Wait a minute… Are those star-crossed lovers in your garden providing an elegant twist of color and texture, taking your landscape to the next level?!
Nope, it’s Cleyera! The Romeo and Juliet Cleyera from the Southern Living Plant Collection to be precise. (And that makes much more sense when you really think about it)
We’re going to cover both of these exciting new varieties today and highlight what exactly makes them all-stars.
Surprisingly enough, Juliet is not technically a true Cleyera. But neither are many ‘Cleyera’ that you see decorating landscapes across the nation. It belongs to the Ternstroemia family, which is often referred to as False Japanese Cleyera. However, due to their widespread popularity, over time they have come to adopt the name ‘Cleyera’ themselves. This group includes varieties such as Bigfoot, LeAnn, and Bronze Beauty as well.
Ternstroemia Cleyera features the classic glossy green leaves with a somewhat soft and leathery texture to them. These leaves are traditionally 2.5-4 inches long, with a slightly rounded point. While new growth tends to range in color from bronze to red (or reddish-bronze) on this species.
Well, for starters, fantastically variegated foliage! Olive green leaves with creamy white edges are evergreen all year long. This crisp foliage emerges in shades of maroon, adding a whole new level of interest. Moreover, it takes the traditional practicality and reliability of other False Japanese Cleyera and adds a tasteful touch of color variety. Wrap all of this up with a naturally compact and dense nature, and you’ve got a real winner on your hands.
Let it grow tall, or keep it short. Juliet excels both ways!
It’s a great choice if you want a privacy screen that brings more foliage color to the table than other screen plants. At its mature height of 8-10′ tall, you’ll have plenty of coverage from unwanted street noise and road pollution (or nosy/noisy neighbors).
Use it as a short hedge by trimming yearly in early spring to your desired height. It frames houses and structures beautifully. In addition, darker colored homes really stand out, thanks to the variegated foliage.
Try them in a mixed garden bed with contrasting color and texture shrubs, such as the Purple Diamond Loropetalum, Purple Pixie Loropetalum, Baby Gem Boxwood, Scentamazing Gardenia, or Jubilation Gardenia. It’s perfect for brightening up spots where you already have numerous darker-colored plants.
It even looks great in a container. Although as you would expect, trimming is required if you choose to go this route!
Juliet is hardy from zones 7-10 and is known to be impressively disease and pest resistant, as well as heat tolerant. In fact, Cleyera came into popularity when they started to be used as a hardy replacement for the disease-prone Red Tip Photinia.
They’re salt spray tolerant, making them perfect for Coastal plantings. Additionally, a moderate growth rate makes it easy to maintain this variety at whatever size you like.
It does well in both Full and Partial Sun, and it prefers acidic soil for proper growth. Also, good drainage is crucial for long-term success as well.
Romeo actually IS a true Cleyera! It falls under the scientific name Cleyera japonica, and the common name Japanese Cleyera. C. japonica is native to warmer locations in Asia, particularly Japan, Taiwan, and China. Local people of the Shintō faith even consider it to be a sacred plant. However, ‘Sakaki tree’ is the traditional name in those areas.
The C. japonica features similarly sized leaves to the Ternstroemia varieties, traditionally 2.5-4 inches long. These leaves tend to be oval, shiny, and dark green as well. Where True Japanese Cleyera leaves differ, though, is that they have a more defined point on the end.
Romeo’s foliage is gorgeously variegated and features a cream white to golden edge extending towards the center. Towards the middle of the leaf, Romeo’s leaves are a dark emerald green, which creates a dynamic contrast.
In fall and winter, the Romeo Cleyera’s foliage turns a rosy red to pink hue. This change really pops on the variegated foliage and adds a whole new season of interest.
Like Juliet, Romeo grows from 8-10′ H x 5-6′ W. It excels as a privacy screen or windbreak due to its size and dense foliage. It also makes for a unique and impressive mass planting.
Because of its compact nature and moderate growth rate, a yearly trim will keep it at your desired size. Therefore, it shines as a low border/hedge, or container plant.
It’s hardy from USDA Zones 7-10 and grows best in Full Sun to Part Shade.
Southerners will appreciate its heat tolerance, in addition to its disease and pest resistance.
Mildly acidic to neutral soil will achieve the best results for this shrub. Furthermore, ensure that your soil drains well to avoid root rot.
Thanks for reading, and please Contact Us if you have any questions!