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How to Care for Eucryphia
Care and Cultivation
All Eucryphias require ericaceous or acidic soil except E. cordifolia and, to a lesser extent E. nymanensis ‘Nymansay’, which will tolerate some degree of chalkiness in the soil.
Eucryphias all make small or medium sized trees (except perhaps E. milliganii) and they therefore require space in the woodland garden and full sun rather than shade for the best flowering effect.
Eucryphias thrive in temperate rain forests so they do best when nestled in among other plants with their roots in moist conditions. As they grow together the Eucryphias will end up dominating but, in their own little microclimates, they will have protection from wind and cold. Cool and moist soil conditions rather than hot dry banks. Our Eucryphias do best where their roots end up in the shade.
When Eucryphias were first introduced to the UK 150 or so years ago they were thought to be tender plants for the conservatory at Kew. We now know from experience that most Eucryphias are perfectly hardy in Southern England and that the best Eucryphia of all, E. nymanensis ‘Nymansay’ will survive (given shelter) in the majority of the gardens in the UK.
As tall growing evergreen trees many Eucryphias are susceptible to having their weighty branches snapped off in strong winds. This is especially true of E. cordifolia. However adaptable Eucryphias are to windy conditions – and they do grow in far more stunted a fashion near the Cornish coast – nestling them in with other plants for wind protection is a sensible approach. If the mature plants blow over simply cut off the stems and push the stump back into its hole. We have found that the plants quickly re-shoot.
Beyond that Eucryphias are trouble free. There are no particular pests or diseases to which they are prone in UK conditions.
Where different species of Eucryphia have been grown together it is advisable to propagate by cuttings rather than from seed. You may be in for a surprise and might even grow a seedling with new and unique characteristics which would be worthy of a name. However this is unlikely and most species have already been crossed intentionally or from chance cross pollination to produce the hybrids we already know about from which the best seedlings (e.g. Penwith) have already been selected.
Propagation from cuttings to ensure purity is the quickest and simplest solution. Eucryphia cuttings are best taken as fairly soft new growth from younger plants in say July before they flower. The more mature the mother plant the less easy the cuttings are to root. Ideally cuttings can be taken from young plants in containers where they will root even more quickly.
Eucryphia seeds are contained in a leathery or woody capsule which normally take 12 months to mature. If you examine a Eucryphia closely after flowering you will see newer whitish capsules forming in the current year and, exploring further down the stem, you may well find brown or blacker capsules from the year before.
The seed can be stored over winter in a dry form and sown in a conventional manner in the spring. In Southern Irish gardens Eucryphias self sow themselves on drier banks but we have not experienced this in Cornwall.
Further reading on the Caerhays website, a lecture about Eucryphias by Charles Williams, Burncoose Nurseries.