chimonanthus praecox

Wintersweet (Chimonanthus praecox): How To Grow and Care

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Wintersweet, also known for its botanical name Chimonanthus praecox, is a gorgeous flower that releases a lovely fragrance that gives way to its colloquial term. It is fair to say that everybody seems to love this plant and the feelings it elicits due to its powerful fragrance. 

Continue reading about wintersweet tree and discover everything you need to know about this exciting plant:

yellow wintersweet flowers

Basic Information About Chimonanthus praecox 

  • This scented shrub belongs to the Calycanthacea family of plants. They are also known as Japanese allspice.
  • Throughout the year, people often walk by this lovely plant without paying too much attention to it. Yet, once winter arrives, wintersweet will steal everybody’s attention due to its beautiful scent and striking appearance.
  • Its small yellow flowers produce a pleasant smell and create a sharp contrast with the cold, foggy, and gray winter climate.
  • Wintersweet plants are very hardy, even though they are often considered a delicate flower, the truth is that they prefer cold winters, and they will thrive best as soon as the temperature starts to drop.
  • This ornamental shrub is native to China (1), where they have named it “plum in wax,” which directly references the bright yellow color the flowers have similar to that of pure wax. In Greek, the word ‘’cheimon,’’ or in this case “chimo’’ means “winter,’’ whereas the word ‘’anthos’’ means ‘’flower’’. 
  • Nowadays, it can be found all over the world, even in areas such as Los Angeles. And even if they don’t experience hard winters there, this shrub will still produce a few blossoms each year. 

Specific Information about Chimonanthus praecox

wintersweet field of flowers

This evergreen shrub will quickly grow large if the right growing conditions have been met. It tends to reach up to 15 feet in height and up to 12 feet wide. They are often pruned as a way to prevent them from growing too much.

This plant’s blooms have large petals, which are bright or creamy yellow, and have a dark brown center, which makes a beautiful contrast. They are oppositely arranged, and they resemble a spiral. 

As its name suggests, they only bloom during winter, although in some areas, they will continue to bloom throughout spring as well.

The blooming process is soon followed by the fruit, which is only a dry capsule. This shrub is known for turning its foliage yellow during fall.

According to the US Agricultural Department, the Chimonanthus praecox will thrive best in zones 7 to 9 and sometimes in zone 6, but they must be protected against frosts.

How To Grow and Care for Wintersweet Plant

wintersweet flower and buds

This evergreen shrub is relatively easy to maintain. Here is everything you need to know to grow healthy Wintersweet:

Light Requirements

japanese allspice flowers

This bush prefers to be fully exposed to the sun. In fact, the more sunlight they receive, the better they will grow. However, if not enough space is available or summers are too hot, then the shrub could be placed under partial shade.

Scorching heat will damage the plant’s leaves, and it will slow down its growth. 

Water Needs

wintersweet flower buds

This shrub is very hardy, and it can go a couple of days without receiving any water, especially during fall or winter. Yet, if you live in a hot summer zone, you will need to water it regularly. This could mean four times a week, at least, but it will all depend on the climate. 

During winter, it is advisable to water it only when the soil requires it. For you to know when is the right moment, simply place two fingers in the soil, if it’s moist, then leave it as it is. If it’s too compacted or dried, then you need to water it thoroughly. 

Soil Preferences

This bush does not have a soil preference. As a result, it will thrive in alkaline, acidic, or clay soils. However, they need to have well-drained soil, especially if they are in an area with plenty of rainfall.

Pests and Diseases

Wintersweet is a very hardy shrub. Not only can they survive the hardest of winters, but they are also strong enough to be healthy and to avoid most pests and diseases.

Pruning

The maintenance of this shrub mainly relies on its pruning because they need regular pruning.

Do keep in mind that the stems need to be at least a year old to bear flowers. If they are not, they will not produce flowers for a year or so.

It is advisable to remove all the broken branches or even the dead flowers or wood that you see. This way, the bush will have more opportunities to thrive.


FAQs

Here are some questions answered. Hopefully, they will make this planting journey easier for all.

Conclusion

wintersweet flowers

This exotic plant will surely catch people’s attention due to its beautiful scented flowers. And even if they are often considered delicate, they can survive the most challenging winters, and they will still bloom amazingly well.

This ornamental shrub is much loved because it doesn’t require a lot of maintenance. On the contrary, just a little prune here and then will do the job!

References

Reference List:

(1) Li Z, Jiang Y, Liu D, Ma J, Li J, Li M, Sui S. Floral Scent Emission from Nectaries in the Adaxial Side of the Innermost and Middle Petals in Chimonanthus praecox. Int J Mol Sci. 2018 Oct 22;19(10):3278. doi: 10.3390/ijms19103278. PMID: 30360370; PMCID: PMC6214010 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30360370/

(2) Zhao Y, Ren Y, Xu Y, Yan M, Huo Y, Zhao X, Yuan Z. The complete chloroplast genome sequence of Chimonanthus praecox cv. concolor. Mitochondrial DNA B Resour. 2019 Sep 24;4(2):3236-3237. doi: 10.1080/23802359.2019.1669084. PMID: 33365934; PMCID: PMC7707377.

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*image by [email protected]/depositphotos

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