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Ternstroemia gymnanthera ‘Variegata’ (photo courtesy of Jerry Pavia)
Ternstroemia gymnanthera ‘Variegata’ (photo courtesy of Jerry Pavia)

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Zones 4-9, 12-24
Partial SunNo Sun
Partial, Shade
Ample WaterRegular Water
Ample, Moderate

Ternstroemia gymnanthera

Evergreen, Shrubs

Camellia relative from China and Japan grown for its glossy, leathery foliage. May eventually reach 6–8 ft. but is usually seen as a rounded plant 3–4 ft. tall and 4–6 ft. wide. Red-stalked leaves are rounded oval to narrowly oval, bronzy red when new; color at maturity varies. In deep shade, mature foliage tends to be dark green; with some sun, it may be bronzy green to purplish red. Red tints are deeper in cold weather. Creamy yellow, 1/2-in. summer flowers are fragrant but not showy. Fruits (uncommon on small plants) resemble small yellow to red-orange holly berries or cherries; they split to reveal black seeds. Use as a basic landscaping shrub, informal hedge, or tub or poolside plant. Cut foliage keeps well.

Grow in well-drained soil. Leaves turn yellow if soil isn’t acid enough; fertilize with acid plant food if necessary. Tip-pinch to encourage compact growth. Good companion for shade-loving plants. Tolerates full sun in cool-summer climates.

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