Choisya ternata

Common Name: Mexican orange 
Type: Broadleaf evergreen
Family: Rutaceae
Native Range: Mexico
Zone: 7 to 10
Height: 4.00 to 8.00 feet
Spread: 4.00 to 8.00 feet
Bloom Time: May to September
Bloom Description: White
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Medium
Suggested Use: Hedge
Flower: Showy, Fragrant
Leaf: Fragrant
Tolerate: Rabbit, Drought


Winter hardy to USDA Zones 7b-10. This shrub may be grown outdoors in locations where winter temperatures only occasionally dip to the area of 5-10 degrees F., but performs best in mild winter locations. Site in areas protected from cold winter winds. Where winter hardy, it is easily grown in humusy, fertile, moist but well-drained soils in full sun to part shade. Best in morning sun with some protection from hot afternoon sun. Established plants are tolerant of brief periods of drought. Prune stems immediately after flowering to encourage an additional, albeit sporadic, summer or fall bloom. Propagate by stem cuttings in summer. North of USDA Zone 7, plants may be grown in containers which are brought indoors in winter.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Choisya ternata, commonly known as Mexican orange or Mexican orange blossom, is a compact, rounded, evergreen shrub of the rue family that typically matures to 4-8’ tall and as wide. It is native to the southwestern U.S. (Texas, New Mexico and Arizona) and most of Mexico. It is noted for its glossy, aromatic, trifoliate, medium green leaves (each elliptic to oblanceolate leaflet to 1-3” long) and its fragrant, star-shaped, white flowers. Flowers (each to 1 1/4” wide) bloom from late spring to early summer in terminal corymbs. Some plants may produce an intermittent continued bloom throughout summer and/or a light fall bloom. Fruit is a 2-6 sectioned capsule. Crushed leaves have the fragrance of oranges and the white flowers have the fragrance of orange blossoms as indicated by the common names of this shrub.

Genus name honors Jacques Denis Choisy (1799-1859), Swiss botanist and professor of philosophy at Geneva.

Specific epithet is in reference to the trifoliate leaves.


No serious insect or disease problems.


Specimen or group. Shrub borders. Hedge. Foundations. Containers.