Bronze Beauty CleyeraTernstroemia gymnanthera 'Conthery' (PP# 11,735)
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Ternstroemia gymnanthera 'Conthery' (PP# 11,735)
Outdoor Growing zone
Full Sun, Partial Sun
The Bronze Beauty™ Cleyera is a fast-growing evergreen bush or small tree, growing up to 3 feet a year to quickly reach 10 to 15 feet in height, with a spread of 6 to 10 feet. It has attractive glossy green foliage, with bright bronzy-red new growth, and it grows continuously from spring through fall. It has small yellow-white flowers in spring, followed by red to black berries, but it is primarily grown for its excellent foliage, and its ability to be clipped easily and grown into hedges and specimens in a few years. It is ideal for foundation planting, hedges, screens and shady locations.
The Bronze Beauty™ Cleyera will grow in full sun, partial shade or full shade. In warmer zones afternoon shade protects it from leaf scorch. It grows in most well-drained soils, including clay, preferring rich, moist and slightly acidic soil. Once established it has moderate drought resistance, and it resists salt spray, making it ideal for coastal gardens. It is generally free of pests or diseases, and it can be clipped when desired, anytime from spring to fall.
We all love the look of glossy evergreen foliage, especially for hedges, screens or in foundation planting around our homes. Some evergreens need lots of trimming to keep them neat, while others are very slow-growing – but not all of them. For fast growth that still doesn’t need much trimming, few evergreen bushes can match the Bronze Beauty™ Cleyera. This distant relative of the camellia has beautiful oval leaves, and it may not have showy blooms, but the bronze-red new leaves are as colorful and eye-catching as any flower display. Trimmed or untrimmed it always looks dense and beautiful, and it gives an air of maturity and permanence to your beds in a few short years. Green shrubs with good foliage are an essential part of any garden, and they tie it all together, making the more showy plants stand out better, and creating a wonderful calm feeling in your garden.
The Bronze Beauty Cleyera is an upright evergreen shrub with a dense habit. It is fast-growing, adding over 3 feet a year in ideal conditions. It will reach 8 to 10 feet tall, and 5 to 6 feet wide in just 5 years in those ideal conditions, and certainly within 10 years anywhere. Untrimmed it will keep growing of course, slowing down once it reaches 15 feet by 10 feet, although the largest plants known approach 40 feet in height after many years. Although naturally shrubby it can easily be trained up in a small tree, with one or several main trunks. The bark is smooth and dark gray.
The long oval leaves are 2¼ to 3″ long and ½ to 1 inch wide, with a blunt point, smooth edges and a leathery texture. They resemble the leaves of a camellia bush. New leaves in spring begin to appear in mid-March, and grow continuously into late fall, which is the secret to the rapid growth of this plant. The young leaves are attractive shades of bronzy red to gray-purple, maturing in a few weeks to rich green. In winter, with cooler weather, the leaves darken to an attractive deep green.
In May and June small yellow-white flowers can be seen on older stems at the base of the leaves. These are ½ to ¾-inch across, and slightly fragrant. Mature plants produce hundreds of blooms, each one lasting up to a week. Still, the flowering is interesting rather than showy – for that the bronze leaves do the job. By fall the flowers produce small reddish to black berries, about 1-inch long and ½-inch across, like olives. Plants that are regularly trimmed will not produce a lot of blooms.
For hedges and trimmed bushes this plant can’t be beaten. It trims beautifully and because it keeps growing steadily it quickly gets denser and denser. Use it for rounded shapes in the foundation planting around your home. Grow it as a beautiful evergreen hedge, spacing plants 4 or 5 feet apart, depending on the final height you want. You can keep it low, just 4 or 5 feet tall, or let it grow into a majestic 10-foot hedge. Use it untrimmed in more natural areas and out in your shrub beds for attractive backgrounds to azaleas, camellias and rhododendrons. In zones 9 and 10 it can be grown in planters and containers for a great look. It is tolerant of salt spray, so an excellent choice if you live in a coastal area.
The Bronze Beauty Cleyera is hardy in all the warmer zones, from zone 7. It will even grow in warmer parts of zone 6 but expect some foliage damage when temperatures fall below 0o Fahrenheit. It grows very well in hot areas, all through the South and in Florida and California, as well as in the Northeast.
In zone 7 and 8 the Bronze Beauty Cleyera will grow in full sun, but in warmer zones it benefits from afternoon shade, which prevents possible leaf scorch in summer. It will grow well in partial and full-shade too, except for very dark parts of the garden. It grows in all kinds of soils, including clay, that are well-drained but not too dry, and it thrives best in rich, moist, well-drained and slightly acidic soils.
The Bronze Beauty Cleyera is normally free of pests and diseases and it tolerates salt-spray well. Once established it is also tolerant of some drought and dryness. Although not as particular as camellias or rhododendrons, on alkaline soils the leaves may show some yellowing, but this can usually be corrected by using chelated iron in spring and fall. Trim as needed from spring to fall, and use some evergreen fertilizer for acid-loving plants in spring, particularly if you trim regularly.
The Japanese Cleyera, Ternstroemia gymnanthera, was sold for many years incorrectly named as Cleyera japonica, which is very similar looking. The name ‘Cleyera’ has stuck as a common name for this plant. It is native to Japan, Korea, China, India and parts of Indonesia, and its unusual name comes from Christopher Ternstroem, a Swedish naturalist who traveled in China and died in 1748. Although introduced in the 19th century, it remained obscure and probably disappeared from gardens until re-introduced in the 20th century. It is more widely grown in America than in most other countries. The variety called ‘Conthery’ was selected for its striking new foliage in 1992, by James B. Berry, of Plant Development Services Inc. Loxley, Alabama. After studying its development and unique value, he patented it in 2001. His plant is sold with the trademarked name of Bronze Beauty™.
The Bronze Beauty Cleyera is a fantastic plant for hedging and creating structure in your garden, but try it growing naturally too – you will love it. Either way the demand for this plant is always high, so order now and very soon you will be looking at mature hedges and elegant specimens you won’t believe.