Hybrid distyliums (Distylium myricoides × racemosum) are compact evergreen shrubs for full sun to partial shade USDA hardiness zones 7 to 9. They are heat and drought tolerant, and are not fussy, growing in average soil with subpar drainage.
Distyliums are members of the witchhazel family (Hamamelidaceae). Their tiny reddish-maroon flowers appear in late January through March, but offer little ornamental value in the winter landscape. Current hybrid selections are favored for their compact growth habit, burgundy new foliage color. Annual growth rate averages 8-10 inches. Distyliums serve as alternatives for time-honored evergreen foundation shrubs such as cherry laurels (Prunus laurocerasus), junipers (Juniperus spp.), hollies (Ilex spp.), and boxwoods (Buxus spp.).
Space plants 2 to 4 feet apart (depending on cultivar and intended use in the landscape) as a specimen, low hedge or a groundcover. In early spring feed distyliums with water soluble (Miracle Gro, Peters, Jacks, or Daniels brand names) or granular fertilizers such as generic 10-10-10 or Holly Tone™ are applied according to package recommendations for evergreen shrubs. Distyliums possess exceptional disease and pest resistances.
These four patented cultivars are now offered:
Blue Cascade® features a matte blue-green foliage with a cascading, layered branching; shrub grows 3 feet wide and 4 feet wide.
Emerald Heights® offers dark green, dense glossy foliage on a compact shrub with upright branching; shrub grows 5 feet tall and 5 feet wide.
Vintage Jade® is a compact, low-spreading mounding shrub with an arched branching habit and dark green foliage; shrub grows 2 feet high and 5 feet wide.
Coppertone® is a medium spreading selection with coppery new spring foliage; shrub grows 3-4 feet high and 4-5 feet wide.