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Enkianthus - Care Guide
Care & Cultivation
Enkianthus grow best in full sun. Certainly they flower better in full sun and produce better autumn colour in sun than partial shade.
Enkianthus are ericaceous plants which prefer acidic soils which are reasonably well drained. They will tolerate a degree of drought but this may lead to browning on the edges of the leaves.
At Caerhays we grow them mainly on a sunny bank where the drainage is good but there are other specimens growing well in wetter locations along the drive.
Enkianthus do not mind wind exposure (although this can blow away their autumn colour) and tolerate even our most severe English winters with no difficulty as you would expect from the altitude they come from. In the US E. campanulatus has survived minus 28°-30°C without bark split.
E. cernuus is perhaps not quite as hardy as E. campanulatus or E. perulatus according to the reference books but that need not bother plantsmen here.
The genus does not suffer from any serious pests and diseases in the way that rhododendrons do. In the US Enkianthus have been found to be deer resistant.
So an easy plant to grow!
Many plants which are uncommon in cultivation (undeservedly so in the case of Enkianthus) are often, usually even, difficult to propagate. This is not the case with this genus which is another major plus.
Enkianthus produce good quantities of beige seed capsules even on young plants. The seed is normally ready for collection in late September or October and is not sought after by squirrels. Each capsule has 3-5 seeds.
They require no special pre germination treatment in the fridge and can be sown at once or, preferably, stored dry and sown in early spring.
The seeds can be surface sown on a free draining compost or milled moss. See our seed storing & care article here for more details.
Cuttings are reasonably easy but only if taken in late spring or early summer (i.e. fairly soft new growth). It is best to leave the rooted cuttings undisturbed through the first winter in cell trays or a cold frame. They can then be potted before they resume growth in the spring rather than in the autumn.
Enkianthus - why should they be more widely grown? - RHS lecture notes from Caerhays Estate.