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Distylium: The Versatile and Hardy Landscape Shrub


When it comes to choosing the right plants for your outdoor space, there are plenty of options to consider. However, not all plants are created equal in terms of durability, versatility, and aesthetic appeal. One plant that ticks all these boxes is distylium.

In this blog post, we'll explore everything you need to know about this hardy landscape shrub, from its characteristics and growing requirements to its benefits and uses.

About Distylium

What is Distylium?

Distylium is a genus of evergreen shrubs that belong to the Hamamelidaceae family. This plant is native to East Asia, particularly Japan and China, and was introduced to the US in the early 1900s. There are around 12 species of distylium, which vary in size, habit, and leaf shape.

Characteristics of Distylium

Distylium is an attractive and versatile shrub that can enhance any landscape design. Here are some of its key features:

  • Evergreen foliage: Distylium has lustrous, dark green leaves that retain their color throughout the year.
  • Dense habit: This plant has a dense, bushy growth habit that makes it ideal for hedging, screening, or mass planting.
  • Tolerant of various conditions: Distylium can grow in a range of soil types and pH levels, as well as tolerate drought, heat, and cold.
  • Low maintenance: Distylium is a hardy shrub that requires minimal pruning and fertilization, making it a low-maintenance option for busy gardeners.

Growing Distylium

If you're interested in adding distylium to your landscape, here are some tips on how to grow and care for this plant:

Site selection:

Distylium prefers full sun to partial shade and well-draining soil. It can tolerate a range of pH levels but prefers slightly acidic to neutral soil.


Plant distylium in early spring or fall, spacing the shrubs 3 to 5 feet apart for a hedge or 6 to 8 feet apart for individual plants. Water the shrubs regularly during the first growing season to establish root growth.


Distylium is a low-maintenance plant that requires little care once established. Prune the shrubs in late winter or early spring to maintain their shape and remove any dead or damaged branches. Fertilize with a slow-release fertilizer in early spring if desired.

Benefits of Distylium

Drought Tolerance

One of the most significant benefits of distylium is its tolerance for drought conditions. This makes it an ideal choice for areas that experience hot and dry summers, as well as for homeowners who want to conserve water.

Pest and Disease Resistance

Another advantage of distylium is its resistance to pests and diseases. Unlike many other landscape plants, distylium is not susceptible to common issues like spider mites, scale insects, or fungal infections. This means less time and money spent on controlling pests and more time enjoying your garden.

Design Versatility

Distylium's dense habit and evergreen foliage make it a versatile plant for landscape design. It can be used as a hedge, screen, specimen plant, or mass planting, depending on your needs and preferences. Additionally, its glossy leaves and compact growth habit make it an excellent complement to other plants in mixed borders or foundation plantings.

Uses of Distylium

Hedge Plants

Distylium is an excellent choice for creating a hedge due to its dense growth habit and tolerance for pruning. You can use it to define your property line, create privacy, or block out noise and wind. Its evergreen foliage also ensures that your hedge will look great year-round.

Foundation Planting

Distylium makes an ideal choice for foundation planting due to its compact size and neat appearance. You can plant it along the front of your house to add curb appeal and enhance the overall design of your property.

Mass Planting

If you want to create a uniform look in your landscape, consider using distylium for mass planting. This can be especially effective in larger properties where you want to cover a lot of ground quickly and easily.

FAQs About Distylium

Q1: Is distylium deer-resistant?

A1: Yes, distylium is generally considered to be deer-resistant due to its leathery leaves and spiny branches. However, hungry deer may still nibble on young shoots or foliage during severe food shortages.

Q2: How fast does distylium grow?

A2: Distylium is a slow-growing shrub that typically grows 6 to 12 inches per year. However, once established, it can reach a height of 6 to 12 feet and a spread of up to 8 feet.

Q3: Can I grow distylium in a container?

A3: Yes, you can grow distylium in a container as long as the container is large enough to accommodate the plant's root system. Use a well-draining potting mix and water the plant regularly to prevent drying out.

Q4: Does distylium require fertilization?

A4: Distylium is a low-maintenance plant that does not require frequent fertilization. However, you can apply a slow-release fertilizer in early spring if desired to promote healthy growth.

Q5: Is distylium susceptible to any diseases or pests?

A5: Distylium is generally resistant to pests and diseases. However, it may be susceptible to root rot or other fungal infections if grown in poorly draining soil or overwatered.

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