Cleyera shrubs are primarily grown for their beautiful glossy foliage, although the tiny white fragrant flowers and fall berries certainly are appealing as well. Several species start out with new growth in a bronze or burgundy color and then deepen to a dark lustrous green color, such as with Bronze Beauty and LeAnn Cleyera, or have variegated foliage like Romeo Cleyera with its deep green leaf with a silky cream border that matures to a rosy variegated leaf in the winter. The leaves are typically oval, glossy and whirl attractively at the end of strong reddish stems creating a more open rounded appearance.
These are heat loving, drought tolerant plants and are generally disease resistant, making them the perfect low maintenance shrub for your landscape. They are native to China and Japan, but have generally become naturalized throughout the southern region of the United States. Cleyera are related to the Japanese Camellia and share the evergreen glossy leaf characteristic that camellias are appreciated. They do not like freezing temperatures and may suffer from prolonged cold spells.
The Best Way to Use Cleyera
Cleyera are prized for their upright tall growth habit as well as their unusually dark green glossy foliage. They make a wonderful foundation plant in between windows on a larger home, as they grow taller than they grow wide. The evergreen leaves and the winter interest berries make it an attractive landscape plant. When used as a privacy hedge or windscreen, space the plants 4 to 6 feet apart. When utilizing them with other shrubs give them 5 to 7 feet of space and offset them for an attractive display.
Cleyera appreciate a full sun location and will tolerate partial shade, especially in the hottest summer regions. They need well draining slightly acidic soil and will not tolerate heavy clay or other poorly draining soils. Keep moist by applying a fine bark mulch around the root zone and water during extended dry periods. Perhaps the best use of Cleyera are as windbreaks or privacy screens as their evergreen color and fall to winter berries will provide plenty of privacy and food for wildlife.
Evergreen, attractive foliage
Small creamy white fragrant flowers
Winter interest with berries for wildlife
Heat and drought resistant
Landscaping Tip: Cleyera are a versatile landscape shrub that lends itself to planting in full sun or in partial shade, giving you many options for placement and for companion plants.
Cleyera Companion Plants
Cleyera can function as a full sun or partial shade inhabitant, giving you a wide range of companion plants to pair it with. Many acid loving shrubs are also full sun or partial shade and combining them together brings an added dimension to your landscape.