Enkianthus-A Shrub to Know and Grow

If you are looking for an easy care shrub, with little to no pruning, deer resistant, and fabulous fall color, look no further than the Red-Veined Enkianthus.

Award of Garden Merit Plant

Enkianthus campanulatus ‘Showy Lanterns’, the red vein enkianthus has always captured my interest with its striking hanging bell-like flowers. In the springtime, this shrub is covered with a profusion of pink-red flowers that cluster thickly along the branches. The  Royal Horticultural Society awarded its Award of Garden Merit to the Red-Veined Enkianthus. The cultivar ‘Showy Lanterns’ with its  bright red flower  and its wonderful fall coloring is my favorite.

‘Showy Lanterns’ Enkianthus

‘Showy Lanterns’ is a compact, slow-growing selection created some years ago by Ed Mezitt of Weston Nursery in MA. Growing to 5′ tall and 3′ wide, this shrub bears heavy clusters of dark pink bell-shaped flowers which give off a soft fragrance in mid-May. Sized for a smaller garden, this shrub rarely has any disease or pest problems and should be more widely planted.

Fall color is shades of orange and gold which can set your garden aglow for weeks.  Enkianthus are deer resistant and prefers a slightly acidic soil, but has proven tolerant of a wide range of soil conditions. This plant rewards the patient gardener with all season interest with beautiful spring flowers and fall interest. Native to Japan, Enkianthus is hardy in zones 5 to 7 and prefers full sun or partial shade, doing best in partial shade. Requiring acid soil, this would be a good companion in your borders with Rhododendrons and Azaleas.

This is the species version (non-hybrid) of Enkianthus campanulatus which is still beautiful
Enkianthus campanulatus

I call it the ‘ugly duckling’ shrub as it can be pretty homely when you first plant it out, but within a couple of years transforms into a beautiful shrub. Because it can be gangly looking at the nursery, people don’t pick them up. But a deer resistant, shade tolerant small shrub that displays clusters of beautiful flowers deserves a place in everyone’s garden.



7 Replies to “Enkianthus-A Shrub to Know and Grow”

  1. I liked the look of this shrub so started googling to see if I could grow it in my cold climate garden. So irritating to find one site saying it is easily grown, another saying it is very fussy as to growing conditions. Gr-r-r! What is your experience?

    1. It is a little finicky getting started, but after 2 years, it settles in and start to take off

    1. It grows very slowly. I have had one for 5 years in a spot and it looks the same size.
      But I love the flowers!!

  2. Will it grow in Zone 9 and if so should it be in part shade, shade, or full sun? Also what would be the water requirements?

  3. Where in the world can you buy this? I have been trying for 2 years. The only place I can find is Dancing Oaks in Oregon and they will not ship. They have some currently available – lipstick – I love the flower and the shorter height. Does anyone live in Oregon who could purchase and send?

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