Coppertone™ DistyliumDistylium myricoides.x racemosum 'PIIDIST-III' (PP# 25,304)
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Distylium myricoides.x racemosum 'PIIDIST-III' (PP# 25,304)
Outdoor Growing zone
Full Sun, Partial Sun
The Coppertone™ Distylium is a new variety of evergreen shrub that rivals laurel and boxwood for making hedges or filling spaces with evergreen foliage. If you are tired of dull evergreens that are always bug infested and diseased, it’s time to enjoy instead a pest-free evergreen that is always attractive and clean. The elliptical leaves are smooth and glossy, in a unique blue-green color that lasts all through winter. The new leaves pass through red, copper, bronze and purple tones as they mature. As well, Interesting dark-red flowers bring a lift to late winter.
It doesn’t matter if you grow the Coppertone™ Distylium in full sun or partial shade – it is fast-growing and will thrive. It grows readily in all the warmest zones, even in the South, where it resists the common pests and diseases found in hot zones. It grows in all kinds of soil, in any location, and once established it is very drought resistant, yet it will grow in wet soil too. Easily trimmed, or left to grow naturally bushy and dense, this great new plant is a winner.
In warmer climates broad-leaf evergreens take the place of the conifer evergreens grown so much in northern states. The ideal is to have healthy, rich-green foliage free of insect damage and diseases. This can be hard in warmer zones, with so many pests around throughout the year – a constant headache for southern gardeners. That’s why you are going to love the Coppertone™ Distylium. It won’t be familiar to you, but don’t let that put you off. It’s new, except for 10 years of rigorous testing at the University of Georgia – certainly a great recommendation for any plant. This bushy evergreen is perfect for filling beds or trimming into low hedges – and it’s not just a green bush. The dark-red flowers in late winter are a charming feature, but it’s when the new growth comes out that the fireworks really start. The new leaves pass through a kaleidoscope of copper, bronze, red and purple, before settling on a rich blue-green, which holds strong for the rest of the year, and all through winter.
The Coppertone Distylium is a mounding evergreen shrub, with dense branching, growing to 3 or 4 feet tall and up to 5 feet wide. It has a naturally dense structure, looking attractive untrimmed, and also easy to trim into dense low hedges. The leaves are 2½ inches long and 1-inch wide, with a smooth, elliptical shape. They are leathery and slightly glossy, and they are carried on the stems in an interesting way, pointing forward and looking a little like rows of wings. New leaves are produced in spring, and continue to appear over summer, especially if you are trimming. They pass through a series of colors as they develop, from coppery red to bronze and purples, until they mature to a unique blue-green color that is very effective and striking in the garden. Although a calm, simple plant, it has loads of charm and presence in your beds.
In late winter, between January and March, depending on how cold your region is, flowers form on the stems of last year. They grow as clusters all along the stems, sprouting from the base of every leaf. The small flowers are red in the bud, and open into small, fluffy, dark-red balls of stamens. They are unusual for lacking petals, and while not spectacular, they do have an effective appearance and add interest to this unique plant. Dead-heading is not needed, and the small seed pods that develop are very inconspicuous.
As a foundation evergreen this plant is a great choice – and something different. Trim it or not as you feel and depending on how formal your garden is. Use single plants to fill gaps, and plant clusters and groups to fill larger areas in your beds with attractive, year-round foliage, without adding work to the garden. In warm states it can be used as a container shrub, and it can be planted in a row, spacing plants 3 feet apart, and clipped a couple of times a year into a neat hedge up to 3 feet tall.
The Coppertone Distylium is hardy in all the warmer states, from zone 7, and it thrives in heat, humidity and hot summers.
Place the Coppertone Distylium in full sun or partial shade. Just a few hours of sun a day is enough for it to thrive. It is an amazing bush for its ability to grow in every kind of soil, making it one of the easiest and most reliable of shrubs. Once established it survives long periods of drought, and it also grows in wet soil – truly a plant for any location.
An outstanding feature of the Coppertone Distylium is its resistance to all pests or diseases. These were never seen during trials, and this is true even in the hottest states, where bugs often thrive and wreak havoc in your garden. The best time to trim is in spring after flowering, and again through summer as needed. Don’t trim in late summer or fall in zone 7, as new growth is more cold sensitive.
Distylium is a small group of plants from China that are relatives of witch-hazel. Only Distylium racemosum, the Isu tree, was grown in the past, and only in a few botanical gardens, because it doesn’t have much merit. Around 2000 Piroche Plants, in Pitt Meadows, British Columbia brought over a shipment of plants from China. Among them were plants of Distylium racemosum and the much more attractive Distylium myricoides, which has blue-green leaves. There was another plant too, which created some curiosity. In 2005 Michael Dirr, an Emeritus Professor at the University of Georgia and well-known plant expert, collected some seed from that plant and grew a batch of seedlings. He also verified with DNA testing that the plant was a hybrid between the two species, perhaps occurring naturally, or in a Chinese nursery. Twenty-one of the seedlings were studied for 10 years at test facilities of the University, and some were patented. The plant called ‘PIIDIST-III’ was patented in 2015 and released through First Editions Plants with the trademarked name of Coppertone™.
We love the color variations of the new growth on the Coppertone Distylium, and those subtle but fascinating red flowers in winter. We know you will love all that, but most of all you’ll love the toughness and easy-care of this great new shrub. Don’t hesitate in adding it to your garden, because we don’t have a lot of plants available, and they will be gone very soon.