Murraya paniculata

Murraya paniculata clipped to form a hedge and topiary

Sometimes known as orange jessamine, this evergreen shrub hails from tropical Asia and grows in a dense rounded form up to 3m in height if unpruned. It has small, shiny dark green leaves and beautifully scented white flowers which appear in mid to late spring and again in late summer; and often after a heavy downpour of rain. It probably has become something of a cliche as a hedge in Sydney gardens, as it endures regular pruning so well, but it is a great plant as it is so eminently suited to our climate and forms a good backdrop to flowering perennials and smaller shrubs. It copes well with hot, dry summers, as well as with humidity. It does not grow so well in cooler areas. The dwarf cultivar 'Min-A-Min' grows to only 1m tall, and could be a useful low hedge, with the added attraction of fragrant flowers and lush green leaves.

Murraya paniculata

It thrives in a sunny spot with moist but well-drained soil which has been amended with humus. Even if it is not being grown as a hedge, it benefits from being trimmed lightly in autumn. The new foliage growth is a lovely lime colour. Although I have never moved or dug out a Murraya, people tell me they have a massive root system. I haven't yet had a problem with drains or pipes from my ones, after 22 years, however.

Another species, Murraya koenigii, is the curry leaf tree which also grows to 3m, the foliage of which is used in Indian and Sri Lankan cooking. I have successfully grown mine in a pot.

Flowers in February, March, April, October, November.

 Out now in my Sydney Garden.