Of the approximately 40 escallonia (Escallonia spp.) shrubs and trees native to South America, 30 grow in Chile. These ornamental plants thrive in heat. Their high wind resistance and salt spray tolerance make Escallonia shrubs ideal choices for coastal gardens. These summer-, fall- and winter-blooming plants typically stand from 5 to 8 feet high. Those in full-sun, coastal environments grow larger. While escallonias demand mild winter climates, they tolerate almost any well-drained soil.
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Escallonia virgata, a 9-foot-high, deciduous shrub, grows near water in Chile's coastal mountains and along the Chilean coast. It survives winter temperatures to -12.2 degrees Celsius in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zone 8. It also handles up to two weeks of snow cover. Its ornamental appeal comes from upright stems of glossy, green leaves and dense clusters of green-centred, white blooms. Red escallonia (E. rubra), another Chilean native, grows up to 6 feet high. Hardy to minus 10 degrees Fahrenheit, it tolerates months of snow cover. This dense, shrubby plant has cascading, tubular, green-centred red blooms and alternating, lancelike green leaves. It figures prominently in the pedigrees of most Escallonia hybrids.
The Pink Princess (Escallonia x exoniensis Fradesii) evergreen escallonia cultivar pairs deep pink, midsummer blooms with pleasantly aromatic, glossy deep green foliage. Pink Princess, at 5 to 6 feet high and up to 8 feet wide, makes an appealing, hummingbird-attracting shrub or foundation plant. It performs best in sandy or loamy soils and full or partial sun. Apple Blossom, an evergreen Langley (Escallonia x langleyensis) cultivar, has a sprawling habit and dense, small green leaves. Its pale pink flowers bloom abundantly in spring and in light flushes over the summer. Tolerant of heavy shearing, Apple Blossom offers an alternative to boxwood hedges in sunny coastal gardens.
Escallonia pruning techniques vary according to the plants' heights. Pruning smaller shrubs is a simple matter of pinching back their tips to maintain their compact forms. Taller escallonias benefit from having the top one-third of their old wood when they finish blooming each year. They also survive pruning back to their bases.
Escallonia dieback, a disease of unidentified origins, results in wilting, yellowing or browning leaves on Escallonia Fradesii cultivars. Severe infestations of this disease kill branches, and sometimes, entire plants. Providing these shrubs with the proper environment and care prevents this disease. No effective treatment currently exists.
Chinese wax scales -- soft-bodied insects-- attach themselves to an escallonia's leaves or bark and consume the plant's fluids. Large populations of the scales may slow the plant's growth or cause wilting and leaf yellowing. One sign of a scale infestation is a clear, sticky substance covering the plants. The scales release this "honeydew" as a waste product. Thoroughly spraying shrubs with horticultural oil in late spring or summer suffocates the pests.
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