Elaeagnus is sometimes underrated. It’s certainly not a showy shrub, although the foliage is often attractively variegated. 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. Elaeagnus are good structural plants, in particular the evergreen varieties, and they work well as a hedging choice. But one of their biggest selling points is that they are very salt tolerant, so make a reliable choice for coastal gardens.
Where to grow eleagnus
Elaeagnus grow best in full sun and well-drained soil. They are tough plants and can cope with a range of soil types, including dry soil. They work well as a hedge or planted near a bench where the scented flowers can be appreciated.
How to plant eleagnus
Plant elaeagnus in autumn if buying bare-root plants or at any time if pot grown.
How to propagate eleagnus
Propagate elaeagnus by taking semi-ripe cuttings in summer.
Growing eleagnus: 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.
How to care for eleagnus
Elaeagnus are relatively easy to care for. To maintain the desired shape, cut back after flowering and mulch annually with compost.
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 parviflora – a deciduous shrub or small tree, with silvery foliage and scented, cream flowers, appearing from April to May, followed by red, edible berries.
- 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.
- Elaeagnus macrophylla – an evergreen shrub, with young, silvery leaves that turn dark green and typically fragrant flowers in autumn, followed by edible fruits in late spring.