Elaeagnus x ebbingei

Photo from Wiki Commons © by Jean Jacques Milan

My main use for this shrub is using it where nothing else will survive, or when everything I try just limps along, not quite dying, but certainly not thriving. I plant an Elaeagnus and it just bolts away forming a strong healthy plant and making that frustrating ‘failure to thrive’ area just disappear. Particularly useful in planting under established trees, where everything tried just struggles.

This would have to be one of the toughest garden plants in the world:

  • Tolerates sandy soils to heavy clay
  • Grows in dense shade to full sun
  • Fine in poor under nourished soils
  • Tolerates moist to dry soils
  • Strong salt winds don’t worry it
  • Frost hardy to -20C
  • Strong vigorous growth
  • Tolerant of regular trimming
  • Can be planted under mature trees and will establish.
  • Fixes atmospheric nitrogen (via bacteria in root nodules)
  • Gorgeous strong scent

Photo from Wiki Commons © by Stan Shebs

E. x ebbingei is an evergreen shrub growing perhaps 3.5 metres high and eventually 3.5m wide. It is very tolerant of pruning however, and can be easily kept much smaller. With determination it is possible to produce a hedge 1.5 metres tall and only 45cm wide, however allowing a 1 metre width would be easier. Plants can be a little slow to establish in their first year as they spread out their root system, but then settle down and can make new growth of 75cm or more in a year.

Photo from Wiki Commons © by Eigenes Werk

Beautifully scented white flowers appear in autumn, followed by edible fruits. The fruits are very pleasant when fully ripe, around 2cm long. Fruiting is variable – some plants don’t fruit, others fruit heavily. It is possible the plants only fruit well under stress.

Gilt Edge: This cultivar has bright yellow streaking in the leaves.

Photo from Wiki Commons © by Kenpai