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Edgeworthia, a Delightful, Easy-Care Shrub 

Just three years ago I purchased an Edgeworthia chrysantha, also called Chinese Paperbush. This deciduous shrub was a small thing at the time, about a foot tall, but I was captivated by its sphere of tubular flowers, reminding me of a little girl's white tutu with frilly yellow petticoats.So far I have nothing but good things to say about this plant, which provides multi-seasonal interest with little work from me. My Edgeworthia, though not yet a mature specimen, has already grown into a delightful shrub whose architectural form, cinnamon-colored stems and soft fuzzy leaves, six inches or more in length, are already making a statement in the garden.The shrub is often advertised as growing to 5 feet, but it can grow in an umbrella shape up to 8 feet tall by 10 feet wide, so I have left plenty of room for it. My three year old Edgeworthia has already grown to about four feet tall and wide.

This public domain photo shows a mature Edgeworthia laden with silver buds.As beautiful as Edgeworthia is during the growing season, the most outstanding feature has to be its fragrant flowers. Tight silver buds begin to swell with the approach of winter, and the flowers bloom on the tips of naked branches in late winter through early spring. They appear at the same time as those of its cousin, Daphne odora. Both shrubs are members of the Thymelaecea family. Sometimes Edgeworthia is call Yellow Daphne. The silver outer surface of its long-lasting blooms are furry in appearance, while the insides of the tubules are waxy. The wonderful spicy fragrance will have you sniffing, but you have to get down and look upward to appreciate the full beauty of the nodding blooms.

This has been a trouble-free shrub for me. I have not done anything to it since I planted it, except to apply a fish emulsion solution to it in early spring. I planted it in in partial shade under the high branches of an oak tree. Edgeworthia prefers well-drained soil, but for best flower production it needs plenty of moisture during the growing season. If established in soil high in organic matter, it is fairly drought tolerant. It also is deer resistant. It grows well in hardiness zones 7-9, and it may survive in protected areas of zone 6. 

There are several cultivars of this shrub, some having orange or red blooms. Edgeworthia papyrifera is very similar, though smaller and generally not as fragrant nor as hardy as E. chrysantha.


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Reader Comments (14)

I've heard so many wonderful things about Edgeworthia, and the name seems so appropriate. It is a beauty! Perhaps if I ever live in a warmer climate, I will have one in my garden. Since I'm in zone 5, I can't grow it here, but for now I'll enjoy your exquisite photos. :)

September 14, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterBeth @ PlantPostings

I've not heard of Edgeworthia before now,but what a great looking shrub! It seems like it has appeal all year around, especially with those beautiful silver buds. They really stand out on the bare branches. Thanks for posting about it Deb.

September 15, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterPaula@BloomsnSpades

Your specimen looks fab! Love this plant, for both the very early spring flowers and its velvety and rather large foliage :)

September 15, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMark and Gaz

I love the blooms on this shrub. I am always looking for something new to add to the garden so your suggestions are always appreciated...The photos are really helpful.

September 15, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterCharlie@Seattle Trekker

A lovely shrub - great for any winter insects. It's not quite hardy enough for us in a bad winter, but do you know what? You've convinced me it's worth a risk in a sheltered spot. Fingers crossed!

September 15, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSarah Shoesmith

A great shrub in the right conditions, I think it needs acid soil, is that right? I love almost any shrub with perfumed flowers so I would definitely grow one if I had the right conditions to make it happy.

September 15, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterChristina

Beautiful! I was surprised to find that my Sunset western garden guide indicates that it will grow in my area (Sunset zone 23/24, USDA zone 10b) but its water needs would appear to knock it off the list. Oh well, I can enjoy yours in photos.

September 15, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterKris P

Hi, Everyone! Thank you for your comments! Christina, Edgeworthia is not particular about soil pH. The main thing is that the soil needs to be well drained. Deb

September 15, 2014 | Registered CommenterDeborah Elliott

I have long admired this shrub as many have featured it in their gardens...but alas it is not hardy for me.

September 15, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterDonna@Gardens Eye View

I had to smile at your description of this as a trouble free plant Deb! I bought one two years ago and planted it in moist sheltered semi shade, but it has not flowers yet, and has frequently looked as if it was about to die! I threatened it with a move a couple of months ago, and despite a dry summer it is suddenly looking mighty fine, I love the architectural quality of the leaves. Now if it would only deign to flower... No signs of any of those extraordinary buds forming yet though.

September 16, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJanet/Plantaliscious

I've seen this shrub at the JC Raulston Arboretum and unfortunately those specimens didn't have any fragrance, at least none that I could detect. :/ I love fragrant winter-blooming shrubs those and this one is certainly interesting!

September 16, 2014 | Unregistered Commentersweetbay

I saw one in bloom at a nursery once in North Carolina, and it smelled so wonderfully! I was tempted to buy it, but I'm glad I didn't since we ended up moving. A beautiful plant for a season when there aren't too many flowers out yet!

September 16, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterIndie

I am so tempted, I have read so much about it, I think maybe in the sunny side of the woodland, it would be protected from the worst of the winter wind. It is so beautiful, thank you for writing about it.

September 17, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterPauline

I love that plant, we had a huge one at the nursery...and I could always smell it start to bloom way before anyone else. What a feat right?

It's a gorgeous shrub..one that I wish I had in my garden.


September 17, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJen @ Muddy Boot Dreams

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