Sunday, January 10, 2010

Calycanthus, not like any other shrub you grow

Calycanthus a great shrub, hardy, and a wonderful addition to any home garden landscape.
Calycanthus Venus. Sweetshrub I believe is a common name, this one lives up to that name without being common at all. Orchid or magnolia-like blossoms of white with a heart of purple and gold have a wonderfully sweet fragrance, I have been told that the blossoms can get up to five inches across, but I have only seem them about three myself.
In our hot summers it might be best to plant this one with a break from the sun in the afternoon.
Another great variety is Calycanthus 'Hartlage Wine', or Sinocalycalycanthus 'Hartlage Wine'. This one is lovely. I was amazed a few years ago when I grew them in one gallon pots that it bloomed the first year and the blossoms were almost two inches across. This variety has a more subtle fragrance not like its parents- C. sinensis and our American native C. florida ( and just to more technical-Sinocalycanthus chinensis (Chinese Sweetshrub or Wax Plant) and Calycanthus floridus (Carolina Allspice or Sweetshrub) to produce what was considered a new bigeneric hybrid that was later named ×Sinocalycalycanthus raulstonii ‘Hartlage Wine’) A lot of information just for one shrub but I don't want to insult anyone in the mean time.

Both are great as specimen plantings, but they do differ in size. I have been in a nursery in the Bellevue, WA area ,not dropping names, and have seen eight foot tall specimens of 'Hartlage Wine' but have been told it may reach fifteen feet all and ten feet wide. It has been mentioned that Venus will only reach about eight feet tall and ten feet wide. I am unsure but either here in Central/Easter Washington. I guess it would depend on your growing conditions.

I do like the fact they are both summer blooming, and can be sporadic, but a few blossoms that linger are better than no blossom at all.

Another thing one might concider doing from a design pount of view is to echo the blossom color in the garden, or punctuate that echo.
To echo the blossom color you would want to plant somewhere in your garden, mainly in the same viewing area a plant that has some like charteristic. I might plant Philadelphus 'Belle Etoile' in the same garden area ad Calycanthus 'Venus'. Both have creamy white blossoms with a darker eye. But maybe to punctuate that echo I might plant a Cotinus coggygria 'Royal Purple' next to Venus to make that dark eye sing and stand out when it is blooming. I might use Physocarpus opulifolius 'Diabolo' to make 'Hartlage Wine' even more wine and less rust in color. But those are just my thoughts, you can invent your own combinations.


  1. Greetings from WA state ~ I've been following your blog since Linda Beutler mentioned it on F'book so thought I'd drop you a quick note to say how much I've been enjoying it. But there's one BIG problem and here it is: almost every one of your posts makes me grab my Plant Wish List and add yet one more name of something that I now have to have....YOUR FAULT! And now this calycanthus. geesh. I can tell you're gonna be trouble :>]]

  2. well, these will be plants in my nursery...and if you are a friend of Linda B, you might be able to arrange that they are brought to you somehow. I do get to the Portland area.

  3. and I see you are the San Juans...something could be arranged