The genus Eucryphia, which comes from the Cunoniaceae family, can be either evergreen or deciduous.
These shrubs and trees boast simple or pinnate leaves and single bowl-shaped white flowers, which sit in the leaf axils and bloom in the summer and autumn months.
One of the most prevalent Eucryphia plants is the E. milliganii species, a willowy, columnar evergreen shrub that grows up to six meters in height, and boasts sticky buds and modest, oblong, rich dark green leaves, which grow between 1.5cm and 2cm in length.
This species also features scented white flowers, which measure between 2cm and 2.5cm – these blooms really come to life in midsummer.
Eucryphia is native to coastal parts of eastern Australia and the south temperate regions of South America. There are an astounding seven species available; five in Australia and two in South America.
In addition to this, there are several named hybrids. The majority are evergreen, while one species is usually deciduous.
These species are energetic, ornamental shrubs that thrive in moist soil – preferably not alkaline. For best results, it’s important to shelter them from harsh, cold winds.
This is particularly the case when growing taller evergreen varieties, including the likes of ‘Nymansay’, as this species can lose its leaves when placed in a cool environment.
The flowers can grow to 5cm in length and are a bright, white shade with a projecting center of yellow stamens.
Each commonly features four petals and numerous styles, in addition to the bright stamens.
How to grow Eucryphia
When growing Eucryphia, it’s important to pick a sheltered position, away from cold, drying winds and full sunlight.
This plant thrives in fertile, moist, humus-rich soil, which is neutral or acidic.
These species of plants can be propagated by seed. For best results, they should be sown in the late winter in a cold frame, as soon as they are ripe.
Semi-ripe cuttings can be sown in the summer months and young plants overwinter in a cool greenhouse.
All Eucryphias necessitate ericaceous or acidic soil except the E. cordifoliavariant and sometimes, the E. nymanensis ‘Nymansay’ specie, which is able to withstand some degree of chalkiness in the soil.
When planting Eucryphia, pick spots in the garden that are sheltered by the likes of hedging and screens, such as wall-side borders.
These species are an ideal option for those looking for a low-maintenance plant for city and courtyard gardens, cottage and informal gardens, and even coastal gardens.
How to care for Eucryphia
Although these plants require pruning every now and again, they are extremely low maintenance and are generally pest and disease-free.
Pruning should be carried out in mid to late spring if required and should be done to keep the plants manageable – beyond this, little or no pruning is needed.
Where to plant Eucryphia
These species come in the shape of small or medium-sized trees (except certain variants, such as E. milliganii, which can grow to be larger in size).
They, therefore, thrive in woodland gardens offering plenty of space and full sunlight, rather than shady areas with little sunlight. The sunlight will ultimately encourage them to bloom.
For best results, plant Eucryphias alongside other plants, allowing their roots access to moist conditions. It’s important to note, that once fully grown, the Eucryphias will end up dominating the area you have chosen to plant them in.
Opt for environments with cool and moist soil rather than hot dry soil, as Eucryphias tend to thrive best when their roots are in the shade.
Initially, Eucryphias were thought to be delicate plants only suited to indoor areas and conservatories. However, it was later discovered that these plants are hardier in nature and can grow well in Southern England.
In fact, certain species such as E. nymanensis ‘Nymansay’ is able to withstand temperatures and conditions in the majority of the UK gardens, providing you place them in a spot that offers plenty of shelters.
This is because tall growing evergreen trees are prone to having their weighty branches snapped when strong winds strike.
If you live in a windy environment, choose the species wisely. For example, E. cordifolia is very susceptible to breaking branches in strong winds, whilst other types can withstand harsher conditions.
With this in mind, they do tend to adapt by growing in a more stunted fashion. For best results, place them near other plants, as this will provide protection against the wind.
If you do find that the mature plants blow over, cut back the stems and push the stump back into the ground. Eucryphias are renowned for being speedy re-shooters.
It is recommended you propagate Eucryphia from cuttings rather than from seed, especially when different species have been grown together.
It’s often unknown as to what you may produce in the new batch if you opt to propagate from seeds in this manner.
Instead, and to ensure purity and a speedy process, propagate from cuttings. For best results, use fairly soft new growth from younger plants. The best month to take cuttings is in July, as this is before Eucryphia plants begin to bloom.
The more mature the mother plant, the harder it becomes to root. For an even quicker process, choose cuttings from young plants in containers.
Eucryphia seeds come encased in a leather-like, woody capsule, which typically takes 12 months to mature. If you inspect a Eucryphia closely after bloom, you will see fresh white capsules forming in the current year down the stem.
It’s not uncommon to also see brown or black capsules, which will have been left from the previous year.
The seed can be stored over the winter months in a dry location, and sown in the spring. In certain climates, such as in Southern Ireland, Eucryphias plants are able to self-sow themselves. This tends to take place on drier banks.
There are a number of variants to choose from, meaning there is a Eucryphia plant to suit all gardens and a variety of growing conditions.
We’ve listed some of the more popular species below:
- EUCRYPHIA: Genus of seven typically evergreen trees and shrubs, native to Chile and Australia. They thrive best when their roots are shaded and their crown is in full sunlight.
- EUCRYPHIA glutinosa: The hardiest of all the eucryphias, this large deciduous shrub boasts oversized white flowers with prominent stamens and orange and red leaves.
- EUCRYPHIA lucida: This species produces fragrant white flowers that measure 4cm in height.
- EUCRYPHIA milliganii: This variant boasts a slender, upright style, brandishing small cup-shaped, white flowers, which bloom in midsummer
- EUCRYPHIA moorei: This is one of the rarer species, and is embellished with pinnate leaves brandishing up to 13 leaflets. The smallish white flowers can last a great deal longer than those featured on other species.
- EUCRYPHIA x intermedia ‘Rostrevor’: This plant offers rich, green foliage with white flowers.
- EUCRYPHIA x nymansensis ‘Nymans Silver’: A great option for a light, woodland setting and particularly beneficial to gardens that attract plenty of wildlife.
These plant species are a great addition to an array of gardens, locations, and settings.
If you choose the right specie for the location you intend to place it in, you’ll enjoy an abundance of picture-perfect blooms and a long-lasting plant – guaranteed to brighten up even the subtlest of gardens.
The key is to do your research prior to planting eucryphia to ensure that your outdoor space is suitable for the species you choose.
If you’re unsure of which option to pick, seek advice from your local garden center or nursery, as they should have some knowledge of what thrives in your particular area.
Start growing some plants. Should you prefer flowers or plants, garden centers, and online florists have an abundance of choice, many of which offer same and next-day flower delivery.
Sources: telegraph.co.uk, rhs.org.uk, burncoose.co.uk