Sweetshrub – Care

Q: After many months of searching I have located an old fashioned sweetshrub bush on a private lot. I do not know the botanical name of this plant but its blooms have a very distinctive sweet odor. The plant in question is obviously many years old and many seedling have come up around the main bush. Do you know if one of these transplanted seedlings will produce blooms or must I try to get seeds when they mature in the Fall? These plants do not seem to be available in local nurseries.

A: You are in luck! Many gardeners remember the perfume of a sweetshrub from their youth but can=t find one to plant now. Those lucky enough to find a plant at a nursery are sometimes disappointed to discover that its spring blooms have no smell. Some botanists have theorized that there are two strains of the bush – one with fragrant flowers, one without. The only way to insure having a scented plant is to obtain a genetic copy of one that is known to be aromatic. That=s where you’re fortunate, assuming you’ve personally smelled the blooms of the plant you have discovered. Most of the sprouts near the existing bush are root sprouts and are genetically identical to their parent. Other sprouts may have come from seeds but they will also have a strong propensity to bear sweet blooms. Offer to share extra seedling plants with your friends – they will thank you next April.

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