Monday, February 15, 2010
Fragrant Wintersweet in Bloom Now
It's mid-February and you may have already missed seeing the fragrant yellow blossoms of wintersweet (Chimonanthus praecox). Its tiny flowers, 3/4 to 1 inch across, open in the coldest period of the winter season. Blooms are weather-proof, rarely injured when nighttime temps dip below freezing in zones 6 and 7. Bloom injury likely occurs as evening temps approach zero °F.
Wintersweet is a 10-15 foot tall and wide shrub, and grows well in any soil type provided it is adequately drained. Summer foliage is lustrous dark green, turning yellow-green in fall before dropping its leaves.
Every 5 to 6 years, a tall, often leggy fragrant wintersweet requires a complete rejuvenation. Prune the entire shrub back to within 4-6 inches from the ground after blooms have vanished in late March. It will grow back rapidly and bloom again next January.