Growing Excellent Cleyera Shrubs
Thanks to the excellent foliage color and neat rounded shape that needs little pruning, cleyera shrubs have become a southern garden standard. Reaching 8 to 10 feet tall with a 6-foot spread, cleyera shrubs makes an assertive addition to the yard. It is clad in dense masses of glossy, evergreen leaves, which change color from red to green during the growing season. Tiny white flowers emerge in spring and are replaced by 1-inch-long oval berries. Cultivars, such as Bronze Beauty (Cleyera japonica “Conthery”) differ slightly in appearance, producing bronze-colored new foliage that matures to solid green. Its dimensions are roughly the same as standard cleyera shrubs, but it is slightly more cold-tolerant and will grow in USDA zones 7 through 10. Cleyera’s dense, upright growth habit make it a good choice for hedging, but it also works well as a stand-alone specimen plant due to its attractive vase shape and showy foliage.
Because it responds well to pruning, a cleyera shrub can also be pruned into a standard or a multitrunked tree to show its graceful structure. Cleyera shrubs used for a hedge or screen should be planted 3 to 6 feet apart on a staggered line to maximize their foliage coverage while allowing them plenty of room to spread their roots. Those pruned into a tree form should be planted well away from driveways and streets because their low-growing canopies may catch on or block taller vehicles.