Although they are not particularly showy, Elaeagnus shrubs make attractive specimen plants and effective, low-key borders. Dense and bushy, the leaves of this hardy shrub are olive green with silver-flecked undersides, adding a pretty two-tone effect to the yard on windy days. Available in over 50 varieties, the shrub can be easily grown throughout the United States.
The beautiful, lance-shaped, green and silver leaves of the typical Elaeagnus shrub add light and brightness to the landscape. In addition to eye-catching foliage, these robust shrubs bear clusters of sweetly fragrant, pale yellow or bright white flowers each spring. The blossoms are followed by the development of colorful, sweet berries, creating a showy display on the thorny stems. While the ability to add color and visual interest to the yard for several seasons is an asset, many people value Elaeagnus shrubs for their ability to thrive in poor soils and less-than-ideal climates.
Displaying an upright, spreading growth habit, the average Elaeagnus forms a compact mound of shrubbery up to 20 feet tall and wide. Set close together, the bushy branches form an impenetrable wall of thick foliage, creating an effective windbreak, barrier or privacy screen. Spread randomly throughout the yard, this low-maintenance shrub draws the eye with its distinct multicolored leaves while providing a subtle backdrop for more vividly colored plants. In addition, the thorny branches of the Elaeagnus offer local birds a well-protected nesting site.
Able to survive exposure to high winds, sandy soils, dry climates and salt-laden moisture, the Elaeagnus thrives under the most adverse conditions with very little attention. Simply plant the fast-growing shrub in a sunny location and add water whenever the surrounding soil feels dry to the touch. They maintain their shape naturally and do not require annual pruning or routine applications of fertilizer.
The Elaeagnus shrub naturally increases the amount of nitrogen in the surrounding soil. While this ability makes them an ideal landscaping choice for nitrogen-poor areas, it alters the natural habitat, interfering with native plants. Elaeagnus shrubs should not be planted in wild areas or near unmonitored natural regions, as these robust, self-sowing shrubs can easily become a weed problem.
- Floridata; Elaeagnus Pungens; Steve Christman; March 2008
- North Carolina State University Extension; Shrubs: Elaeagnus Angustifolia; Erv Evans
- "New Complete Gardener"; Susan A. Roth; 1997