RHAPHIOLEPIS

FAMILY: Rosaceae

TYPE
  • Evergreen
  • Shrubs
SUN EXPOSURE
  • Full Sun
  • Partial Shade
WATER
  • Regular Water
  • Moderate Water
  • Drought Tolerant
PLANTING ZONES
  • LS (Lower South) / Zone 8
  • CS (Coastal South) / Zone 9
  • TS (Tropical South) / Zone 10
  • TS (Tropical South) / Zone 11

Plant Details

These dependable shrubs are among the best plants for the beach (they tolerate wind and salt spray), but they have many other uses as well. Their glossy, leathery leaves and compact form make them good subjects for foundation plantings, berms, low hedges, and containers. They bloom profusely from fall or midwinter until late spring, with flowers ranging in color from white through pink to nearly red. Berrylike dark blue fruit (not especially showy) follows the blossoms. Emerging leaves are tinged bronze and red.

Most stay low. The taller kinds seldom reach more than 56 ft., and pruning can keep them at 3 ft. almost indefinitely. For bushy, compact plants, pinch back branch tips at least once yearly, after flowering. Tolerate drought; need good drainage. Plants growing in partial shade are less compact and have fewer flowers than those growing in full sun.

R. x delacourii. Pink-flowered hybrid of R. indica and R. umbellata. To 6 ft. tall, 8 ft. wide. Small pink flowers in upright clusters. Leaves are 12 in. long. 'Georgia Petite' grows 2 ft. high, 3 ft. wide, with pink buds opening to white flowers; 'Snowcap' grows 4 ft. tall and wide. Pink buds open to pale pink flowers that fade to white; foliage turns burgundy-red in winter.

R. indica. INDIAN HAWTHORN. Native to China. To 45 ft. high, 56 ft. wide, with 1- to 3-in.-long pointed leaves and -in. flowers in white tinged with pink. The species is seldom seen in gardens, but its selections are widely grown and sold. They differ mainly in flower color and in plant size and form; there is variation even within a selection. Flower color is especially inconsistent: In warmer climates and exposures, blossoms are usually lighter, and in general blooms are paler in fall than in spring. In high-rainfall, high-humidity areas such as Florida and the Gulf Coast, the same fungal leaf spot disease that defoliates photinia can ravage this species. In these regions, choose resistant selections such as 'Eskimo', 'Indian Princess', 'Olivia', 'Rosalinda', 'Snow Pink', and 'Snow White'; avoid susceptible ones like 'Enchantress', 'Fascination', 'Harbinger of Spring', 'Heather', 'Spring Rapture', 'Springtime', and 'White Enchantress'.

Selections include the following.

'Ballerina'. To 2 ft. tall, 4 ft. wide. Deep rosy pink flowers. Leaves take on a reddish tinge in winter.

'Clara'. To 35 ft. tall and wide. White flowers. Red new growth.

'Dancer'. Reaches 4 ft. tall, 5 ft. wide. Pure pink flowers.

'Enchantress' ('Pinkie'). To 3 ft. tall, 5 ft. wide, with rose-pink blooms. 'White Enchantress' has white blossoms.

'Eskimo'. To 6 ft. tall, 8 ft. wide. Highly resistant to leaf spot; hardy to 5F.

'Indian Princess'. Up to 3 ft. high, 5 ft. wide. Light pink flowers. Resists leaf spot.

'Jack Evans'. To 45 ft. high, 4 ft. wide. Bright pink flowers. Leaves sometimes have a purplish tinge.

'Olivia'. To 4 ft. high, 2 ft. wide. Pure white flowers. Resistant to leaf spot.

'Rosalinda'. To 1214 ft. high, 10 ft. wide. Pink flowers. Vigorous, can be trained to a small tree. Good disease resistance.

'Snow Pink'. Compact grower to 3 ft. high and wide. Pink flowers. Resists leaf spot.

'Snow White'. To 34 ft. high, 5 ft. wide. White flowers. Spreading habit. Resistant to leaf spot.

'Spring Rapture'. To 34 ft. high and wide. Rose-red blossoms.

'Spring Sonata'. To 45 ft. tall and wide. White flowers appear two to three weeks later than those of other selections.

'Springtime'. Vigorous, upright; 46 ft. tall and wide. Deep pink flowers.

R. 'Majestic Beauty'. Larger in every detail than the others. Can be trained as a single- or multitrunked tree to 2025 ft. tall, 810 ft. wide; as a shrub, easily kept at 1012 ft. tall, 68 ft. wide. Fragrant light pink flowers in clusters to 10 in. wide. Leaves are 4 in. long. Thought to be a hybrid between Rhaphiolepis and loquat (Eriobotrya).

R. umbellata. YEDDO HAWTHORN. Native to Japan, Korea. Vigorous grower to 46 ft. (sometimes to 10 ft.) high and wide. Distinguished from R. indica by its leathery dark green, 1- to 3-in.-long, roundish leaves. White, about -in.-wide flowers. Thick and bushy in full sun. 'Minor' ('Gulf Green') is a compact, slow-growing form to 34 ft. high and wide.

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