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Edgeworthia Chrysantha - Red Dragon - The Paper Bush.

There are two Edgeworthia worthy of mention for UK or suitable similar zoned gardens. Edgeworthia chrysantha which has several other common names attached to it, and its offspring - Edgeworthia chrysantha 'Red Dragon'.

Other than flower colour, they have similar growth and requirements, though I see from close observation - by way if taking close-up photos - that maybe the 'Red Dragon' is slightly less vigorous - and more compact. Both types have fragrant flowers - more so in the early morning or late afternoon.

Edgeworthia chrysantha itself has flowers that start white in bud, but open to rich golden yellow. There have been several names - such as Golden Dawn, Winter Gold etc attached to it by various nurseries, but I see no difference whatever to the main form of Edgeworthia chrysantha! Take it from me, that the basic form is as gold as any of the others, and has more or less the same growth habits and requirements. (Maybe I am a natural cynic!)

Edgeworthia chrysantha - The Paper Bush.Winter Flowering

Edgeworthia are well entitled to be described as winter-flowering shrubs, though not often grown in private gardens. Maybe you can be the first in your area to reverse this situation, for if other gardeners see it, they are sure to want it in their own garden. They flower for several months through the winter, and are always center of attraction where they are grown.

They are best grown in a woodland or sheltered situation, where they are not so prone to the worst of the winter weather - frosts in particular. As with many shrubs and other hardier plants, they tend to get hardier as they mature over a few years. They are also good for growing in full sunlight, but with care as to heavy frosts in spring. Both Edgeworthias will light up the gloom in this type of situation.

The flowers hang a little, but there is plenty to see whilst in bud, and even more as the flowers break into full bloom.

The bark is of papery texture - hence its common name of the Paper Bush. As with many trees and shrubs with this type of bark, there can be damage to the thin tissue on hot, intense sunshine.

Growth Habits and Requirements

Edgeworthia chrysantha Red DragonEdgeworthia are deciduous shrubs, with little foliage other than that which is borne towards the end of its branches. This habit of foliage makes it suitable for being host to lower-growing shrubs or perennials under its sparse canopy.

Ultimate height and spread will be determined by their growing environment, but you should allow for a height and spread of 4-5 feet (1.2 - 1.5m). It is important to get the spacing right, for they do not respond to transplanting as matured shrubs.

Reasonable drought tolerant, as a result of their home environment of woodlands in the drier areas of China through to the Himalayas. That alone should vouch for its potential hardiness in the UK at least.  It is probably the key to long term success, that they should be planted in areas that are not prone to flooding or ground saturation. Most deciduous woodland setting or shrub borders will be suitable, as will a wide range of garden soils.

Propagation of Edgeworthia

Propagation is best by semi ripe cuttings in late summer. Grow on in sheltered gold frame and be prepared for nothing to happen until the following spring. Growing the young plants through the first winter will need protection. Plant out in the following year.

Seed - if it can be obtained - is best sown  in autumn and left to over-winter in a cold frame, with germination strting the following spring. Do NOT over-water the seed container.

Problems with Edgeworthia

Zero - other than the possibility of bark split in very hot exposed positions.

Best Ten Winter Flowering Shrubs | Other flowering plants for January |


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