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CHIMONANTHUS praecox

Image of Chimonanthus praecox

James Burghardt

Family

Calycanthaceae

Botanical Name

CHIMONANTHUS praecox

Plant Common Name

Japanese Allspice, Wintersweet

Special Notice

This entry has yet to be reviewed and approved by L2G editors.

General Description

Break the dreariness of winter with the fragrant flowers that don the wintersweet. Native to the woodlands in China, this slow-growing shrub with an upright but broad shape can begin to look a bit leggy and unkempt with old age.

Depending on climate, the bare branches reveal many bowl-shaped flowers that face downward, appearing anytime from midwinter to early spring. The fragrant flowers' waxy petals are light lemony yellow with a center that is sienna to purplish brown in color. Dry fruits follow but aren't showy. The elongated leaves with sharply tapering points are attranged in opposite pairs on the twigs. In autumn the leaves attain only yellow-green hues at best.

Grow wintersweet in any fertile, well-draining soil. Full sun exposures suffice, but if in a hot summer region or soils are typically dry, shade in the afternoon is highly recommeneded. Use this shrub as a component of a mixed shrub border or in the clearings of a woodland. It can also be trained as an espalier. Severely prune back plants immediately after flowering in early spring to encourage a lush attractive rejuvenation. Flowers occur on year-old wood, so don't further prune the regrowth during summer or fall.

Characteristics

  • AHS Heat Zone

    9 - 4

  • USDA Hardiness Zone

    7 - 9

  • Sunset Zone

    4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21

  • Plant Type

    Shrub

  • Sun Exposure

    Partial Sun, Partial Shade

  • Height

    10'-15' / 3.0m - 4.6m

  • Width

    6'-10' / 1.8m - 3.0m

  • Bloom Time

    Early Spring, Winter, Late Winter

  • Native To

    China

Growing Conditions

  • Soil pH

    Acidic, Neutral, Alkaline

  • Soil Drainage

    Well Drained

  • Soil type

    Clay, Loam, Sand

  • Growth Rate

    Slow

  • Water Requirements

    Average Water

  • Habit

    Upright/Erect

  • Seasonal Interest

    Spring, Winter

Ornamental Features

  • Flower Interest

    Showy

  • Flower Color

    Light Yellow, Dark Red, Sienna

  • Flower Color Modifier

    Bicolor

  • Fruit Color

    Tan, Silver

  • Foliage Color (Spring)

    Green

  • Foliage Color (Summer)

    Green

  • Foliage Color (Fall)

    Yellow Green

  • Bark Color

    Gray

  • Fragrant Flowers

    Yes

  • Fragrant Fruit

    No

  • Flower Petal Number

    Single

  • Repeat Bloomer

    No

  • Showy Fruit

    No

  • Edible Fruit

    No

  • Showy Foliage

    No

  • Foliage Texture

    Coarse

  • Foliage Sheen

    Glossy

  • Evergreen

    No

  • Showy Bark

    No

Special Characteristics

  • Bark Texture

    Smooth

  • Usage

    Feature Plant, Mixed Border

  • Sharp or Has Thorns

    No

  • Invasive

    No

  • Self-Sowing

    No