Plant of the week Chimonanthus praecox 

Chimonathus praecox or wintersweet/ice flower orginates from China and was introduced as far back as 1766. It is a member of Calycanthacea, its the Chinese arm of the mainly North American based family. There’s 6 members of the family but only 1 is really widely grown within our gardens.

It is a beautiful winter flowering shrub comes complete with a very sweet scent coming from its a dirty lemon colour flowers with a little red base at their bottom. They are often covered in theses flowers from November to end of February. They tend to flower better on plants that are older than 5 years old. They can be grown both as a free standing shrub and also as a wall shrub, if grown as a free standing shrub, it required very little pruning unless it’s required, and then its best to thin out weaker wood, thin out some shoots and older branches reduced down to 30cm in length. If grown against a wall,  the old growths can be thinned and removed and the last years growth that’s just finished flowering, can be reduced down to 3-4 buds. This pruning is best carried out in March after its finishes flowering. It will take a harder prune if required but don’t expect any flowers for a few years. On a wall they can make a plant of about 10ft or free standing around 8ft. They will also grow on most soils including chalk quite happy but prefer a sunny spot like up against a south or west facing wall

chimanathus-praecox

There are 3 cultivars that are pretty widely available

‘Grandiflorus’ It has a deeper yellow flowers with the red base more pronounce. Award of Merit 1928

‘Luteus’ It has larger and more of a waxy yellow flower that lack the redness of praecox and ‘Grandiflorus. Award of Merit 1948

‘Trenython’ slightly more scented and more of a pale cream colour with a maroon centre

They can be found from most good suppliers and can be found in most bigger gardens although there’s a great specimen at RHS Wisley.

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