Cinnamon Girl™ DistyliumDistylium myricoides.x racemosum 'PIIDIST-V' (PP# 27,631)
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Distylium myricoides.x racemosum 'PIIDIST-V' (PP# 27,631)
Outdoor Growing zone
Full Sun, Partial Sun
The Cinnamon Girl™ Distylium is a new variety of a rare plant that has grabbed the attention of gardeners looking for plants like boxwood, but reliable in heat and humidity, and free of pests or diseases. This plant fits that need perfectly, as well as making an excellent low ground-cover, growing just 2 or 3 feet tall, and spreading up to 6 feet across. The new leaves are plum-purple, maturing to an attractive blue-green, and they are small and glossy, making a neat plant you will love. Trimmed or not, this bush is perfect for low hedges, filling the foreground of your beds, or edging a walkway.
The Cinnamon Girl™ Distylium grows in warmer parts of zone 6 all the way into the hottest and most humid states. It grows in full sun or partial shade, and thrives in any soil, from wet to very dry, and of all types. This amazing plant is also free of pests or diseases, and it is a great low-maintenance bush that doesn’t even need trimming to stay neat.
Small-leaf evergreens have a unique look that all gardeners love, and many of them easily trim into neat hedges and mounds. Boxwood is the overwhelming favorite, but for gardeners in warmer zones it is a difficult shrub, often plagued by pests and diseases requiring control, and it can be particular about soil and nutrients too. Many gardeners long for something with a similar look, but easier to grow – a plant that stays clean, healthy and attractive all year round. Well it’s here – the Cinnamon Girl™ Distylium. Never heard of it? Neither have a lot of people, but it is soon going to be well-known, the way boxwood, holly or laurel is. It has a dense, bushy habit and the small, glossy leaves look similar to boxwood. Best of all, it is both drought resistant and able to grow in wet soil, plus it remains amazingly free of pests and diseases, so it looks clean and green all year round. As well, this attractive shrub has interesting dark-red flowers along the stems in late winter, and bright, beautiful plum-purple new leaves that look especially striking in spring, and that continue to appear after every clipping.
The Cinnamon Girl Distylium is a dense, broad shrub growing only 2 or 3 feet tall, but spreading up to 6 feet across. Naturally bushy, this plant closely resembles boxwood or Japanese holly. The leaves are abundant and small, just 1¾ inch long and ½ inch wide. They are leathery, oval, smooth and a rich, dark blue-green color. The color is kept through both summer and winter, with no bronzing, yellowing or burning. New growth, in spring and through summer, is a rich plum-purple with coppery overtones.
Late winter can bring a surprise, when the branches from the previous year may burst into bloom. Short clusters of flowers grow along the stems, from the base of each leaf. These contain many tiny flowers which are red in bud and in bloom. The flowers are small, without petals, but they have a cluster of dark-red stamens, Flowering lasts for a few weeks, between January and March, depending on how warm your winters are. The flowers become inconspicuous seed pods and no dead-heading is needed. This variety does not flower every year – for more abundant blooming see our other varieties of Distylium.
If you are tired of bug-infested boxwood, or your soil and climate doesn’t suit them, the Cinnamon Girl Distylium is a wonderful substitute. If you have hesitated planting boxwood because you have heard of difficulties growing it, the you can go ahead with confidence and plant this great shrub instead. It is perfect for low hedges, and it can be kept as low as 12 inches tall. It is also perfect for ground-cover in the front of your beds, or for lining a pathway. Its broad spread means you can space plants 4 feet apart and still achieve a continuous cover within a few years – and save on the number of plants you need.
The Cinnamon Girl Distylium is the most cold-resistant of the new Distylium varieties, and it won’t suffer cold damage in warmer parts of zone 6. In colder parts of that zone, or exception winters, there may be some burning or dropping of leaves, but new growth quickly replaces it in spring. It thrives in all other warmer zones, enjoying the heat and humidity of summer in the South.
Full sun or partial shade suit the Cinnamon Girl Distylium perfectly. Too much shade will make the growth more open, but this plant is quite shade tolerant. It grows well in virtually all kinds of soil, making it ideal for all gardens. It grows in wet soil, but also in dry soil, and it is very drought resistant once established.
Like all the Distylium hybrids, this plant is amazingly free of pest or disease attacks – it feels like the phrase ‘pest-free’ was invented for it. This is such a relief for southern growers who often suffer from multiple pest problems on many common garden shrubs. You don’t need to trim – the Cinnamon Girl Distylium is naturally bushy and neat, but you can trim it into formal hedges and balls, just like boxwood. Trim in late winter or early spring, and again after the spring growth flush, as often as you wish up to late summer. Don’t trim later, especially in colder areas, as new growth is more susceptible to winter damage.
Distylium racemosum is a plant that has been known in gardens for a long time, as the Isu tree. But it was rarely planted, and even less often recognized, as it has no particular features of value. Another species, Distylium myricoides, was almost never seen outside China, until Piroche Plants, from Pitt Meadows, British Columbia brought some from China into North America early this century. This bushy plant with attractive blue-green leaves attracted the experts. Even more attractive, though, was one plant in that shipment that was unique and different. Later DNA testing would prove it was a hybrid between the other two species, but for now it was put aside for study. In 2205 Michael Dirr, Emeritus Professor of Horticulture at the University of Georgia, collected some seed from this ‘mystery plant’, and sowed it back at the University’s Botanic gardens. The seeds sprouted and grew fast, and soon there were twenty-two seedlings, all very different looking, being studied. After 10 years of close observation and study several were patented. The plant called ‘PIIDIST-V’ was patented by Dirr’s team at Plant Introductions, Inc. in 2017, and released by First Edition Plants with the trademarked name of Cinnamon Girl™.
The road from noticing an unusual plant to being able to market it can be long, especially if the grower takes the time to thoroughly test it. Once its true worth can be seen it is propagated carefully to preserve its unique DNA. Our plants of Cinnamon Girl Distylium are perfect copies of that original plant, and this new plant is set to become big, and an easy replacement for boxwood. Order now and enjoy trouble-free gardening, but don’t wait or our stock will all be gone.