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How to grow elaeagnus

How to grow elaeagnus

Find out how to grow salt-tolerant elaeagnus, in our detailed Grow Guide.

A table displaying which months are best to sow, plant and harvest.
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec

Do not Plant in January

Do not Plant in February

Do not Plant in March

Do not Plant in April

Do not Plant in May

Do not Plant in June

Do not Plant in July

Do not Plant in August

Do not Plant in September

Do Plant in October

Do Plant in November

Do Plant in December


Plant does not flower in January

Plant does not flower in February

Plant does not flower in March

Plant does flower in April

Plant does flower in May

Plant does flower in June

Plant does flower in July

Plant does flower in August

Plant does flower in September

Plant does not flower in October

Plant does not flower in November

Plant does not flower in December

Elaeagnus is sometimes underrated. It’s certainly not a showy shrub, although the foliage is often attractively variegated, making it the perfect foil for other garden plants. The flowers are hard to spot, but they are beautifully scented and will definitely turn your head as you look for the source of the heady aroma as you walk past.


Elaeagnus are also known by the common names thorny olive, spiny oleaster and silverthorn. They’re native to Asia.

Elaeagnus make good structural plants, particularly the evergreen varieties, and they work well as hedging. But one of their biggest selling points is that they’re salt tolerant, making them a reliable choice for coastal gardens.

How to grow elaeagnus

Grow elaeagnus in well-drained soil, in full sun. Cut back after flowering and mulch annually, in autumn.

Where to grow elaeagnus

How to grow eleagnus - where to grow eleagnus
Where to grow elaeagnus

Elaeagnus grow best in full sun and well-drained soil. They’re tough plants and can cope with a range of soil types, including dry soil. They work well as a hedge or shrub, in front of which you can grow more colourful plants. Or plant one near a bench or seating area so you can appreciate its fragrant blooms.

How to plant elaeagnus

Plant elaeagnus in autumn if buying bare-root plants or at any time if pot grown. Ensure the plant sits in the soil at the same depth it was previously – look for a soil ‘tide mark’ on its stem. Firm the soil around the roots and water thoroughly.

How to propagate elaeagnus

Propagate elaeagnus by taking semi-ripe cuttings in summer. Semi-ripe cuttings are made using the current year’s stems, when they are woody at the base and soft at the tip. Cut them down to a around 5cm and remove the lower leaves, then push them into a pot of gritty, yet moist compost. Cover the pot with clear polythene or place it in a propagator to maintain humidity levels. Pot on each young plant as soon as you spot signs of growth.

Growing elaeagnus: problem solving

Elaeagnus is generally pest free but can be affected by coral spot or fungal leaf spot. However, look out for the sap-sucking elaeagnus sucker that will leave sooty mould on the leaves – try to pick off the affected leaves before it becomes a problem.

How to care for elaeagnus

Elaeagnus are relatively easy to care for and don’t need regular pruning. However, to maintain a particular shape, cut your elaeagnus back after flowering, using shears or secateurs. Mulch annually with compost.

Advice on buying elaeagnus

  • Elaeagnus is available from a wide range of garden centres and nurseries, but you’ll find greater choice at specialist retailers, and online
  • Always check plants for signs of damage or disease before buying or planting

Where to buy elaeagnus

Elaeagnus varieties to try

How to grow eleagnus - eleagnus varieties to try
Elaeagnus varieties to try

Elaeagnus ‘Quicksilver’ – a large, deciduous shrub with silvery leaves. It flowers in the summer, but these are hard to spot, although they have a strong, distinctive sweet fragrance.

Elaeagnus pungens ‘Maculata’ – this large, evergreen cultivar has golden leaves with large, irregular green margins. It makes a good hedge or screening plant and the foliage looks good for winter floral arrangements.

Elaeagnus x ebbingei ‘Gilt Edge’ – an evergreen cultivar with attractive green and gold foliage. Much later flowering, the tiny, intensely scented flowers appear in October, followed by red berries. The Royal Horticultural Society has given it its prestigious Award of Garden Merit (AGM).

Elaeagnus umbellata – this is a large deciduous variety with silvery foliage and small, fragrant flowers in late spring, followed by red fruits.