Sweetly Scented Summer Flowering Shrubs

Sweetly scented summer flowering shrubs

I relish plants that produce fragrant flowers.  Philadelphus aren’t the most memorable group of plants for ten or eleven months of the year, but while they’re in flower, these shrubs perfume the garden with their intoxicating and deliciously sweet scent.


Philadelphus are a genus of around 40 species of shrubs, which originate from Europe, America, and Asia. Plants can be propagated by softwood cuttings in summer and hardwood cuttings in autumn and winter.

Philadelphus aren’t fussy plants, they’re fully hardy and flower reliably every year.  Plant in full sun or partial shade, in any well drained soil.  The flowers produced by these cultivars are all wonderfully fragrant:

Philadelphus ‘Sybille’

‘Sybille’ reaches an eventual maximum height of 1.5m (5ft), spreading up to 2.5m (8ft) wide.  This cultivar produces a bounty of open centred, white flowers which are highlighted with mauve at their centre.

Philadelphus ‘Beauclerk’

The larger cultivar, ‘Beauclerk’ grows to a maximum of 2.5m (8ft) in height and width.  Its flowers’ centres are blushed with mauve.

Philadelphus ‘Manteau d’Hermine’

If you have a small garden, don’t despair, Philadelphus ‘Manteau d’Hermine’ grows to an eventual maximum width of 1.5m (5ft) wide and a height of just 1m (3.3ft).  The only drawback with this plant, is its pure white, double flowers aren’t accessible to bees.

Philadelphus ‘Belle Etoile’

Philadelphus ‘Belle Etoile’ grows to an eventual maximum height of 1.5m (5ft) and a width of 1.5-2.5m (5-8ft).

I’ve found Philadelphus ‘Belle Etoile’ (height 1.5m (5ft) width 1.5-2.5m (5-8ft)) to be a great container plant.  Once ‘Belle Etoile’ comes into bloom, the plant is welcomed onto my patio, where its flowers and their delectable fragrance are cherished, both by me and the local bees.  Once the flowers fade, my plant is swiftly pruned, before it’s swapped out onto my growing area and replaced by another plant.  My Philadelphus ‘Belle Etoile’ plants are growing in Dalefoot Composts Wool Potting Compost.  For tips on planting up containers, please click here.

Pruning Philadelphus plants

As soon as your Philadelphus flowers start to fade, it’s time to prune your shrub.  If your plant is displaying any dead or damaged stems, remove these first, cutting right back to ground level or the plant’s main stem.  Next remove any thin, spindly growth.  Then, cut back your plant’s faded flowering stems beyond their spent flowers, to encourage stronger growth.  Finally, prune out and remove 25% of your shrub’s oldest stems; this will encourage your Philadelphus to produce strong new shoots.  Philadelphus plants flower on their previous year’s growth; so, pruning immediately after flowering will give your plants the maximum amount of time to develop strong, new growth, to produce next year’s flowers.

Don’t forget to take cuttings.  The strong and healthy stems you remove when you prune your Philadelphus plants will make super cuttings to increase your stock.  To turn your prunings into cuttings: re-cut your stems – cutting just below a leaf; then remove the stem’s lower leaves and insert your cuttings around the edge of a pot of peat-free compost.

After pruning, water your plant well and mulch with peat-free compost.

Philadelphus coronarius ‘Variegatus’ and Philadelphus ‘Innocence’

Philadelphus are deciduous shrubs, most cultivars produce simple, green leaves.  If you’d like something a bit different, look out for Philadelphus coronarius ‘Variegatus’, which produces green leaves, outlined with pretty cream margins, or Philadelphus ‘Innocence’, whose green leaves are marked with irregular splashes of yellow.  Both these plants’ eventual height and width will vary, depending on your soil type and the plant’s growing conditions; plants can grow from 1.5 to 2.5 meters (5-8ft) tall.  Naturally, both of these plants produce the sweetly scented flowers that this genus of deciduous shrubs are famous for.  Bees appreciate these open centred flowers, too.

This is Philadelphus ‘Virginal’, a taller shrub that grows to 3m (10ft) tall and 2.5m (8ft) wide.

For more gardening advice for June, please click here.

This article was first published in the June 2019 edition of Vantage Point Magazine.

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One thought on “Sweetly Scented Summer Flowering Shrubs

  1. Anne Liem

    June 7, 2019 at 4:52pm

    Thank you for adding this shrub to my memory. I love fragrant flowers also and especially this one has beautiful flowers. I was not familiar with Philadelphus before.

    • Author

      Pumpkin Beth

      June 7, 2019 at 4:59pm

      It’s my pleasure Anne. There’s nothing better than sharing the joy of beautiful, fragrant flowers. I hope you can enjoy the scent of sweetly perfumed Philadelphus flowers this month.

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