How to plant escallonia

Escallonia is an evergreen shrub when planted in mild zones, but a semi-evergreen elsewhere. Depending upon the varieties, it grows 6 to 10 feet tall. Its arching shoots of small, dark glossy leaves are covered with sprays of flower clusters in white, pink or red. A long-lived shrub, it is a good choice for a hedge.

It is hardy to USDA zones 8 and 9.

Select the site for the escallonia. This shrub will tolerate light shade, but flowers best in full sun. If planted in a northern garden, plant against a south-facing wall. Escallonia does well in any soil, as long as it is well drained.

Prepare the planting site. Till up the soil and remove weeds, rocks and other garden debris. Provide aeration to the heavy clay soils by working in grit or gravel. If the soil is sandy, work in generous amounts of compost or decayed manure several weeks before planting.

Plant escallonia in June to September. Dig a hole that is larger than the shrub's container. Remove the plant from the container, being careful not to damage the root ball. Place it in the hole, fill the hole half full with soil and water to settle the soil around the root ball. Finish filling the hole with soil and tamp down gently to remove air bubbles. Water again. Space escallonia 6 to 8 feet apart.

Water the escallonia daily until it is established in the garden and new growth emerges. Continue to water regularly, especially during drought, but do not over water. Help the soil retain moisture by spreading a layer of mulch under the shrub. Feed the shrub with bone meal in the spring and fall. The leaves are susceptible to silver leaf; the leaves will become ashy colour and might curl. Cut these shoots back until healthy, white wood is seen at least 6 inches beyond the infection.

Watch for the escallonia to bloom beginning in June and continuing through September. After the shrub has grown one season, shorten 1/3 of the oldest stems to ground level. In northern gardens, cut back any frost damaged growth in late spring.