Mexican Orange (Choisya Ternata ‘Lich’ SUNDANCE)

Plant: Table of Contents

Mexican Orange (Choisya ternata ‘Lich’ SUNDANCE): The Complete Guide

Plants play a vital role in adding beauty and vibrancy to our surroundings. Mexican Orange, scientifically known as Choisya ternata ‘Lich’ SUNDANCE, is a popular evergreen shrub that is cherished for its lush foliage, aromatic flowers, and easy maintenance. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the culture, uses, care requirements, and much more about this exquisite plant. So, let’s dive in and unravel the captivating world of Mexican Orange.

What is Mexican Orange (Choisya ternata ‘Lich’ SUNDANCE)?

Mexican Orange, also known by its scientific name Choisya ternata ‘Lich’ SUNDANCE, is a striking evergreen shrub that belongs to the Rutaceae family. This plant is native to the southwestern United States, Mexico, and Central America. It is revered for its glossy, aromatic foliage and fragrant white flowers, making it a popular choice for ornamental and landscape purposes.

Key Takeaways – Mexican Orange (Choisya ternata ‘Lich’ SUNDANCE)

Before delving into the specific aspects of Mexican Orange, let’s outline the key takeaways that we’ll explore in detail throughout this guide:

  • Culture:

    • Understanding the ideal growing conditions for Mexican Orange.
  • Uses:

    • Exploring the various applications of Mexican Orange in gardens and landscapes.
  • Water:

    • Discussing the watering requirements and best practices for maintaining adequate moisture levels.
  • Sunlight:

    • Shedding light on the sunlight preferences and positioning for Mexican Orange.
  • Fertilizer:

    • Unveiling the essential nutrients and fertilization requirements for promoting healthy growth.
  • Soil:

    • Analyzing the soil preferences and composition that best suit Mexican Orange.
  • Pruning:

    • Exploring the techniques and timing for proper pruning to maintain shape and vigor.
  • Propagation:

    • Understanding the methods for propagating Mexican Orange to expand its presence.
  • Container Popularity:

    • Examining its suitability and care requirements for container gardening.
  • Common Diseases:

    • Identifying potential diseases that may affect Mexican Orange and how to manage them.
  • Common Pests:

    • Highlighting the common pests that may pose a threat to Mexican Orange and methods of control.
  • Botanist’s Tips:

    • Valuable insights and tips from experts to ensure the optimal health of Mexican Orange.
  • Fun Facts:

    • Unveiling intriguing and lesser-known facts about Mexican Orange.

Now that we have outlined our roadmap, let’s delve into the fascinating world of Mexican Orange and explore its unique characteristics, care requirements, and much more.


Cultivating Mexican Orange successfully entails creating an environment that mimics its natural habitat to ensure optimal growth and development. Understanding its native environment and optimal growing conditions is crucial for nurturing this beautiful shrub.

Native Habitat

Mexican Orange (Choisya ternata ‘Lich’ SUNDANCE) is native to the rocky slopes and dry forests of the southwestern United States, Mexico, and Central America. It thrives in regions characterized by well-draining soil, ample sunlight, and moderate moisture. The plant is often found in areas with mild, Mediterranean-like climates, making it well-suited for similar environments.

Growing Zones

When considering the cultivation of Mexican Orange, it is essential to understand the plant’s hardiness zones. Choisya ternata ‘Lich’ SUNDANCE is well-adapted to USDA hardiness zones 7-10, where it flourishes with the right care and attention.

Landscape Use

Mexican Orange is a versatile shrub with various landscape applications. Its compact size, glossy foliage, and fragrant blooms make it an excellent choice for:

  • Hedge or border plantings
  • Foundation plantings
  • Mixed shrub borders
  • Container gardening
  • Fragrance gardens
  • Coastal gardens

Now that we have a better understanding of the cultural aspects and ideal growing conditions for Mexican Orange, let’s explore its diverse uses and how to harness its full potential in various settings.


Mexican Orange possesses a myriad of uses, from its ornamental value to its aromatic properties and landscape versatility. Let’s explore the wide-ranging uses of this captivating evergreen shrub.

Ornamental Value

The glossy, aromatic foliage and fragrant white flowers of Mexican Orange make it a prized ornamental plant. It serves as an eye-catching focal point in gardens, providing year-round interest with its evergreen nature.

Aromatic Properties

The foliage of Mexican Orange carries a delightful fragrance, especially when brushed or crushed. This aromatic quality adds a sensory dimension to outdoor spaces, making it a popular choice for fragrance gardens or areas where the scent can be appreciated.

Landscape Versatility

With its compact and tidy growth habit, Mexican Orange is a valuable addition to various landscape settings. Its uses include:

  • Hedge or Border Plantings: Mexican Orange can be used to create low hedges or as a border plant along walkways, adding structure and visual appeal.

  • Mixed Shrub Borders: Its lush foliage and white blooms complement other shrubs in mixed borders, adding contrast and texture.

  • Foundation Plantings: The compact size and attractive foliage of Mexican Orange make it ideal for planting near buildings and structures to soften architectural lines.

Container Gardening

Mexican Orange also thrives in containers, making it a suitable choice for courtyard gardens, patios, and urban landscapes. Its adaptability to container culture allows for greater flexibility in design and placement, adding beauty to small outdoor spaces.

Now that we understand the cultural aspects and diverse uses of Mexican Orange, let’s delve into its specific care requirements, starting with its basic needs for water and sunlight.


Proper watering is essential for the health and vitality of Mexican Orange. While it can tolerate periods of drought once established, consistent moisture is crucial during its establishment phase and in hot, dry climates.

Watering Needs

  • Establishment Phase: When newly planted, Mexican Orange requires regular watering to aid in root establishment. Water deeply to ensure the soil around the roots is evenly moist, and continue this regimen for the first growing season.

  • Mature Plants: Once established, Mexican Orange is relatively drought-tolerant, requiring watering when the soil becomes dry to a depth of about 2 inches. In hot, dry climates, supplemental watering may be necessary during prolonged dry spells.

Watering Best Practices

  • Soil Moisture: Ensure the soil is well-draining to prevent waterlogged conditions, which can lead to root rot. It’s essential to maintain even soil moisture without creating waterlogged conditions.

  • Watering Technique: Direct the water at the base of the plant to ensure it reaches the root zone. Avoid wetting the foliage to minimize the risk of foliar diseases.

Now that we’ve addressed the watering needs of Mexican Orange, let’s transition to the plant’s requirements for sunlight, an aspect that significantly influences its growth and blooming.


Mexican Orange thrives in ample sunlight, which is crucial for promoting healthy growth, abundant flowering, and vibrant foliage. Understanding its sunlight preferences and positioning is vital in creating an environment where it can flourish.

Sun Requirements

  • Full Sun: Mexican Orange performs best when it receives full sun, defined as at least 6-8 hours of direct sunlight daily. In regions with hot, intense summers, some afternoon shade can be beneficial.

  • Partial Shade: While it prefers full sun, Mexican Orange can tolerate partial shade, especially in regions with scorching afternoon sun. However, reduced sunlight may result in fewer flowers and less compact growth.

Sunlight Best Practices

  • Positioning: Plant Mexican Orange in a location that receives ample sunlight, especially during its active growing season. Be mindful of potential shade from nearby structures or trees and adjust the positioning accordingly.

  • Sun and Heat Protection: In areas with intense sun and heat, provide some afternoon shade during the hottest part of the day to prevent leaf scorch and maintain optimal growing conditions.

Having addressed the importance of water and sunlight, let’s turn our focus to the nutritional needs of Mexican Orange and the role of fertilization in promoting its health and vigor.


Fertilization plays a vital role in providing Mexican Orange with the essential nutrients it needs to thrive and maintain its lush foliage and vibrant blooms. Understanding the fertilizer requirements and application timing is crucial for promoting healthy growth and flowering.

Nutritional Needs

  • Macronutrients: Mexican Orange benefits from a balanced fertilizer that provides essential macronutrients, including nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K), to support overall plant health and vigor.

  • Micronutrients: In addition to macronutrients, it may be beneficial to use a fertilizer that contains essential micronutrients, such as iron, magnesium, and calcium, to address potential deficiencies and ensure optimal nutrient uptake.

Fertilization Timing

  • Spring: Apply a balanced, slow-release fertilizer in early spring as new growth begins. This provides the plant with the necessary nutrients to support vigorous growth and the development of new foliage and flowers.

  • Mid to Late Summer: A light application of fertilizer in mid to late summer can help support the plant’s ongoing growth and prepare it for the coming season. Use a balanced, slow-release fertilizer to avoid excessive growth that may be susceptible to frost damage.

Fertilizer Best Practices

  • Application Rate: Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for the application rate, taking into account the size and age of the plant.

  • Even Distribution: Distribute the fertilizer evenly around the dripline of the plant, where the feeder roots are most concentrated. Avoid direct contact with the trunk to prevent potential root burn.

Now that we have covered the essential aspects of water, sunlight, and fertilizer, let’s move on to the significance of soil and its composition in supporting the growth and development of Mexican Orange.


The soil in which Mexican Orange is planted plays a critical role in providing a stable foundation for root development and nutrient uptake. Understanding its soil preferences and composition is essential for creating an environment where the plant can thrive.

Soil Preferences

  • Well-Draining Soil: Mexican Orange thrives in well-draining soil that allows excess water to flow away from the root zone. Avoid heavy, compacted soils that retain water, as they can lead to root rot.

  • pH Level: The ideal soil pH for Mexican Orange is slightly acidic to neutral, ranging from 6.0 to 7.5. Conduct a soil test to determine the pH level and make amendments as needed to achieve the optimal range.

Soil Composition

  • Organic Matter: Incorporating organic matter, such as compost or well-rotted manure, into the soil can improve its structure, drainage, and nutrient-holding capacity, providing a favorable environment for root growth.

  • Mulching: Applying a layer of organic mulch, such as shredded bark or wood chips, around the base of the plant helps conserve soil moisture, regulate soil temperature, and suppress weed growth.

Soil Best Practices

  • Soil Amendment: If the soil is heavy and poorly draining, amend it with organic matter to improve its structure and drainage. Conversely, if the soil is excessively sandy, adding organic matter can enhance its water and nutrient retention capabilities.

  • Mulch Application: Apply a 2-3 inch layer of mulch around the base of the plant, avoiding direct contact with the stem, to conserve soil moisture and create a conducive environment for root development.

Having addressed the critical role of soil in supporting the growth of Mexican Orange, let’s move on to the aspects of pruning and propagation, which are essential for maintaining its shape and expanding its presence.


Pruning is a fundamental aspect of Mexican Orange care, contributing to its overall health, shape, and blooming ability. Understanding the timing and techniques of pruning is crucial for ensuring the plant’s vigor and aesthetic appeal.

Pruning Timing

  • Spring Pruning: Prune Mexican Orange in early spring, just before new growth emerges. This timing allows for the removal of winter damage and shaping while avoiding interference with the blooming cycle.

  • Summer Pruning: Light summer pruning may be necessary to correct any irregular growth or promote a more compact form. Remove wayward or damaged branches and adjust the overall shape as needed.

Pruning Techniques

  • Deadheading: Remove spent flowers to promote continuous blooming and prevent the formation of seeds, redirecting the plant’s energy toward new growth and flower production.

  • Thinning: Thin out congested or crossing branches to improve air circulation and sunlight penetration, reducing the risk of disease and promoting the overall health of the plant.

Pruning Best Practices

  • Use Clean, Sharp Tools: Use clean, sharp pruning shears to make precise cuts without causing crush or tear injuries to the plant. Disinfect the tools before and after use to minimize the risk of spreading diseases.

  • Prune Conservatively: Avoid over-pruning, as Mexican Orange generally maintains a tidy growth habit. Focus on selective pruning to maintain its natural form while addressing any specific issues, such as unwanted growth or dead/damaged branches.

Now that we have discussed the essential aspects of pruning, let’s turn our attention to the propagation of Mexican Orange, which allows for the expansion of its presence and the creation of new plants.


Propagating Mexican Orange can be achieved through various methods, including stem cuttings and seed propagation. By understanding the propagation process, enthusiasts can multiply the presence of this beautiful shrub in their gardens and landscapes.

Stem Cuttings

  • Timing: The optimal time for taking stem cuttings is during the active growing season, typically in late spring to early summer when the plant is actively producing new growth.

  • Preparation: Select healthy, non-flowering stems and cut them into 4-6 inch sections, ensuring each cutting has several nodes for potential root development. Remove the lower leaves to expose the nodes.

  • Rooting Medium: Plant the cuttings in a well-draining rooting medium, such as a mix of perlite and peat moss, and provide consistent moisture and warmth to encourage root development.

Seed Propagation

  • Seed Collection: Harvest seeds from mature Mexican Orange fruits and clean them to remove any pulp or debris. Store the seeds in a cool, dry place until ready for sowing.

  • Sowing Method: Sow the seeds in a well-draining seed-starting mix and cover them lightly. Maintain consistent moisture and provide indirect sunlight to promote germination and seedling growth.

Propagation Best Practices

  • Provide Bottom Heat: When propagating through stem cuttings, providing gentle bottom heat, such as a heating mat, can expedite root development and increase the success rate of propagation.

  • Patience and Monitoring: Whether propagating through stem cuttings or seeds, patience is key. Monitor the cuttings or seedlings regularly and provide the necessary care to support their development into healthy, thriving plants.

As we have covered the critical topics of pruning and propagation, let’s now turn our focus to the container popularity of Mexican Orange and its suitability for confined spaces.

Container Popularity

Mexican Orange’s adaptability to container culture makes it a sought-after choice for small gardens, urban landscapes, and courtyard settings, bringing a touch of elegance and fragrance to confined spaces. Understanding its care requirements in containers is essential for successfully growing Mexican Orange in this setting.

Container Selection

  • Size and Drainage: Choose a container that provides ample room for root development, with multiple drainage holes to ensure excess water can escape, preventing waterlogged conditions.

  • Material: Opt for a durable, frost-resistant container made of materials such as fiberglass, resin, or concrete, which can withstand the rigors of outdoor conditions and provide insulation to the roots.

Container Care

  • Watering: Container-grown Mexican Orange may require more frequent watering than those in the ground, as containers tend to dry out faster. Monitor the soil moisture closely and water as needed to maintain even moisture levels.

  • Fertilization: Apply a balanced, slow-release fertilizer in spring and mid-summer to supply essential nutrients to the plant, as container-grown plants may deplete nutrients more rapidly.

Container Pruning

  • Size Management: Regular pruning may be necessary to manage the size and shape of Mexican Orange in a container. Pay attention to any excessive growth and maintain a compact form that suits the container’s dimensions.

Container Considerations

  • Winter Protection: In regions with cold winters, insulate the container during the winter months to protect the roots and prevent freeze-thaw damage. Move the container to a sheltered area or provide insulation around the pot.

  • Potting Mix: Use a high-quality potting mix that provides good drainage and aeration, promoting healthy root growth and minimizing the risk of waterlogged conditions.

Having covered the specific care requirements for container-grown Mexican Orange, let’s transition to the potential challenges that may arise, starting with common diseases that can affect the plant and how to manage them effectively.

Common Diseases

While Mexican Orange is generally resilient, it may be susceptible to certain diseases under unfavorable growing conditions. Understanding the symptoms of common diseases and implementing appropriate management strategies is essential for preserving the health and beauty of the plant.

Leaf Spot

  • Symptoms: Leaf spot is characterized by the appearance of dark, water-soaked spots on the foliage, often with a yellow halo around the lesions. In severe cases, the leaves may turn yellow and drop prematurely.

  • Management: Remove and destroy affected leaves to reduce the spread of the disease. Improve air circulation by pruning to reduce humidity around the plant. Apply fungicidal sprays as a preventive measure during periods of high humidity.

Root Rot

  • Symptoms: Root rot is evidenced by the wilting and yellowing of leaves, stunted growth, and eventual collapse of the plant. The roots may appear dark, mushy, and have a foul odor.

  • Management: Ensure well-draining soil and avoid overwatering to prevent waterlogged conditions conducive to root rot. If detected, remove the affected plant carefully, inspect the roots, and consider propagating healthy cuttings if available.

Powdery Mildew

  • Symptoms: Powdery mildew presents as a white, powdery coating on the foliage, often accompanied by leaf distortion and stunted growth. In severe cases, the leaves may become distorted and deformed.

  • Management: Improve air circulation and sunlight exposure to reduce humidity around the plant, minimizing the favorable conditions for powdery mildew. Utilize fungicidal sprays as a preventive measure during periods of high humidity.

Bacterial Blight

  • Symptoms: Bacterial blight causes water-soaked lesions on the foliage, which may turn dark and necrotic. The affected leaves may wilt, and the disease can lead to dieback of branches.

  • Management: Prune and dispose of affected plant parts to prevent the spread of the disease. Ensure proper sanitation when pruning, and avoid working with the plant while it is wet to minimize the risk of spreading the bacteria.

Now that we have addressed the various common diseases that can affect Mexican Orange, let’s move on to the potential pests that may pose a threat to the plant and how to effectively manage them.

Common Pests

Mexican Orange is generally resistant to pests, but it may occasionally encounter pest-related challenges. Understanding the common pests and implementing appropriate control measures is crucial for preserving the plant’s health and vigor.


  • Symptoms: Aphids are small, soft-bodied insects
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Peter Taylors

Expert botanist who loves plants. His expertise spans taxonomy, plant ecology, and ethnobotany. An advocate for plant conservation, he mentors and educates future botanists, leaving a lasting impact on the field.