mad botanists that hybridize plants came out with 'Aztec Pearl', I was sold. The more slender and brighter green leaf is much more interesting than the straight species, which has broader, less delicate looking foliage that is frankly pretty boring when not in bloom. And regular Choisya ternata can get really big, so Aztec works better in tighter spaces. Both are drought tolerant once established. The leaves may droop a bit when they're really dry.

"It's like smelling the roses without getting aphids in your nose and a thorn in your cheek. "

ps. That red grass in the foreground is Uncinia uncinata, Hook Sedge. Native of Hawaii. Haven't you seen it on LOST? Sun was planting it in her garden when Charlie kidnapped her. Just kidding.

1 comment:

  1. It is a bit odd, but I loved reading about this plant. I don't have quite as much patience for reading about the boat, but give me your plant review's all day and I will eat them up. Utah plant next okay!


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