Escallonia is an attractive shrub which is easy to grow in the right conditions. There are many good reasons to grow Escallonia and which make it so attractive. It is evergreen with lovely glossy leaves and produces a profusion of flowers in late spring and early summer which are usually pink, red or white, and in some varieties, scented. Escallonia looks good as a specimen shrub, but also makes a great hedge and is often used for hedging in coastal gardens where it is very suitable for growing. Escallonia are tolerant of windy areas and of salt spray, but not of cold winds.The only point to take note of when growing Escallonia is that it is slightly tender side which means it is not suitable for very cold or exposed gardens. It is often described as H4 hardy,(what does frost hardy mean?) wich is hardy in most of the UK as -5-10 degrees. In reality most Escallonia are not fully hardy which means it is best to check the variety carefully and all are best grown in a sheltered spot and can suffer in a bad winter with die back on the leaves and scorching. Escallonia is an ideal shrub for sea side gardens; the image on the right is of an Escallonia hedge growing in Guernsey. Escallonia are best planted in full sun into good well drained soil away from cold winds. Escallonia are trouble free, requiring no maintenance.
Escallonia are low maintenance and do not require pruning, but should you feel the need it is best not to prune in the spring, which will be before flowering and result in no flowers that year. It can be tempting to take the secateurs to the garden in the spring, but if Escallonia, or similar spring flowering shrubs are pruned, the wood carrying the flowers will be cut off. Either do not prune it or prune it with just a light shearing after flowering in late summer.
Escallonia grow to around 3m with 2.5m spread. This means if you are growing Escallonia as a hedge, and it is a very popular hedging plant, it needs to be planted about 45 cms apart. If the Escallonia has outgrown its alloted space it is possible to prune it harder to re shape and reduce in size. If an Escallonia has got out of hand, it will respond to hard pruing although it may not flower the year after pruning it will recover.
Which variety of Escallonia are best?
All Escallonia are bee friendly and although their flowers are relatively small they are attractive to bees.
Escallonia 'Apple Blossom' illustrated top right is a compact variety, with a profusion of scented flowers from early to mid summer which are white, flushed apple-blossomed pink H4 hardy which means it needs to be planted in a sheltered spot, 2.5 x 2 (height.) Apple Blossom has some of the largest flowers in this group.
Escallonia 'Donard Seedling' a vigorous shrub which has flowers white ,flushed pink, early to mid summer from pink buds and has very attractive glossy foliage. 'Donard Seedling' is one of the hardiest of Escallonia to grow which makes it suitable for colder inland gardens, but still plant away from cold winds. Growing to 3 x 2.5 m
Escallonai 'Iveyi' illustrated above center is a RHS award winning variety with larger, dark green foliage and pure white flowers, but it is only H4 hardy and so only suitable for sheltered and coastal gardens. Overall size 3 x 3m. It is one of the most popular Escallonia to grow and it's flowers are described as scented.
Other varieties of Escallonia are E.Leucantha which is large 3.5 x 3m with white flowers but needs the shelter of south facing wall is H4 hardy. E. Virgata is similar, but smaller and H4 hardy and E. 'Langleyensis' which is evergreen or semi evergreen and more arching in appearance with pink/red flowers and again ** hardy. There are only two other varieties of Escallonia which are H5 which is hardy to -10-15 degrees namely, E. 'C.F.Ball' which is bright red flowering and 'Edinensis' pink/red flowering.
This means if you garden on the coast, or in a sheltered spot, there are many several varieties of Escallonia which may suit your garden but if you plot is exposed or cold, the main choice is 'Donard Seedling' which is lovely.
There are now some dwarf varieties of Escallonia such as E.'Pink Pixie' which as the name suggests has lovely pink flowers, (not scented) the same glossy leaves but only grows to around 80cms x 80cms and is fast growing. Ideal for container growing on a patio or balcony. Similar is E. Pink Elle, a little larger reaching 100cms, and E. rubra ‘Pygmaea’ about 75cms.
There is a variety with golden leaves, E. laevis ‘Gold Ellen’, although to my mind it doesn't look any where near as handsome as those varieties with the dark green glossy leaves.
For an alternative similar shrub, as in an evergreen flowering shrub with scented flowers, but which is more hardy, try Choisya.
Check out Fast Growing Evergreen Shrubs for more planting ideas.