Hancock’s CoralberrySymphoricarpos x chenaultii ‘Hancock’
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Symphoricarpos x chenaultii ‘Hancock’
Outdoor Growing zone
Full Sun, Partial Sun
Hancock’s Coralberry has to be one of the very best groundcover shrubs available. Growing no more than 2 feet tall, and often less, it forms a dense, weed-proof carpet of branches, with one plant growing over 6 feet across. Small pink flowers in summer are followed by clusters of berries that begin white and then turn purple-pink. These last well through fall and winter. Plant it on banks and slopes beneath trees or beside water, in wet or dry areas. Use it to carpet rocky ground or fill in the foreground of large shrub beds. Where you have large areas to cover, this shrub is the answer.
Plant Hancock’s Coralberry in all light levels, from full sun to full shade. It grows in all soils, from dry, poor ground to wet areas with poor drainage. The dense growth prevents soil erosion, and the leaves are free of leaf-spots and mildew.
There is a great need, especially in a larger garden, for easy-care plants that will cover the ground beneath trees or on slopes. There are several good choice, but in colder zones nothing can beat Hancock’s Coralberry. This vigorous shrub is incredibly cold-hardy, and forms a solid mat of thin branches that is weed-resistant and prevents soil erosion. The pretty leaves are disease-free and an attractive bright green, and the pink to purple berries that appear by fall last well into the winter. It grows in soils from wet to dry and tolerates shade – talk about ‘unbeatable’, here it is – the ultimate low-maintenance plant to deal with all those difficult areas in your garden. You can tell how good it is because it was given the GreatPlants Award by the Nebraska Nursery and Landscape Association and the Nebraska Arboretum for its ability to withstand the challenging conditions in that state – and that is one challenging state for plants!
Hancock’s Coralberry is a low-growing deciduous shrub growing just 1 to 2 feet above the ground. The thin stems root as they grow, and new stems also grow up from the roots, meaning that a single plant will, within a few years, cover an area over 6 feet across. It isn’t so vigorous as to take over your garden, but it does spread, so allow plenty of room. The many slender stems spread outwards, and they are covered in small oval leaves, about ¾ of an inch long. These are always clean looking, and a bright but dark green in color. There is no significant fall coloring, and in warmer zones the leaves may stay on the plant for most of the winter.
In July clusters of tubular flowers, just ½ inch long, with a flaring mouth, growing where the leaves meet the stems. These are pink to red but because they are nestled among the leaves they aren’t particularly showy. Bees and butterflies certainly find them, though, and they are a valuable source of food for these pollinators. These are followed by clusters of small berries that begin to show by early fall. The berries are greenish to begin, turning whiter and then becoming rich purple-pink by mid-fall. The berries last well through fall and often much of the winter, although they will gradually be taken by birds. They look especially conspicuous after the leaves have fallen. They are not edible and could be mildly toxic to humans.
There is hardly another groundcover that is so tough and vigorous as Hancock’s Coralberry. It thrives in all those difficult spots beneath mature trees, for example, and on dry slopes and banks. It transforms these places from ‘boring’ to ‘brilliant’ and really gives you the chance to have lush, weed-resistant covering anywhere in your garden, on both dry and wet areas. Plant it on slopes, even steep ones, where the stems and roots give good erosion control – it is used for that in land restoration. Plant it on the banks of rivers and streams, or across rocky ground. Because of its broad spread it is relatively economical to cover large areas – you can place plants as much as 5 feet apart, although we recommend a maximum spacing of 4 feet to get a more rapid continuous carpet of weed-proof stems.
Hancock’s Coralberry is hardy in zone 4 and all the way into zone 7. It would grow in warmer zones in areas with cool, damp summers like the northwest.
With a remarkable tolerance, Hancock’s Coralberry grows everywhere from full sun to full shade, and in all kinds of soils, from dry, poor soils to wet areas with poor drainage. This is one plant that will almost always grow where you put it, no matter the conditions.
Especially in warmer zones, some types of coralberry can lose leaves in summer from leaf-spot and mildew diseases. Hancock’s Coralberry is resistant to them, and stays fresh, clean and full from spring to late fall. It isn’t bothered by deer either. It doesn’t really need any trimming, but you can cut back any stray shoots as needed, to maintain a neater look, or trim around the edges where it meets a path or driveway.
Chenault’s coralberry, Symphoricarpos x chenaultii, is a hybrid snowberry, created by R. Chenault at his nursery in Orléans, France, around 1910. It is a hybrid between two species – Symphoricarpos microphyllus from Mexico and S. orbiculatus, the coralberry. Chenault’s coralberry is a vigorous shrub growing to around 6 feet tall, with white and pink berries. During the 1940s the horticulturist Leslie Hancock, who owned Woodland Nurseries, in Cookville, Ontario, Canada, developed a variety that grew to just 18 inches tall, but was wide-spreading, with branches lying on the ground and rich-pink berries. It was probably a seedling of Chenault’s coralberry. It is called ‘Hancock’, and this is the plant we call Hancock’s Coralberry.
If you have areas of your garden where nothing seems to grow, then we have the answer – Hancock’s Coralberry. Especially in colder regions it’s a real winner, and you will win beauty and lushness when you plant it. Order your plants now – knowledgeable gardeners always buy up our stock quickly, so it goes fast.