Escallonia

Escallonia macrantha rubra

These glossy evergreens are widely grown for their abundance of tiny colourful flowers. Although not fully hardy in the UK, they often will do very well by the coast or inland in warm sunny sheltered spot.

Family: Escalloniaceae
Botanical Name: Escallonia
Common Names: Chilean gum box

Foliage: Small glossy, finely toothed, leaves. Evergreen to semi-evergreen.

Flowers: Clusters of small tubular white, pink or red flowers (depending on variety).

Flowering Period: Early summer to early autumn.

Soil: Moist but well-drained soil (chalk, clay, sand or loam). Acid, alkaline or neutral pH.

Conditions
: Full sun, in a south, west or east facing aspect, exposed or sheltered.

Habit: Bushy, fast growing.

Type: Shrub.

Origin: North and South America.

Hardiness: Hardy in milder areas of the UK.

Planting and Growing Escallonia

Plant in any reasonable garden soil, in sun or partial shade. Best in a sunny, sheltered spot. Preferably against a wall in cooler northern districts. Can also be planted containers but will need protection from cold winds.

Lime-tolerant, pollution tolerant and ideal for coastal regions.

Many forms of Escallonia make an excellent dense evergreen hedge, although it will flower less freely due to the additional pruning required. To form a hedge plant 2ft (75cm) apart.

Although many forms of this fast growing shrub can reach a height and spread of up to 10ft (3m). They respond well to pruning, so will do just as well in the small garden.

Taking Care of Escallonia

Water thoroughly during dry weather until well established. Mulch with organic matter in spring. Feed with a general fertilizer weekly during the flowering period.

Severe frost can cause damage, so protect plants in a hard winter.

Pruning Escallonia

Prune back shoots that have flowered in the autumn and cut out any straggling shoots and dead or damaged growth. Trim hedges in the autumn after flowering is finished.

Flowers form on the old wood of the previous year's growth, so excessive pruning will affect flowering the next year.

Pests and Diseases

Virus diseases may cause mottling, streaking, or distorting of the leaves.

Propagating Escallonia

Take 4-6in (10-15cm) semi-hardwood cuttings in mid-summer to mid-autumn. Use a rooting hormone and root in a slightly heated propagator or in a cold frame. Escallonia cuttings root quickly and should be potted up as soon as roots develop.

Can also be propagated easily from layering.

Popular Varieties of Escallonia Grown in the UK

E. x 'Apple Blossom' produces early and midsummer flowers in shades of white, pink and red. Height to 5ft (1.5m).

E. 'Crimson Spire' is a good hedging form with light crimson flowers. Eventual height 8ft to 12ft (2.5 to 3.5m).

E. 'Donard Brilliance' has large leaves and crimson flowers on arching shoot. Height to 5ft (1.5m).

E. 'Donard Seedling' has fragrant pale pink flowers in June. Height and spread to 12ft (3.5m).

E. 'Edinensis' has small leaves and pink flowers in arching sprays. Height to 6ft (1.8m).

E. 'Glory of Donard' pink flowers.

E. 'Iveyi' is a medium-sized white flowered form. Height to 6ft (1.8m).

E. 'Langleyensis' is a tall arching form with rose-pink flowers. Height to 8ft (2.5m).

E. macrantha is a half-hardy evergreen with glossy, deep green leaves and bright red flowers in summer. A large vigorous form ideal for hedging. Height to 6ft (1.8m).

E. x 'Peach Blossom' is a small leaved form with peach-pink flowers in June-July. Height to 6ft (1.8m), spread 5ft (1.5m).

E. rubra is a large shrub with dark, glossy leaves and dark crimson to pink flowers. Eventual height 8ft to 12ft (2.5 to 3.5m).