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Plant Profile: Wintersweet (Chimonanthus praecox)

Wintersweet OIf you want a fabulously fragrant shrub for an entryway consider wintersweet. Its cheerful yellow blooms appear on leafless stems in late winter to early spring filling the air with a spicy fragrance. As spring progresses the lustrous, dark green, almond shaped leaves emerge creating a good background for other spring or summer flowering shrubs or a perfect place for summer flowering vines to ramble. In autumn the leaves turn yellow-green before they fall. Branches of wintersweet can be forced into bloom in winter and will fill the whole room with their wonderful scent.

Type: Deciduous flowering shrub.

Outstanding Feature: Fragrant flowers in late winter-early spring.

Form: Large mound.

Growth Rate: Slow.

Bloom: Fragrant, waxy sulfur-yellow flowers with purple-brown centers in late winter to early spring; produced on previous season’s growth.

Size: 10-15’ H x 8-12’ W.

Light: Sun to light shade.

Soil: Moist well drained; preferably acidic; tolerates a wide variety soils if not too dry or wet.

Hardiness: Zones 7-9.

Care: Since the flowers appear on the previous years’ growth, dead, diseased and a few old stems should be removed at ground level each year. Removing seed heads will increase flower production the following year.

Pests and Diseases: Susceptible to aphids, mites, leaf beetles but none cause serious problems.

Propagation: Seed; softwood cuttings.

Outstanding Selection: ‘Grandiflorus’ has deeper yellow flowers with red centers but is less fragrant.

Comments: Needs a sheltered site against a wall or in a border. Shrub may take several years before it starts to bloom.

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