Griselinia - Care Guide

Maintaining variegation on Griselinia

Griselinia are one of the most popular evergreen windbreak plants in milder UK gardens. They originate from New Zealand and Chile and their handsome, evergreen, leathery leaves form a dense upright mat of foliage which provides shelter for gardens in exposed, windswept or coastal locations. These plants are very tolerant of salt laden winds and will readily withstand temperatures of -10°C. During the ‘Beast from the East’ in March 2018 the shelter belts at Burncoose suffered some defoliation from the east wind (as did laurels) but they did their job in filtering the extreme cold winds to protect the more choice plants growing in their lee.

G. littoralis grows up to 25ft in height and is the species most commonly used for wind protection. It is also tolerant of polluted atmospheres and grows well in cities and industrial estates. In southern Ireland, where rainfall levels are higher even than ours in Cornwall, G. littoralis can grow even taller. However this plant enjoys being cut and pruned into shape to maintain it at ‘hedge height’ or beside a path. It will readily reshoot and thicken out.

G. littoralis has inconspicuous yellow-green flowers in late spring. However, if you prefer more attractive and interesting foliage, there are Griselinia hybrids which can provide this. G. littoralis ‘Variegata’ has irregularly margined creamy white and streaked grey-green leaves. This plant is less vigorous and grows, as a hedge, to about 10ft. G. littoralis “Dixon’s Cream” grows to much the same size and has creamy white centres to its leaves. G. littoralis ‘Bantry Bay’ originates from Garnish Island near Cork in Eire and has irregular splashes of pale cream in the centres of its leaves. As a further contrasting leaf formation G. littoralis ‘Crinkles’ is a smaller growing bushy shrub with wavy leaf edges. 

More recently Burncoose has made available the much rarer Griselinia ruscifolia from Chile which has small leathery dark green leaves and an upright habit.

Griselinia propagate and root easily from semi ripe cuttings in midsummer or from hardwood cuttings taken in autumn and set in the cold frame. Unlike young laurels which can be attractive to rabbits Griselinia seem much less so.


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