Elaeagnus is a perennial shrub that blooms during the summer. It gives beautiful very fragrant flowers and the colour of its foliage varies depending on species. The Elaeagnus is a very hardy plant that can withstand almost anything. On the other hand, it does not tolerate overly stagnant humidity, especially during long winter periods, or soil that is too heavy and excessively rich in limestone. 

Elaeagnus is part of the Elaeagnaceae family and is a native to the Himalayas and countries of south East Asia such as China and Japan. Some species are also native to countries in Europe or South America. There are about forty species of Elaeagnus. One of the best-known variety, very popular for its silver foliage, is the Oleaster (Elaeagnus angustifolia). The Elaeagnus’ foliage can either be persistent or deciduous, depending on the species. Most of the time, the leaves may be silvery or variegated. But whatever its specificity, an Elaeagnus always brightens up a garden. Among the Elaeagnus species with variegated leaves are the Limelight, the Gilt Edge, the Maculata, the Dicksonii and the Variegata. This variegated species is highly valued for its ability to brighten up a garden’s darkest corners. In addition, it retains its winter foliage very well. There are also other Elaeagnus varieties that have silvery leaves, such as the Silver Lining, The Hague, the Multiflora and the Angustifolia. They capture the sunlight splendidly. Elaeagnus blooms mainly in summer and, depending on the species, flowering may last until December. It produces beautiful white or cream-coloured flowers which are very fragrant. An Elaeagnus can easily reach a height of 20 to 23 feet and it perfectly bears its size. Often grown for adorning hedges or flower beds, Elaeagnus can also be planted in pots.

Planting Elaeagnus 

The best time period to plant or repot Elaeagnus is in spring or autumn. Elaeagnus is not a very difficult plant to grow. It likes well-drained, fertile, sandy and deep soils. In regard to deciduous species, it is better to grow them on dry, depleted ground. But you can, for example, also plant Angustifolia on stony or arid soil without any problem. Elaeagnus does not fear drought, pollution, or excessively salty soils. However, if planted on overly calcareous ground, the leaves may suffer chlorophyll deficiencies, which will result in their premature yellowing. If you are considering planting a deciduous Elaeagnus, it is advisable to choose a location where it will receive plenty of sun. Regarding perennial species, especially those with variegated leaves, it is more reasonable and advisable to put them in partial shade. Elaeagnus species with green foliage withstand heavy shade relatively well, but in the long run they may lose their vitality. You will not have any need to worry about the location of your plant because Elaeagnus is very hardy. It fears neither strong winds nor spindrift. Elaeagnus is a hardy plant, highly resistant to cold and frost, provided that it is planted in well-drained soils. Some species can withstand temperatures as low as 5 ° F.

If you want to put the seedlings in containers or pots, choose preferably large-sized pots to allow the roots to breathe easily. You can plant them at any time of the year. Normally, after the first years of potting, it is recommended that you cut down the shoots to about 1 / 3 of their length to encourage branching of the plant. For the planting of several Elaeagnus seedlings, it is recommended to keep a minimal, varying distance between them. For perennial species, make sure that a space of 3 to 5 feet is kept between each plant while, for Angustifolia, that distance will need to be 6.5 to 10 feet. But should you want to plant an Elaeagnus hedge, leave a space of 2.5 feet between each plant.

The proliferation of Elaeagnus 

If you want to sow, spring is the ideal time. You can sow mature seeds that you preserved under a cold frame after they have been kept in the cool for at least 3 months in moist sand at a temperature of about 39 ° F. If you use stratified seeds, you can start sowing as early as March, just after having subjected the seeds to a long winter rest. As for the taking of cuttings, the best time period is usually in summer, from July to September, for semi-woody cuttings of perennial species. For deciduous species, it is preferable to take cuttings from July to August, or in mid-August. And propagation by herbaceous cuttings is normally carried out in May or June. You can also opt for root cuttings; the taking of cuttings will be performed with the help of hormones in a sheltered area. You can also separate the root-suckers if you wish so.

Maintaining your Elaeagnus 

Elaeagnus is a very independent plant that does not require any particular care apart from pruning from time to time. In winter, you can prune to stimulate branching. You can also add a supply of fertilizer in the spring. It is recommended to remove excess shoots from deciduous species. In regard to perennial species, they can maintain a nice shape throughout the year. If the need arises, you can do heavy pruning between February and March. Elaeagnus reacts very well to pruning. The shrubs are vigorous and regrow rapidly. It is for this reason that they are also grown as hedges. You can cut them at will. By performing a regular pruning of the hedges, you will have a denser bush.

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Published in Flowering shrubs by Alexander on 04 Jul 2011