Chimonanthus Praecox / Fragrant Wintersweet
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.
Chimonanthus praecox is a deciduous shrub, native to China that grows to 10 to 15 feet tall and to 8 to 10 feet wide. It has long been valued in the South for its very fragrant flowers which appear in mid-winter.
The flowers appear along the bare wintertime branches and are yellowish-cupped stars with a reddish-purple eye about 3/4 - 1 inch wide. The flowering branches provide a delightful fragrance on warmer afternoons or when cut and brought indoors. In fall, the leaves turn a soft lemon color.
Chimonanthus praecox adds a lot of fragrance and a little color to the winter garden. What else but yellow flowers to brighten a cloudy day in January? If you want more plants in bloom during the dead of winter, this large shrub is a must. Plant against a dark backdrop such as evergreen to bring out the yellow flowers.
Other Names: Japanese Allspice, Wintersweet
Zone: 7 to 9 (possibly 6)
Growth Rate: Slow
Plant Type: Deciduous Flowering Shrub
Native Range: China
Height: 10 to 15 feet
Spread: 8 to 12 feet
Shape: Upright spreading to irregular branching.
Bloom Time: Mid Winter (January)
Bloom Color: Yellow
Flower/Fruit: Flowers to 1" across with spicy fragrance followed by 1 1/2” elliptic seed pods.
Sun: Full Sun to Part Shade
Fall Color: Yellow
Drought Tolerance: Moderate to High
Site Requirements /Soil Tolerances: Easily grown in average, medium, well-drained soil in full sun to part shade. Grows somewhat taller in shade than in sun. Tolerant of a wide range of soils, but prefers rich loams.
Culture: Can be severely pruned after flowering to rejuvenate.
Uses: Specimen near the front door, patio, or other living areas where the fragrant flower aroma may be enjoyed. Shrub borders. Foundations. Native plant areas.